Stones Play First Show Without Charlie Watts

Band launches tour by playing tribute to the late drummer
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2021 4:59 PM CDT
Stones Play First Show Without Charlie Watts
A video tribute to Charlie Watts plays before the Rolling Stones perform at The Dome at America's Center on Sunday in St. Louis.   (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

With the stage empty, a drumbeat began Sunday night in St. Louis. Large photos were projected of the members of the Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and a smiling Charlie Watts, the drummer who died last month. At that, the band came onstage and played "Street Fighting Man," then "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It), the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The band paused after the second song as Jagger, Richards, and Woods walked to center stage. "I just want to say that it's quite emotional seeing those images of Charlie up on the screen," Jagger told the 40,000 fans. "This is our first tour that we've ever done without him."

The Stones' frontman added: "We all miss Charlie so much on the stage and off the stage, and we'd like to dedicate this tour to Charlie." The crowd cheered; Jagger said, "Here's to you, Charlie"; and "Tumbling Dice" started up. Except for a warmup show at a private event last week, it was the first time the band had played without Watts behind the drum kit since he joined in January 1963. For fans who find it cold that the band hit the stage so soon after Watts' death, Rolling Stone points out that when Watts dropped out of the planned tour because of illness, he had endorsed his bandmates hitting the road with Steve Jordan taking over on drums. The final show is scheduled for Austin on Nov. 20; the "No Filter" tour began in 2017 and was suspended last year because of the pandemic.

Here's a sampling of reviews from:

  • The Post-Dispatch. "The band sounded invigorated after its unscheduled break," Kevin Johnson writes. And Jagger can still move. The remaining core members are in the 70s, and if this turns out to be their last tour, they'll have wrapped up their careers nicely. "It's been a bit of ride to get here, you know," Richards said at one point.
  • The Guardian. The funkier, "tight new rhythm section" seems to answer the uncertainty, Edward Helmore writes, adding that Jordan's playing "brings the band closer to the tougher rock of Richards’ solo work." A few songs in, Richards stepped over to Jordan to say, After the fifth song, 19th Nervous Breakdown, Richards walks back to clasp Jordan’s wrist and say, "Yeah, it works."
  • The AP. Jagger looked maybe a third his age, Jim Salter, writes, "a constant whirl of motion." Even now, Jagger's vocals, "and the guitar work of Wood and Richards, sounded as good as ever."
  • Rolling Stone. Jordan, who's played in a Richards side project for years, differs from Watts, Andy Greene writes. "With his sunglasses and gold chains, Jordan has a lot more flash and charisma than the notoriously stoic and expressionless Watts," Greene says. But when it comes to the music, "he's a student of Watts' drumming and played his parts with precision, power, and respect."
(More Rolling Stones stories.)

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