When you’re one of the past century’s most productive and decorated artists — 24 studio albums, nine number 1 albums, 23 top ten hits, 60 years of touring experience, at least one knighthood — it’d be understandable if you carried yourself with an air of self-importance and seriousness. That was not the vibe, however, that The Rolling Stones brought to their first Philadelphia show in five years.

The rock legends were loose and lively in front of a densely packed crowd at Lincoln Financial Field last night. Founding members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards mixed it up with longtime guitarist Ronnie Wood, laughing and leaping atop one another around the expansive stage. Jagger gave the Phillies’ recent London exhibition a shoutout as the viral photo of the Phanatic in Tower Guard attire flashed onscreen. (“The Phillies are in London, and you got us,” he joked.) Richards hit a few bum notes in the show-opening moments of “Start Me Up,” shrugged, and riffed onward.

Last year’s Hackney Diamonds, the first Stones’ record in 20 years, was the sound of longtime rockers having a great time in the studio; in XPN’s Best of 2023 MEGA-LIST, our Jim McGuinn said it’s “as fun to listen to as it must have been to make,” and that spirited atmosphere took over The Linc, with the album’s single “Angry” fitting remarkably strongly alongside song-siblings 50+ years its senior.

The Rolling Stones | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

While the energy was buttoned down, the setlist was mostly the tightly-plotted career showcase the band has been doing on this run. It wasn’t without its surprises — “She’s A Rainbow” from Their Satanic Majesties Request was an unexpected treat — but it wasn’t without its occasional misfires either.

The Mick Jagger of 2024 has a propensity, particularly on the longer jams, to play fast and loose with his phrasing — not in a “OMG, did he just forget the lyrics to ‘Sympathy For The Devil'” way (he absolutely knows and nails the words) but more in a “how the heck are you singing this song now, man?” way.  Richards, meanwhile, took lead vocals on a three-song block mid-set when, maybe, one might have sufficed. (“Happy” sounded great, for what it’s worth.) For his part, Wood bopped in and out of the scene with mystique, but when he was on, he was shredding.

The Rolling Stones | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If it sometimes threatened to get too unwieldy, credit the large coterie of musicians backing the three veteran Stones with keeping the train running. Steve Jordan nobly filled the drum throne of the late great Charlie Watts; Chanelle Haynes’ backing vocals soared, and sent chills down our collective spines on “Gimmie Shelter,” doing a respectable homage to Merry Clayton’s iconic performance on the album. The horn section of Karl Denson, Tim Ries, and Matt Clifford made “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” soar; bassist Daryll Jones, percussionist Bernard Fowler, and keyboardist / backing vocalist Chuck Leavell brought verve and vivacity throughout the night.

The tightness of this crew gave Jagger, Richards, and Wood space to relax and stretch out. And when they locked in and focused on what they do best — Jagger strutting the stage, shaking his hips, and working the stadium crowd, Richards dishing deeply gnarly delta blues inspired riffage, Wood’s playful air — the results were magic.

This coalesced on the massive set centerpiece, a near-10 minute rendition of “Midnight Rambler” from Let It Bleed, where Jagger’s howling harmonica bobbed and wove between wailing licks from Richards and Wood, and the collective backing them brought the energy up and down, back and forth in dynamic waves that left the Linc breathless.

The Rolling Stones | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” sent us all off into the night, and it was as much a delight for the Stones first-timers as it was for the amped-up front-row fans who have been seeing them since the 60s; the band’s first Philadelphia concert was in 1965 at Convention Hall with Herman’s Hermits, as Jagger noted, and if this could be the last time, the band couldn’t have gone out on a higher note.

Check out a gallery of photos from The Rolling Stones’ concert at The Linc below, including a few from the opening set by Icelandic bluesy modern rock five-piece Kaleo. The Hackney Diamonds tour continues this Saturday, June 15th, at Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, full dates can be found here.

The Rolling Stones
Lincoln Financial Field
  • Start Me Up
  • It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)
  • Let's Spend The Night Together
  • Angry
  • She's A Rainbow
  • Monkey Man
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Mess It Up
  • You Can't Always Get What You Want
  • Tell Me Straight
  • Little T&A
  • Happy
  • Sympathy For The Devil
  • Honky Tonk Woman
  • Midnight Rambler
  • Gimmie Shelter
  • Paint It Black
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash
  • (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction