Start Me Up? Not Quite: Stones Cause 30 Mile Traffic Jam

Charlie, Keith, Mick and Ronnie Charlie, Keith, Mick and Ronnie

BRUSSELS, Belgium (June 6, 2007) — The Rolling Stones’ European tour kicked off in Belgium to a big crowd, rave reviews — and a massive traffic jam.

Some 33,000 fans showed up Tuesday in the town of Werchter, but when Mick Jagger started off with “Start Me Up,” some fans were still shuffling for position on the concert grounds after being stuck for hours in a 30-mile traffic jam caused by the show — and made worse by a nearby accident.

“Stones roll over Werchter,” read the headline in De Standaard. “Stones triumph in Werchter,” added De Morgen.

The tour will feature some 30 shows across Europe, including performances in Belgrade, Serbia, and the Stones’ first show in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Lots of new territories. Every show is different,” Jagger told The Associated Press. “Europe’s a very diverse place … and so every time you get to the next city it tends to be a different language and different culture. Different this, that, so for me touring Europe in the summer is a really fun event.”

Ron Wood agreed. “It’s good for Mick to try out his languages.”

Keith Richards said he sees original Stones fans bringing their grandchildren to performances — a testament to the band’s continuing draw.

“I don’t know quite what it is,” he said. “But it must be something to do with the music.”

Richards added: “I’ll do it in my wheelchair.”

Band members said they remain enthusiastic about performing.

“It’s more like a strange pastime,” Jagger said. “It’s very odd because you live for the next show, which could be the next day. All the time you’re building up and in that way it’s akin to sports because you’re working up — you practice, you run about, you play the song, you rehearse, but the actual thing’s only two hours and then it’s over.”

For Charlie Watts, the size of the venue doesn’t matter.

“We have as good a time rehearsing up there with no one in the room at two o’clock in the morning as when you’re doing a big show,” he said.

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