The Rolling Stones lined up a bunch of big-name guests for their “One More Shot” pay-per-view concert on Saturday night, ranging from twenty-something superstar Lady Gaga to sixty-something legend Bruce Springsteen. But the biggest reaction from the crowd went to the guest with the least celebrity power: the band’s former guitar player Mick Taylor.
Taylor, who replaced original Stones guitarist Brian Jones in 1969 and remained with the band through 1974, joined the band onstage, as he has at their recent “50 And Counting” shows, for a run through the band’s epic “Midnight Rambler.” Taylor told Billboard in a recent interview that he and the band were rehearsing another lengthy number – “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” – but, unfortunately, that didn’t make Saturday night’s set.
It was the other guests, though, that really showed the clout that The Rolling Stones still have, fifty years into their career. The first guest of the night was Lady Gaga, arguably the biggest pop star in the world at the moment. She also seemed to be the most enthusiastic guest (although there was no lack of enthusiasm from anyone). Dancing onto the stage as the band started playing “Gimme Shelter,” she belted out the female vocal part originally recorded by Merry Clayton on 1969′s Let It Bleed. At their recent shows, that part has been taken by R&B singer Mary J. Blige and British siren Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.
But Gaga seemed to be channeling Janis Joplin and Tina Turner in her singing and stage presence; her wild dancing recalled the ’60s more than the modern moves seen in her own music videos. Dressed in skin-tight black and gold catsuit and sporting a long thick mane (likely a wig), she had as much chemistry with Mick Jagger as any of his duet partners in recent memory; they were practically nose-to-nose by the end of the song. And she didn’t leave after her performance – the cameras returned to her a few times throughout the rest of the pay-per-view broadcast, revealing her dancing furiously and singing along with the rest of the fans.
Given the events of the past day, “Gimme Shelter” took on a more chilling tone, with Jagger and Gaga both singing “Children, it’s just a shot away.” Recognizing the tragic and new significance of the lyrics, after the song ended Jagger sent “Love and condolences” to everyone affected by the shooting in Connecticut the day before.
The next guests were guitar slingers John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. who joined for “bluestime” – the band’s code for playing a blues cover. They performed Freddie King’s classic “Goin’ Down” with all four guitarists – Mayer, Clark, Keith Richards and Ron Wood - trading off leads.
Next up: multiple-GRAMMY-nominated rock band The Black Keys. They were a surprising choice: earlier this year, in an interview with Rolling Stone, frontman Dan Auerbach said “I never listened to any British blues, I couldn’t stand it.” The writer of the story, Brian Hiatt, noted that Auerbach “Finds a lot of classic rock boring and ‘too normal.’” However, there was no evidence of that as they joined the Stones for a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”
Jagger said that he thought it was the first time they’d played that song in public. It was probably one of the few times that the Stones have had two drummers on stage, as Black Keys skinsman Pat Carney played along with Charlie Watts).
Jagger joked that some of their guests came from far away to make the shows on their current tour, “But this next one just had to walk here,” referring, of course, to Bruce Springsteen.
Strutting on stage with his sunburst Telecaster, Springsteen was in his full-on Otis Redding soul preacher mode. Although his voice was a bit hoarse, he seemed to be having a blast trading vocal lines with Jagger and guitar leads with Richards and Wood on “Tumbling Dice.” The song seemed like a perfect choice for New Jersey’s favorite son, and he’d be well advised to consider adding this to his sets with The E Street Band for their 2013 tour.
At the end of the night, the band took their bows with their support musicians – bassist Daryl Jones, keyboardist Chuck Leavell, singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler and saxophonists Tim Reis and Bobby Keys, along with Clark, Mayer and Taylor. Then, the band – Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wood – remained for a final bow, keeping Taylor with them. In the aforementioned Billboard interview, Taylor noted he’d be “150%” willing to play more shows with the Stones. With rumors of more dates next year circulating, fans must are surely hoping to see him more often, and for more than one song per night.
– Brian Ives, CBS Local