The Rolling Stones must have passed through a time machine before taking the Staples Center stage to kick off their “50 and Counting” anniversary tour.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts delivered a rousing set Friday night with the kind of youthful energy and musical verve they displayed decades ago. Their faces showed their age, but their performance did not, with a nonstop, more than two-hour set packed with well-worn hits.
Jagger and Richards are each 69 years old, and Watts is 71, but they transformed into their younger selves for the night. (Wood is the baby of the band at 65.)
Jagger might not hit all the notes he once did, but he still busted out his almost spastic, serpentine dance moves on song after song. He’s impossibly thin, and his spine showed through the light shirt he wore.
Staples Center was packed to capacity for the concert, the first of 17 dates the Stones are set to play throughout the United States.
The stage was modeled after the band’s iconic logo, with lips and teeth above the stage and a tongue-shaped platform that extended into the crowd.
A video of famous folks sharing their favorite Rolling Stones memories played before the band took the stage, with Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese, Perry Farrell and others reminiscing about their favorite tunes.
Actress Cate Blanchett recalled “just how skinny they were.”
“It really, really pisses me off,” she said.
(Honestly, the Stones could produce a best-selling diet book — the members are as slim as they were as aspiring rockers in the 1960s.)
Other videos showed the aging rockers as young men.
Jack Nicholson was among the stars in the audience, and fans welcomed him with a round of applause as he took his seat.
“It was either us or the Lakers, so now you got us,” Jagger said early in the show, referring to the basketball playoffs that forced the band to postpone its opening concert from Thursday to Friday.
“It doesn’t matter to Jack Nicholson,” Jagger continued, “because he was coming to both of them.”
Nicholson wasn’t the only star in the house. Gwen Stefani, wearing long blond hair and a bedazzled Rolling Stones tank top, joined the group onstage to sing “Wild Horses.”
“I’ve got to get one of these T-shirts,” Jagger said, admiring her top.
Keith Urban played guitar and sang backup on “Respectable.” Former Stones member Mick Taylor added guitar to “Midnight Rambler.”
Richards sang a pair of tunes: “Happy” and “Before They Make Me Run.” Jagger also played guitar and harmonica, and came out in a floor-length marabou cape to perform “Sympathy for the Devil.”
“We first played in LA in 1965,” Jagger said. “Thank you for keeping on coming to see us.”
The Rolling Stones’ tour continues through June 21.
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