The Stones – As Usual; An Event …

The Rolling Stones – fittingly, arrived on stage at the Bell Center last evening, practically fifty minutes late. Fifty and Counting …?

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As with every tour or show since 1989, they arrive in each city under a cloud of various predictions or guesses. Unlike their ‘solo’ contemporaries ( for reasons best left to the overweight, non – active, jaded and ‘I am stuck in a shitty life’ DVD armchair viewers), Andrew Loog Oldham‘s group – take the blame for getting old.

Non – gracefully.

Why can’t people ( veteran music writers raise your hands), accept the simple fact The Rolling Stones are continuing to do what they do best while struggling with Mother Nature and her cruel – aging ways. With the opening chords of ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ and the sheer presence of men historic beyond historic – everyone in attendance should immediately have tossed their critical pens into a vat of prime 1962 ink. After all, if a retired plumber takes two hours longer to fix a pipe – really, who gives a ‘wrench’ as long as the pipe is fixed.

‘It’s Only Rock n Roll’, ‘Paint it Black’ and  ‘Gimme Shelter’ were performed by the three – then four,  of the men who created the blue print. The template for everyone else to follow. How many people would pay six hundred dollars to witness Van Gogh or Picasso paint? Quite a few. Billions globally in fact …

The Rolling Stones have paid their dues. Enough to be able charge whatever they want if people deem the prices enough to witness history. Without their defiance – there is no Led Zeppelin. Without their willpower – there is no Jack White.  Without the Rolling Stones,  a society where popular music consists solely on Beatle and Beach Boy – driven ‘Coldplay’ and ‘Oasis’ tunes may exist. Imagine a world filled with nothing but Roses. Void of thorns. Void of spirit. An orb floating through space known as ‘ a weak peace – loving bunch of pussys’  by the remainder of the Rock n Roll solar system. Planet earth is blue and there would be nothing we could do about it …

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The Rolling Stones have done something about it for fifty years and last night, they delivered a concert at seventy – five percent of their one time ability. Through no fault of their own.

Twenty – five percent missing. With the exception of Micheal Phillip Jagger.

The brother of Chris, the target of so much governmental hatred. The brilliant specimen of a man in so many ways, continues to sing as if he was frozen in time. His voice, dipping wonderfully into the Blues, the Soul and the R and B classroom from which he graduated. If the Stones were not playing every three or four nights on their current tour, Jagger – without so much as batting an eye, could dance around his famed tongue with ease. Therein lies the genius withing the man. Better to tone down each show than risk burning out and fading away. Time on one’s side – one thing. Physics – something else entirely.

A glance around the Bell Center last night and with a Chuck Berry ear to the ground – it is easy to discover Jagger’s own words ringing true.

‘Wild Horses’, ‘Honky Tonk Woman‘, ‘Happy’, ‘Miss You’, ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Tumblin’ Dice’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Can’t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Jumpin Jack Flash‘ and ‘Satisfaction’. Eleven classic songs played more often by the Stones in concert than the number of occasions Barack Obama has lied to the America People. Songs sung so often – a wonder that Jagger himself does not turn on the Karaoke machine and get Stephen Tyler todance for him.

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Every Stones tour, due to the very hard work the band put in for three decades, gathers moss. Grandparents tell their children and so on and so on. Thousands if not millions every year – wanting, yearning to attend a Stone concert to hear the songs for the very first time live. Eardrums losing their virginity to an inflatable penis long forgotten.

Diehard Stones’ fans do not like it yet – so diehard,  it just does not matter.

Within each planned concert set-list, lies the gems and the moments. The Keef – isms, the Bobby Keys’ Sax solos, the once – in- show moment when Jagger and Richards recoil to the two young boys meeting at the train station with Blues records in tow. The ‘Dead Flowers’, the ‘Emotional Rescues’ – the ( current old- now -new again) Mick Taylor riffs. Since the band first appeared in America in 1964, there is a fascination to see ‘the skinny guy with the big lips’ and his ‘scruffy’, unwashed  mates perform.

Every tour also contains the new songs. The tunes which – upon release, receive the ho – hum reception without the ‘glass of wine in hand’. The very same tunes which – once upon a time,  contained names like ‘Angie’, ‘When the Whip Comes Down’, ‘She’s So Cold’, ‘One Hit to the Body‘, ‘Terrifying’, ‘Love is Strong’ and ‘Saint of Me’. Ho-hums turned into ‘just more bullets’ in the Stones gigantic assault rifle. In 2013 – ‘Doom and Gloom’ and ‘One More Shot’ can now be added to the continuous war on the Justin Biebers of the world. A pair of songs which will somehow outlast the biggest hit a band like The Sheepdogs could ever shake from their soon – to- be dusty fur.

The Bell Center last night, rocked. The crowd rolled. The contingent containing the make – up of a family of Rock n Roll post – Pink Floyd picnickers – departed awestruck, pleased and ready to go back for more.

A feeling The Rolling Stones have left their fans with for fifty years. Fifty and Counting ….

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Gilberto Gil; A Brazilian Mick Jagger?

When a seventy year old man is able to lift people from their seats – over and over and over again …

A flip of the fedora in his direction is not just necessary – it is required.

Photo courtesy of Anne Achan

Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira, born in 1942, is the man responsible for a love – in at Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts last night. Who knew that a man from  Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, could one day be king of Montreal – if only for a couple of days.

Dressed entirely in a white suit and a blue guitar as an accessory, Gil was a presence the moment he took center stage. John Bon Jovi and Stephen Tyler take note. Before the status of Mick Jagger is obtained – an obstacle by the name of Gilberto stands in the way.

Gil is an icon. Gil is a performer and a groundbreaking songwriter. Gil is special.

With his trademark dance moves a la James Brown / Jagger, his falsetto notes arriving on cue and an ability to raise the level of the musicians around him – Gil possesses that ‘something’ which all superstars possess. Elvis Presley had it, Micheal Jackson had it and the man who was at one time his country’s Minister of Culture – is one of the few living who not only ‘have it’, know precisely how to use ‘it’.

Photo courtesy of Anne Achan

That’s exactly what Gil did, utilizing every tool in his white suit jacket to get the audience so involved – the rain outside, a footnote in the long history of Montreal Jazz shows.

Gil utilized his song;  ‘Fe Na Festa’, as an instrument of warmth. A beach – the only thing missing in a theater suddenly alive with rays of musical sunshine. People perked up, they took notice and from that point forward – a sold out theater  were drinking from the palm of the ‘once upon a time’ jailbird’s palm.

‘Vamos Fugir’, ‘Expresso 2222’ and ‘Andar com Fe’ – three songs ripe with a vocal following from the crowd mixed in age, continued a stand-up, sit-down, stand-up roller coaster of a set. The crowd danced, the ushers danced, the band danced and the man himself –  appearing ghostly under a white spotlight, summoned  the only man who may have been able to upstage Gil himself.

Bob Marley appeared. Through song. Particularly – ‘Three Little Birds‘ and ‘No Woman No Cry’. A pair of tunes which rode along within Gil’s four decade repertoire. A duo which delivered smiles to people’s faces and warmth to the coldest of souls.

People were lifted out of their seats over and over again.

Even seventy year old men …

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