Rolling Stones open American tour, pay tribute to drummer Charlie Watts

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ST. LOUIS — The Rolling Stones are touring once more, this time with out their heartbeat, or at the least their backbeat.

The legendary rockers launched their pandemic-delayed “No Filter” tour Sunday on the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis with out their drummer of practically six many years. It was clear from the outset simply how a lot the band members — and the followers — missed Charlie Watts, who died final month at age 80. Except for a personal present in Massachusetts final week, the St. Louis live performance was their first since Watts’ dying.

The present opened with an empty stage and solely a drumbeat, with pictures of Watts flashing on the video board. After the second music, a rousing rendition of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood got here to the entrance of the stage. Jagger and Richards clasped palms as they thanked followers for the outpouring of assist and love for Watts. Jagger acknowledged it was emotional seeing the pictures of Watts.

“This is our first-ever tour we’ve ever done without him,” Jagger mentioned. “We’ll miss Charlie so much, on and off the stage.”

The band then devoted “Tumbling Dice” to Watts.

A video tribute to Charlie Watts performs earlier than the Rolling Stones carry out in the course of the “No Filter” tour.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP

The tour had been scheduled for 2020 earlier than the coronavirus just about shut down the touring business. Signs of the pandemic had been all over the place on the present in Missouri, a state hit onerous by the virus’s delta variant.

The tens of 1000’s of followers wore masks as required by St. Louis’ anti-virus protocol. The Stones themselves appeared in a public service announcement urging anybody with signs to keep dwelling. A vaccination web site was arrange on the dome, with plans for comparable websites at every tour cease.

The live performance itself featured the identical driving beat personified by Watts, thanks to his alternative, Steve Jordan. The drummer could also be new to followers however he’s hardly new to the Stones — Jordan has carried out for years with Richards’ aspect project, X-Pensive Winos, together with many different main acts.

Still, die-hard followers couldn’t assist however miss Watts, broadly thought-about one in every of rock’s best drummers, despite the fact that his actual love was jazz. He joined Jagger and Richards within the Rolling Stones in 1963. Wood joined in 1975.

For Laura Jezewski, 62, of Omaha, Nebraska, seeing the Stones with out Watts was bittersweet.

“It’s really sad,” she mentioned. “He’s the first of the old Stones to pass away.”

The present featured the band’s lengthy litany of hits. Jagger hardly appeared like a 78-year-old man, strutting across the stage like a person half — or one-third of his age; a continuing whirl of movement. His vocals, and the guitar work of Wood and Richards, sounded pretty much as good as ever.

After St. Louis, the tour will embrace stops in Charlotte, North Carolina; Pittsburgh; Nashville, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Tampa, Florida; Dallas; Atlanta; Detroit; and ending in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 20. The band additionally added new dates in Los Angeles on Oct. 14 and Oct. 17, and a live performance in Las Vegas on Nov. 6.

Mick Jagger sings onstage with the Rolling Stones in St. Louis.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Jezewski and her 60-year-old husband, Brad, introduced their 30-year-old daughter, Sarah, to St. Louis for the live performance. It was Sarah’s first likelihood to see the Rolling Stones. Her mother and pop have seen them in varied locations — Ames, Iowa; Boulder, Colorado; Denver; even Wichita, Kansas — courting again to the Seventies.

With the surviving band members effectively into their 70s, the Jezewskis didn’t need to miss this opportunity.

“If it is their last time — we’re here,” Brad Jezewski mentioned. “And if there’s another tour, we’ll be there, too.”