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The Rolling Stones | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Celebrating a relationship with Philadelphia audiences that dates back 54 years (“54 fucking years,” according to Mick Jagger) and a noted assemblage of torn down arenas, The Rolling Stones sold out the Lincoln Financial Center on Tuesday night to adoring longtime fans (at least the t-shirts were old) and people with lots of money to burn (2 front pit tickets were easily $3000).

With Jagger back to fighting fitness after his recent heart surgery (which cancelled an earlier “No Filter” Philly tour date in the first place), Keith Richards back to brown hair (he let it go white for a while), Ron Wood looking fitter than ever (sobriety suits him) and Charlie Watts grinning (!!!!), the evening was prime latter-day strong Stones – ragged, slower, noisier and mightily rocking. Along with finding, then burrowing deep into each song’s rhythmic pocket (thank you, Charlie and bassist Daryl Jones), the Rolling Stones – in small, nuanced ways – managed to make even the most timeworn of its tracks freshly funky.

This included everything from Jagger’s low guttural yowling away from the mic and a gospel hootenenay code to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a more pensive than usual “Street Fighting Man” with Richards’ second line sounding like “Monkey Man,” and a cornball acoustic take on “Angie” from the intimate catwalk stage that was so marvelous messy, the foursome seemed to be laughing at it. (Not so messy though was that small stage’s version of the Stones’ country-billy “Dead Flowers,” complete with Jagger lowering his octave to a deep, bassy hoot and Richards’ first real harmony vocal of the night. That harmony alone was worth $3,000 – not that I was paying).

The Rolling Stones | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

From that aforementioned slower take on “Street Fighting Man,” the set’s opener, there was no pretending that this group were a bunch of kids, despite Jagger’s renewed energy. They certainly weren’t pretending. Instead, they seemed to take their time, more than ever, finding and exploiting the good groove on chestnuts such as the blues stomping extended jam on “Midnight Rambler” and the slipped discoid “Miss You,” elongated by Jones’ rubber banded bass flexings. Musically, however, it was the stinging, back-and-forth solos courtesy Wood and Richard that was the night’s high point. If one ever imagined a band of such stealth and age phoning in a performance, look no further than these gentlemen guitars and their razoring leads.

Another fantastic part of the evening was humor. While every band member couldn’t stop from grinning, it was Jagger who played court jester throughout the evening, whether flouncing down the catwalk during a particularly horny “Tumbling Dice” or introducing the fan favorite pick of the night (this time, a blunt blowsy “Bitch”) as something chose from a very expensive set of graphics.

The Rolling Stones | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Along with spreading powder on the stage due to its lingering dampness and wearing a series of funny hats, Jagger called Wood the “cheesesteak Chagall,” stated that Watts was “from Preservation Hall to Independence Hall,” and made mention of former Eagles QB Nick Foles having said hello from the Stones last tour stop at Jacksonville’s Jaguar Stadium.

When Jagger wasn’t busy joking and the band wasn’t continually smiling, the Rolling Stones’ four principle members communicated to each other with fleeting, knowing glance and a decades-old intuition that comes through the pores of every note and every word like sweet, funky sweat.

Amazing.

Below, check out a gallery of photos from the show by The Key’s Josh Pelta-Heller, plus the setlist and fan videos from YouTube user Jim Powers.

Setlist
Street Fighting Man
You Got Me Rocking
Tumbling Dice
Bitch
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
2120 South Michigan Avenue
Angie
Dead Flowers
Sympathy for the Devil
Honky Tonk Women
Slipping Away
Before They Make Me Run
Miss You
Midnight Rambler
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter
Start Me Up
Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Encore:
Brown Sugar
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction








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