“Wook at me giant sungwasses.”
Is there any way I can get you to speak without your accent?
“You don’ loik me ak-sent?”
Now you’re leaning into it.
“You evuh b’n to Baaaa-wee?”
“Baaa-wee. The ay-wind.”
The island of Bali.
“Whot Oi said, mate.”
I’ve never been to Bali.
We’re gonna keep the dialogues to a minimum.
This was 1981. The first all-stadium tour, and an all-daytime tour, too. It was cheaper to play in the afternoon–you didn’t need to tote your lighting rig around the country, for one thing–and so some of the gigs began as early as noon. The Rolling Stones did not employ a Jumbotron, and so Mick dressed this way in an effort to be seen. You’re not meant to look at this outfit up close. It’s made to be viewed from Section 322 of Soldier Field.
There’s no excuse for the quality men’s hosiery. I’m gonna call that shade “peach.”
The ’81 American tour–they didn’t bother naming it, like they would later productions–was 50 shows in 80 days and in addition to being the first all-stadium tour, it was the first sponsored tour in Rock history. Jovan Musk ponied up for the right to say, I don’t know, “Instead of showering, Ronnie Wood sprays his taint with Jovan Musk.” Something like that.
This was also Bobby Keys’ first appearance with the Stones in eight years. He had grown so close to the band during the late 60’s and early 70’s that he began to think himself a Rolling Stone. But Bobby Keys was not a Rolling Stone, and so having room service bring up enough Dom Perignon to fill the bathtub was a poor choice. Bobby was put in a cab and sent to the airport. Mick’s direct orders. The help needs to know its place. But Bobby wasn’t wicked, just excitable, and everyone missed him, so he came back in ’81 and didn’t leave again until his death in 2014.
Keith may be going to jail, but he’s not going without his scarf. There are also, if history is our guide, nine or ten other scarfs secreted on his person. And then there’s Mick.
“You woik me wuffles?”
I told you not to talk.
“Wook at me hawwwwse.”
Goddammit. Nice horse, I guess.
“‘E’s named Waffles.”
“No, Waffles. After th’ gentleman-thief.”
I’m, like, 85% sure this joke doesn’t work in print.
- Mick’s skinnier than she is.
- Mick made a run at her. Mick hit on her, Mick hit on her hard, and for all we know Mick got in there. The fact that she’s “America’s Sweetheart” or whatever only made Mick try harder.
This is the Steel Wheels tour in ’89, and Mick is wearing a toppermost. This was their first tour since ’81; they had spent the past eight years sniping at one another in the press and making poor albums, but now the Stones were back, baby. The biggest concert tour in history, and also a new record which wasn’t too bad. (Legacy acts can hit the road without a record now, and the Dead always did, but the Stones needed a new album to promote.)
Did I say big?
You see the rightmost spire, the one that gets cut off at the top? The FAA made ’em put a flashing red light on it, because otherwise planes would crash into the Rolling Stones. The stage was 280 feet across and weighed 180 tons, requiring twelve trucks to haul.
You made those numbers up.
I don’t care exactly how big a fucking stage was in 1989, and no one else should, either.
A reminder: this is how the band performed in 1976:
I’m sorry, but I must drop into bullet points for this bullshit.
- What are you doing, Billy Preston?
- Oh, no, Billy Preston.
- Do not.
- Do not that.
- If you performed on a stage that shape nowadays, conspiracies would abound.
- It folded up.
- And opened when the show started, the band hidden within.
- Like a flower.
- You may guess as to whether or not it worked perfectly every night.
- You may also guess as to how the fuck anyone on that stage heard anyone else.
But this might be the stage that most succinctly sums up the band:
This is the A Bigger Bang tour, which lasted from 2005 to 2007; Mick achieved the Full Jagger on this endeavor. The Stones had always sold every part of the animal. First, there is the Product. Cannot have a Promotional Tour without a Product. Then there are tickets, and if you are willing to pay more for better seats and/or access to the band, then the band is willing to allow you the freedom to do so. At the concert, you may buy souvenirs Byzantine in their variety, but spartan in their branding: the Rolling Stones will slap those fucking lips on anything. Yes, the Dead is bad about slapping Stealies on shit, but no one beats the Stones for licensing their iconography to janky crap.
Anyway, while you could purchase any Stones-branded tchotchke you desired, you could not bootleg the show. This is an old Stones rule–an old everyone-in-Rock-and-Roll-except-the-Dead rule, to be precise–because it was believed bootlegging cut into official revenues and confused the teens. If the kids were gonna buy a live album, it would come from us, the Stones thought, and so there’s been a live release for every one of their tours; they’ve all been deadly except for Get Your Ya-Yas Out.
And a movie, too. Gimme Shelter (the one where someone died)and Let’s Spend The Night Together (the one Hal Ashby directed)and At The Max (the one in IMAX format) and Shine A Light (the one Scorsese directed) and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones (the one they played the best in) and bunch of others.
That was it. Nothing else to sell, right?
Do you see where Mick found more money yet? Do you have it?
Mick sold off the damn stage. Good for you, Mick.