As the house lights went dark, fans rose to their feet cheering to a four-on-the-floor drum beat leading into a one-minute video montage tribute to Charlie Watts displayed on the four panel jumbo screens. The clips spanned decades and revealed candid moments of Charlie, his warm smile and his modest personality before the familiar welcome “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones.” And with a grand flash of pyro-tech bursts, the familiar chords of “Street Fighting Man” kicked off the concert. With that the band returned.
St. Louis was the opening night of the long-awaited No Filter 2021 Tour. The Stones return despite so much to overcome in the recent past between the COVID-induced tour delay and the devastating passing of Charlie.
Before launching into “Tumbling Dice,” Mick took a moment to speak to the audience while holding Keith’s hand and Ronnie flanking him on the other side. “This is the first tour that we have done without Charlie,” and went on to say that all the support by fans has been very touching and thanked them. Continuing on Mick said that “we miss Charlie so much on the stage and off the stage” before dedicating the tour to him. It is simply hard to imagine the weight of entertaining a crowd and the emotion of carrying on in his absence. Charlie was missed on stage but his present was in everyone’s heart.
Mick laid to rest any apprehension of carrying on without Charlie during the band introductions. “And on drums, a member of the Rolling Stones family for many many years and a friend of Charlie’s, Steve Jordan.” As Jordan is the long-time collaborator with Keith’s solo work, he was the only right choice for the job.
The nineteen-song, two-hour concert was not only the expected great performance but in some ways a collective exhale that the show must go on. And it did.
Absent was the employ of a local choir singing the intro on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” likely due to COVID protocols. And no breakdown acoustic set where in the past Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie would perform a few songs at the end of the long runway stage. But the band played on with the force and energy that defies their age.
While Mick would work the full extent of the stage, and Ronnie ventured about some, Keith noticeably hung back closer to Steve Jordan. Without question the rhythm section of Darryl Jones and Steve Jordan are a solid backbone.
As always, Mick connects with the crowd pointing out local visits to iconic places in town. And at one point waved about a Cardinals jersey. Humorously he mentioned the first time The Stones played St. Louis in 1966. Then asked the audience if anyone who was at The Kiel Auditorium to raise their crutches.
One great treat for fans was the public debut of “Living in a Ghost Town” played live. A song that will stand the test of time.
Through the decades of hits, tours, personnel changes and drama, The Rolling Stones remain the greatest rock and roll band, even in their sixth decade together.
Full photo gallery below. All images: Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro
Street Fight Man
It’s Only Rock and Roll
Under My Thumb
19th Nervous Breakdown
Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Living in a Ghost Town
Start Me Up
Honky Tonk Woman
Paint It Black
Sympathy for The Devil
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
For fans in attendance seeking a fun, unique concert souvenir, original Ron Wood illustrated lithograph set lists are available for purchase.