Satisfied! Rolling Stones rock the town
A Mom’s-Eye View
(For other Stones stories, check out these links: Some Assembly Required; Stuck on the Road; A Bad Apple; What's Next?)
Photos by Dan Addison
By Kathleen D. Valenzi
How memorable was the Oct. 6 Rolling Stones concert at Scott Stadium? Let’s put it this way: I still can’t get my 13-year-old son out of his souvenir “Bigger Bang Tour” T-shirt.
From the looks of the 55,000-plus others waiting for the show to begin that evening, neither could the mothers of fans from the Stones’ earlier days. You didn’t have to look hard to spot their now-grown sons and daughters wearing tees from the 1972 American Tour, or the 1989 Steel Wheels Tour. Clearly, when it comes to a Stones concert, going once is not enough.
My introduction to the Stones occurred 29 years ago, courtesy of my first boyfriend, who was passionate about the band. Consequently, I became fond of them, too.
Back then, with my waist-length hair and totally cool hip-hugger bell-bottoms, I couldn’t have imagined attending any concert — let alone a concert of this magnitude — with my parents. Yet, when I heard the Stones were coming to Charlottesville — a history-making event if ever there was one — I couldn’t imagine not going without my kids. And, best as I can tell, it never occurred to my kids to protest coming along.
By the looks of things at Scott Stadium on concert night, this phenomenon was universally true. The crowd was a cross-section of generations, including at least one baby-on-the-way, whose young mother did her fair share of dancing, while her husband, handed her earplugs and urged her to sit down.
When the lights of Scott Stadium finally dimmed, and flames erupted from the front of the mammoth stage to mark the opening set, the crowd went crazy. I admit it: I whooped and hollered, too. So did my kids.
And what a performance! The Energizer Bunny®, who made his advertising debut in 1989, the same year the Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, would have been hard pressed to keep up with the band members: lead singer Mick Jagger, 62, drummer Charlie Watts, 64, and guitarists Keith Richards, 61, and Ron Wood, 58.
From their opening song, “Start Me Up,” to their final encore, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” these veterans of the concert-tour circuit proved worthy of their World’s Greatest Rock‘n’Roll Band title. For vocals, instrumentation, production, showmanship and stamina, they earned straight As.
For grace under pressure, they scored an A+. Midway through the concert, Jagger was discreetly called off stage. Returning to the microphone, the visibly dismayed rocker said that “local authorities” were insisting on “an unscheduled intermission” due to a “technical problem.” That problem became evident when the stadium lights went on, and the first of three state troopers walked a dog to the stage, its nose to the ground.
“They’re sniffing for bombs,” I told my curious children.
“Should we be worried?” my 9-year-old daughter asked.
“No,” I told her. “This is probably a false alarm. But if they ask us to leave, let’s do it quickly.”
With news accounts of the explosions in London, the band’s town of origin, still fresh in my mind, I suppose I should have been more concerned, but I wasn’t. Something about having a bomb threat interrupt this particular concert seemed fitting in it’s own crazy way.
Those sniffing canines transported me instantly to the ’70s, to the era of the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” when my carefree classmates and I would pray for a bomb scare at school to cancel classes and liberate us from the tedium of studying.
Besides, with the exception of the numerous law enforcement officials on site, who were definitely taking the threat seriously, and possibly the fans watching from onstage or closest to the stage who had been asked to move during the sweep, and the nervous father-to-be in front of me, who ushered his pregnant wife out to the stadium entranceway (“just in case”), no one else seemed unduly worried. Annoyed by the delay? Yes. Tired from the waning hour? Yes. Bored enough to do the “wave” endless times? Yes. But worried? No way. As long as the Stones were coming back, we were going to wait.
About 45 minutes after the impromptu interlude started, the stadium lights dimmed again and the band returned to complete their show. Not one song was cut from the play list to make up for lost time, or to speed things up when a rain shower arrived to dampen our clothes, but not our enthusiasm. It was clear the Stones wanted us to get our money’s worth.
Those fans sitting farthest from the stage were thrilled when, toward the end of the concert, a section of the main stage detached and carried the band members over a narrow runway down the middle of the field. When it arrived at its destination — roughly the 10-yard line at the stadium’s south end — one fan, presumably grateful to be in such close proximity to musical greatness, tossed her brassiere onto the stage. I couldn’t help but notice the large grin on my son’s face. “Happens all the time,” I told him, trying to sound worldly.
By midnight, the performance, the encores and the final blast of firecrackers had subsided. As the roadies began striking the stage, the kids and I trudged back to our minivan and then, blessedly, made our way home without getting stuck in any traffic jams.
It wasn’t until then — 1 a.m., while heating leftovers for my growing son, who had pleaded for “a second dinner” before bed — that I was struck by a thought that stays with me:
Earlier that evening, my middle-aged-mom self had given way to the young girl who still lives inside, eager to dance and to sing without any of the self-consciousness that so-called maturity brings. Meanwhile, my children had transformed in the opposite direction: their future grown-up selves had risen to the surface, to dance and to sing alongside thousands of adults without feeling embarrassed or out of place.
For a short and magical while, we three were as close in age and spirit as we could ever hope to be. And that, alone, was worth the price of admission.
MORE STONES STORIES:
Some Assembly Required
Stuck on the Road
A Bad Apple