When my Uncle first said he knew Keith Richards, I didn’t think he actually knew him.
I mean, it wasn’t hard to believe he met him. Thanks to his time in the NFL and an innate ability to be friends with everyone, Uncle Keith has met a lot of famous people. Usually, during those types of stories, my younger brother and I let him finish and ask questions later.
But when we heard the name “Keith Richards” a few months ago, we had to stop the story. After all, other than maybe Led Zeppelin, there isn’t a more beloved rock band for either of us than The Rolling Stones.
You could say the same for our Uncle Keith, who grew up on The Stones and has seen them countless times since meeting Richards at a bar in Antigua nearly 30 years ago. Narrations of all those shows made us wish we were born in a different generation.
That’s where the 2015 edition of Summerfest comes in. If we weren’t going to see the world’s greatest rock band open Summerfest in nearby Milwaukee, we weren’t ever going to. And last Saturday (a few weeks after saying he would “look into it”), Uncle Keith called with tickets and backstage passes.
While the former was awesome news, the latter was enthralling. Doing simple math, I realized I was likely going to meet Keith fucking Richards. And nearly three hours before The Rolling Stones took the stage at Marcus Amphitheater Tuesday, that’s exactly what happened.
Trying not to look too star struck post-handshake, and in awe of watching the two Keith’s hug/reunite, my brother (also named Keith) and I made our way to the way-too-comfy couches – exchanging a “holy shit” look as we sat down. Three packs of Marlboro Red’s, one still burning in the ashtray, and a pair of sunglasses on the coffee table – yeah we were definitely in the right place.
Shortly after Keith Richards turned up the music on his speakers, guitar whiz Ronnie Wood (wearing a fresh pair of Jordan’s) and drummer Charlie Watts stopped by. Similar to Keith, you couldn’t meet two nicer dudes. If I didn’t know I was hanging with three rock legends, I wouldn’t have known at all. Frontman extraordinaire Mick Jagger was a few floors up and not to be bothered, but it was cool just hearing a security guy say that.
Eventually, the conversation shifted to football and we all had some fun at the expense of that “bloody incident with the deflated balls.” A round of Heineken’s were passed out, and a hash pen or two may have made their way around the room as well. When Tuesday’s opening act and Chicago blues icon Buddy Guy rolled in to say what’s up, I almost laughed.
This was just too good.
We finished our Heinies and took a few pictures, which included a “three Keith’s” shot with my brother, my Uncle, and Mr. Richards. I couldn’t even be jealous. Not on this night. Especially when, on our way out, we were given that night’s set list to dissect over a few not-from-Keith-Richards’-fridge beers.
Seeing “Can’t Your Hear Me Knocking” was a pleasant surprise, and so was confirming that Buddy would be coming back out for “Champagne & Reefer.”
I assumed our tickets were decent, but I had no idea we would be in the 10th goddamn row. Thank you, music gods, for that bar in Antigua.
Safe to say the night was already a win, and whatever we got from The Stones was gravy. A fitting theme, considering we were seeing them play 50 years after their first show in Milwaukee.
Like Consequence of Sound accurately noted in their review of Tuesday’s show, The Rolling Stones have been a nostalgia act for a long time.
[quote_center]The Rolling Stones have been a nostalgia act since before I was even born. Last night in Milwaukee, they played just one song released during my lifetime, “Doom and Gloom” from 2012’s GRRR!. This would have been true for anyone aged 35 and under, could they have afforded the average $850 resale price for a single ticket.[/quote_center]
My brother and I knew we weren’t seeing The Rolling Stones in their prime. Not even close. But that’s what makes them, and a show like Tuesday’s, so incredible. Every time they play a “nostalgia show,” there’s people like us wanting to check them off the bucket list.
No matter how many times I’ve listened to “Gimme Shelter” through my headphones (a lot), there’s nothing like hearing and seeing it live.
Yes, the longer The Rolling Stones play, the more nostalgia-driven it is. But that would overlook the fact they’re “still doing it” in their mid-70’s, something my Uncle joked to Richards during our pre-show shindig. And he was right.
Ronnie was shredding the guitar, cigarette in hand. Mick was dancing his ass off, belting out lyrics. Charlie was locked in on the drums like always. Keith was in his own world, making things look easy.
A talented group of touring members – headlined by Chuck Leavell, Lisa Fischer, Bernard Fowler and Darryl Jones – lay such a solid harmonic foundation that the guys can do their thing like they always have.
Bottom line: Tuesday’s show was really good music, regardless what it looked like compared to ones of previous decades.
That was apparent from watching my Uncle and his buddy Frank – who probably have seen them 20 times combined – enjoy the set list as much as we did. Even they know every single Rolling Stones show is special.
Because, as obvious as it sounds, The Rolling Stones are special. After Tuesday night, I think you can take my word for it.