Rolling Stones - The Echoplex - April 27, 2013
We get big bands in small venues around these parts not infrequently. Hell, Depeche Mode just played the Troubadour on Friday. But the Rolling Stones at the Echoplex? That's as good as it gets. The announcement that a small amount of tickets -- maybe 350 -- would be available yesterday at the El Rey sent folks scrambling from all corners of the city. And while we had our complaints about the process, we ended up snagging a ticket.
See also: Rolling Stones Hysteria Hits Los Angeles
So how was the experience of seeing Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts, and Daryl Jones -- plus Mick Taylor and Bobby Keys -- play a 700 capacity club? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was pinch-yourself, next-level unbelievable.
Even the celebrities who grooved near us -- including Johnny Depp, Gwen Stefani, and Skrillex, in a roped off VIP area stage left -- seemed in awe, moving un-self-consciously to the night's 14 songs. (The full set list is at the end of this post.)
Those of us who scrunched up in the floor "pit" areas of the Echoplex -- in front of the two big pillars that flank the room -- were ecstatic, even if drained from an entire day of, well, waiting for Rolling Stones tickets.
Their set kicked off with "You Got Me Rockin," a latter-era track we wouldn't count among our favorite 50 Stones songs. Still, the sound was clean yet robust and most definitely the best we've heard at the 'Plex. (The band brought their own sound crew, natch). The Stones seemed almost as excited as we were, Mick making a joke about how Echo Park was an "up and coming neighborhood" and they were "an up and coming band." He didn't talk a lot, but he showed off his Brit-wit and connected with the crowd, even asking about the lottery from earlier in the day.
The first block of songs were designed to get the blood-pumping: "Respectable" followed by "She's So Cold," "Live With Me" and "Street Fighting Man." If you're wondering if Mick Jagger still moves like Jagger at 69, the answer is yes, and here he offered up famous moves including "the arms wave," "the side-to-side hip shake," "the chicken-head" and "the point."
Dressed casually in dark jeans, long-sleeved white t-shirt and jacket, the frontman clearly maintains his passion for performing. Richards, in his typical headband, was maybe less showy than we would have liked, and he didn't really speak (or sing a song, like he does at arena shows), but he had a few front-of-stage moments and was smiling for the entire show.
Even his more intricate riffs are, at this point, effortless, but that's not the same as being thoughtless or lazy. Part of Keef's cool is the way he pours himself into his instrument, infusing every song with sexy, gritty, bluesiness. He's still got it, and seemed especially giddy when things took a more soulful turn on a cover of Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" and his friend/idol Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie."