Rolling Stones Defy Time As ‘No Filter’ Tour Resumes In Nashville
“What a beautiful night!” said singer Tré Nation Saturday in Nashville as country blues rock outfit Ghost Hounds took to the stage at Nissan Stadium. “You’re here, we’re here and the Rolling Stones are here!”
Over the course of two hours Saturday evening, the Rolling Stones made good on a 2020 concert date postponed amidst pandemic, arriving in Music City as part of the group’s rescheduled “No Filter” tour, one which resumes Thursday, October 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, snaking its way across America through November.
Including a September warm-up date in Massachusetts, Saturday’s show marks only the fifth for the Stones since the death of longtime drummer Charlie Watts, who passed away in August at 80.
In his place on this tour is Steve Jordan, a friend of Watts who performed alongside guitarist Keith Richards as a member of the X-Pensive Winos, part of a longtime connection with the Stones.
From go, Watts’ presence loomed large Saturday in Nashville, with a special photo montage on the group’s four massive video screens kicking things off at Nissan Stadium.
“You know something? It’s great to see all those images of Charlie up there on the screen. We played together for 59 years,” said singer Mick Jagger on stage, turning the clock back to 1966 while introducing “19th Nervous Breakdown.” “So many memories in that time - and I’m sure for you too. So we’d like to dedicate this show to Charlie.”
Richards crouched down and looked to his left during the song, the evening’s fourth, chuckling as he faced bassist Darryl Jones.
That smile was a constant Saturday. Nobody looked to be having more fun on stage than Keith Richards. The guitarist, 77, laughed as he delivered his backing vocal on “Dead Flowers” but was at his most mischievous amidst “Miss You,” disappearing momentarily as the song began, hiding in the shadows near the rear of Jordan’s drum kit as he enjoyed a cigarette.
“The first time we came to Nashville it was in 1965!” said Jagger, setting up “Paint it Black” as guitarist Ronnie Wood picked up an electric sitar. “It was such a small town then… but look at it now!” marveled the singer.
While Richards’ age is beginning to manifest itself in his playing, Jagger, 78, continues to defy time on a nightly basis. The singer ran from the stage down a runway out to about the 20 yard line, preening, prancing, pointing and punching as he performed from a second stage on the field during cuts like “Honky Tonk Women.”
While the band has been sticking primarily to a setlist of close to twenty tried-and-true hits, they nevertheless managed to shake things up a bit Saturday, with Richards taking lead on “Connection” for the first time in about 15 years.
“Every night we put up a bunch of songs…” said Jagger, explaining the process behind the group’s nightly fan pick, one chosen by concertgoers from a list and voted upon at the Rolling Stones website prior to each tour stop. “The ones we put up tonight were influenced by our love of country music,” said the singer, illuminating one of the many unique ways the group attempts to localize each “No Filter” concert. “Tonight the winner is ‘Dead Flowers.’”
From the Sticky Fingers album, “Dead Flowers” turned 50 this year and made its tour debut Saturday night in Nashville. The group last performed the track during Watts’ final Rolling Stones concert on August 30, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Richards held his guitar in the air as Wood did the heavy lifting on the deep cut, with Jagger picking up acoustic guitar, sticking with it as the group moved into “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
“We wanna do our lockdown song for ya,” said Jagger, introducing new Rolling Stones music. “Living in a Ghost Town” was released in 2020 and speaks to uncertain times, illuminating the isolation of life amidst the lockdown of early quarantine.
On stage Saturday in Nashville, the song was an immediate standout. A pair of saxophone players were resonant during a performance which highlighted the still stunning backing of vocalist Bernard Fowler. Richards and Wood stood side by side in front of Jordan as Jagger prowled, proving the band still has some gas left in the tank even as it approaches a once unthinkable 60th year.
“Is there anybody here from Lexington? Indianapolis? Memphis? Knoxville? Louisville?” asked Jagger of the crowd, name-checking nearby cities prior to “Start Me Up.” “I’m having such a good time here,” he said later. “Been in town for a few days. Went to Printers Alley and did karaoke,” said Jagger with a smile, joking about riding a mechanical bull amidst claims of crashing a bachelorette party.
“Miss You” remains Jones’ moment, a funky, drawn out, bass guitar attack which drives the song’s disco beat, a performance which was in lockstep with Jordan.
Long one of rock’s great sidemen, Steve Jordan was in fine form Saturday in Nashville, driving things forward in the absence of his friend. Jordan shined as he rang in the familiar opening to “Sympathy For the Devil,” sparks flying from the top of the stage as fireworks soared overhead, the Rolling Stones heading for the finish line. Clad in a long silver jacket, Jagger bowed as the song concluded, looking almost relieved as the group moved toward encore following a phenomenal presentation of rock and roll 101 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ghost Hounds opened Saturday’s show with a rollicking 45 minute performance showcasing cuts from their latest studio album, September’s A Little Calamity.
Performing as a nine piece group, the band was fleshed out by a trio of backing vocalists who shined as the group conjured up images of the Black Crowes, bluesy keyboard highlighting “Sleight of Hand.”
“It's a privilege and a bit surreal to share the stage with the Rolling Stones. They have been my favorite band since I was a kid. Our band is certainly influenced by them along with the pioneers in blues music,” said Ghost Hounds guitar player Thomas Tull, the billionaire former CEO of film production company Legendary Entertainment prior to Saturday’s Nashville concert. “We know it's only rock and roll - but it feels really special!”