The Rolling Stones are back on the road, but this time without their heartbeat, or at least without their backbeat.The legendary rockers kicked off their pandemic-delayed “No Filter” tour on Sunday at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis without their nearly six-decade drummer.
It was clear from the start how much Charlie Watts, who died last month at the age of 80, was missed by the band members and the fans. Except for a private show in Massachusetts last week, the band’s performance in St. Louis was their first since Watts’ death.The show began with a drumbeat and an empty stage, with photos of Watts flashing on the video board. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood came to the front of the stage after the second song, a rousing rendition of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It).” Jagger and Richards clasped hands as they expressed gratitude to fans for their outpouring of love and support for Watts.
Jagger admitted that seeing Watts’ photos made him cry. “This is the first tour we’ve ever done without him,” Jagger explained. “We’ll miss Charlie terribly, both on and off the stage.”Watts was then honoured with the song “Tumbling Dice.”The tour was supposed to take place in 2020, but the coronavirus effectively shut down the touring industry. At the show in Missouri, a state hard hit by the virus’s delta variant, there were signs of the pandemic everywhere.
As part of St. Louis’ anti-virus protocol, tens of thousands of fans wore masks. The Rolling Stones themselves appeared in a public service announcement urging anyone experiencing symptoms to stay at home. A vaccination station has been set up at the dome, with plans to set up similar stations at each tour stop.Watts’ replacement, Steve Jordan, provided the same driving beat that Watts embodied during the concert. The drummer may be new to fans, but he’s not new to the Stones — Jordan has spent years performing with Richards’ side project, X-Pensive Winos, as well as many other major acts.
Even though his true love was jazz, die-hard fans couldn’t help but miss Watts, widely regarded as one of rock’s greatest drummers. In 1963, he joined Jagger and Richards in the Rolling Stones. Wood joined the company in 1975.Seeing the Stones without Watts was bittersweet for Laura Jezewski, 62, of Omaha, Nebraska.“It’s really sad,” she expressed. “He is the first of the old Stones to die.”
The show included a long list of the band’s hits. Jagger strutted around the stage like a man half — or one-third — his age, a constant whirl of motion. His vocals, as well as the guitar work of Wood and Richards, were as strong as ever.Following St. Louis, the tour will make stops in Charlotte, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Tennessee, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tampa, Florida, Dallas, Atlanta, and Detroit before concluding on Nov. 20 in Austin, Texas. The band has also added new dates in Los Angeles on October 14 and 17, as well as a show in Las Vegas on November 6.Jezewski and her 60-year-old husband, Brad, travelled to St. Louis with their 30-year-old daughter, Sarah. It was Sarah’s first opportunity to see the Rolling Stones live.
Her parents have seen them in Ames, Iowa, Boulder, Colorado, Denver, and even Wichita, Kansas, dating back to the 1970s. The Jezewskis didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, despite the fact that the remaining band members were well into their 70s.“If this is their final time — we’re here,” Brad Jezewski said. “And if there is another tour, we will be there as well.”
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