NEW YORK — Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.
With Wednesday’s announcement of a new Stones tour, those words will again signal the start of a rock ’n’ roll show. Young music fans may wonder why there’s still a fuss over dad’s, or grandpa’s, favorite band. Here are five reasons to care.
1. Living history: Elvis Presley is dead. The Beatles will never perform again. The Who is down to two originals. Membership of rock’s Greatest Generation is fading. The Stones, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney are links to a special time in music history, and you can still see them in concert. If the Stones’ form of classic rock moves you, it’s hard to conceive of a band today building such an impressive catalog in the same style. Fashion, and the business, has moved on.
2. Live band: They’ll never admit it, but deep down the Stones surely know they haven’t made memorable new music in decades. They have, however, kept their chops and deliver the songs you want to hear with power and precision. You can’t find a better Stones tribute band. The Stones are fully aware of their best work; you won’t hear a flabby show. The past few times out, it has been more than greatest hits performed on autopilot.
3. Keith Richards: There was a time, kids, when Keith was a menace to society, a walking advertisement of the evils of drugs. Now he’s a beloved figure, humanized by one of rock’s best biographies and the model for Johnny Depp’s Capt. Jack Sparrow character in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. He’s your cool, crazy uncle. He plays a pretty decent guitar, too.
4. Charlie’s face: There’s no better facial expression in rock ’n’ roll than the bemused one worn by drummer Charlie Watts as he takes in the madness around him. Watch Watts when Mick Jagger does a particularly audacious chicken strut.
5. The last time: We’ll be surprised if this is labeled as some sort of retirement tour; they’ve been subjected to so many age jokes over the years that the topic itself is old. And these men are in surprisingly good shape for the years of hard living. But Richards is 69, the same age as Mick. Watts will be 72 in June. Reality is catching up. Probably even before they expect it, they’ll be singing “The Last Time” for the last time.