Sunday, July 1, 2018

Our Rolling Stones weekend in Stuttgart... part three

The gates at the Mercedes Benz Arena were due to open at 5:00pm.  Although the concert wasn't going to start until 7:15, we decided to head over early, just to take in the scene.  I wisely decided not to bring my big purse with me, after being forced to lock it up at the museum.  Having seen some of the purses hanging off of the women at the show last night, I probably could have got into the venue with mine, although lockers were also available at the arena.  It was good that I didn't bring it.  I didn't need it.


On the way to the stadium...

We took a cab to the stadium and walked the short distance to security, which was thoughtfully staffed with female friskers for nervous ladies.  After we were frisked, we scanned the barcodes on our tickets and walked into the massiveness that is the Mercedes Benz Arena.  I had never been there before, although we did see Sting at the Porsche Arena next door.  We found our seats, 18 and 19 in row 13 in A6.  They were pretty close... at least when the arena is empty.  When it's full, the seats don't seem quite so close to the stage.


Security scene...


I guess people mistook this for a bathroom one too many times.


First view of the arena.  It's massive.


A view of where we sat before it was full of people.



Small concessions area.  They had plastic cups with the Rolling Stones logo on them.  We probably should have foregone the pfand and brought a couple home.

We decided to have beer at the concessions stand.  Bill got me a bratwurst and fries, although I had asked for currywurst.  I don't think the lady running the concessions heard him right.  There were also guys walking around the stadium selling beer and sodas out of camelbacks, ice creams, and sandwiches.  That was about the extent of what was available food wise.




You can see the guy who sat next to me in this picture, although I didn't know he'd be sitting next to me when I took this shot.



I was interested in the clothes people wore to this event.  A few people were dressed up.  A whole lot of people were wearing concert t-shirts.  Many people were as old or older than Bill and me.  Almost everyone, whether or not they had a seat, was standing for most of the show.  I only mention this because at most concerts I've attended, people don't necessarily stand if they can sit.  Most German audiences are fairly subdued, yet appreciative.  Not so at this concert.  

The Stones have been rotating several different opening bands for the 2018 No Filter Tour.  Last night, the opening band was The Kooks, from Brighton, England.  I had never heard of them before.  I actually enjoyed their music, although the lead singer, Luke Pritchard, who looks like a Dallas era version of Patrick Duffy, appeared to be trying to channel Mick Jagger and failed miserably.  I watched him dance and work the stage, but there wasn't much connection between his movement and the expression on his face.  But I did enjoy their set and Luke's weird shoes, which appeared to be fur lined slippers of some sort.



A few shots of the Kooks... This is Luke Pritchard, aka young Patrick Duffy.


Alexis Nunez stole the show.  At one point, they showed him in the audience while the Stones were playing and he looked positively orgasmic.  I was drawn to him more than the Kooks' frontman.


Luke Pritchard promised us that the Stones were "on fire".  He didn't lie.

Frankly, I think the star in that band is the drummer, Alexis Nunez.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of him when he was on the big screen.  He appeared to be taking a gigantic crap as he hit the skins-- his eyes were squinty and teeth were clenched with effort as he pounded out rhythms, but I couldn't help but be attracted...  Hmm... I guess that says something else about me.  I did like their music enough to download a few of their albums.  I probably wouldn't necessarily work hard to get to one of their shows, but they were appealing enough.

A lot of people started showing up to the arena when it got closer to about nine o'clock, including the people sitting beside Bill and me.  The guy next to me was very tall and wore a tank top and cowboy hat.  He was also a smoker and didn't hesitate to light up several times during the performance.  I know smoking is perfectly fine in Germany, but I can't imagine being so rude as to basically smoke in someone's face like that guy did to me.  Oh well... I guess it's important to satisfy that nic fit.  I needed a shower anyway, after all the sweating I did.  Seriously, the chairs were arranged tightly.  It reminded me of being in the center seat on an airplane.



Half-time, which seemed to take forever as the roadies set the stage.  I noticed that the Stones have been staggering their performances, having shows every few days.  After watching them last night and they extreme level of energy, especially from Mick, I can't blame them for taking a rest.


The audience reacts as the band takes the stage. I needed a step stool.




I was blown away by Mick Jagger's stage presence.  Yes, I've seen him perform on TV, but it really isn't the same as when you see him live.  There is no other person like him.  He's a true marvel of nature.  His charisma is just astonishing.  Hard to believe he's about to turn 75.


Ronnie Wood is also incredibly charismatic and sexy.  Not many people can pull off that look he has. He reminded me of a supermodel.


This was the view of the stage without the big screen.  I would have fared better if genetics had blessed me with a few more inches of height.


The bearded guy, Chuck Leavell, played wicked keyboards last night.  He's American and has been playing with the Stones since 1982.  I was blown away by his playing.


Keith Richards was looking like he was having a blast!  To be honest, although I have always enjoyed The Rolling Stones' music, I am not a super fan.  I had heard a lot of jokes about Keith Richards looking almost dead, but didn't see any truth to the jokes last night.  He seemed very self-effacing and almost even overwhelmed by the love he got from the crowd last night.  


And here is drummer, Charlie Watts, who seemed the most straightlaced of the group.  He made me laugh with his goofy facial expressions and laid back demeanor.


Mick engages the crowd.




I shared one of these pictures on Facebook and a friend thought I was at a rally where people were burning an effigy of Donald Trump.  Nope... it was actually Mick Jagger who was on fire.

Below are a few more pictures from the show.  To be honest, I took more video than photos.  I normally don't video at concerts, but almost everyone was doing it and, frankly, it's hard to capture the magic of Mick Jagger in a still shot, especially when you're not close and many people are in the way.  I will try to make a video of the clips I have and will, perhaps, eventually put it in this post.  Suffice to say, the man did not stop shaking his ass the whole concert.  His stamina was incredible.  No wonder he has eight kids.  I was also impressed that he spoke a fair amount of German.  Apparently, the Stones have been coming to Germany, particularly the Stuttgart area, for many years. Mick even spoke a little Schwabish to the crowd, which made them go wild.


I was amazed by Mick Jagger's energy.  He has a way of making you feel like he's only singing for you.  The camera loves him and no matter what he says or does, it looks natural.  It's almost like performing is as as easy as breathing for him.  This is in sharp contrast to what I observed when Bill and I saw Eric Clapton in 2004.  Although Clapton had a fantastic opening band-- Robert Randolph and the Family Band-- his own performance was uninspired and lackluster.  I would not pay to see Eric Clapton again, even in the cheap seats, even though I still love his music. 








One of the two amazing sax players.  I have samples of them on video.

Before I close this post, I must write a bit about the Stones' female backup singer, Sasha Allen, who joined the band in 2016 after previous backup vocalist Lisa Fischer left to pursue a solo career.  I am myself a singer, so I have a real appreciation for raw talent and what it takes to make the sounds Sasha makes.  Sasha Allen has some seriously powerful pipes.  At the end of the show, she and Mick did a fierce version of "Gimme Shelter" that brought the house down.  Yes, I recorded most of it.  And yes, as excellent Mick Jagger is as a performer, even he seemed blown away by Sasha Allen's big voice.  She rivals Jennifer Hudson.  

Now that I'm looking at her entry on Wikipedia, I see that Sasha Allen was also in the cult classic movie, Camp, which I discovered when we lived in Germany the first time.  I love that movie!  Anyway, she and the rest of the collaborators were every bit as good as the Stones themselves were.  It was a fantastic concert, in part, because of all of the backing musicians.  And Mick was great about sharing the stage with all of them.



Final bows...  The show ended with some rather sudden fireworks that went off, ejaculation style, at the end of the show.  Bill turned to me and said, "Well... that was unexpected."  Sometimes I forget he has a touch of PTSD from his time in Iraq.

Once the show was over, the stadium emptied out in a surprisingly orderly fashion.  Thousands of people streamed out into the street and headed in different directions.  We had to walk about a mile and a half from the stadium until we got to where the road was open.  We were lucky to score a cab who whisked us back to the hotel, where our favorite Italian bartender was waiting.  We had a nightcap and I took a shower, then we passed out.  I slept until 9:00am today.  I don't remember the last time I did that.

We ran into our new Icelandic friends at breakfast and managed to say goodbye after we each raved about the show.  After breakfast, we settled up with the hotel-- our bill came to 540 euros and included Friday night's dinners and last night's nightcap.

Final thoughts...

Okay... so I spent $1200 on our tickets once all of the taxes and conversion rates were added.  Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have expected to pay that much to see a concert and none of the other shows I've booked so far have cost that much.  Was it worth it?  To be honest, yes.  The show was incredible.  I don't think I like arena concerts that much because of how huge the crowds are and how hard it is to get in and out.  However, I can see why the Stones attract such huge crowds.  They are truly awesome live.  I can't believe they've been playing for over 50 years and are still kicking so much ass.

I think if I ever spring for really expensive seats again, I'll be more careful about their actual location within the venue.  I might try for aisle seats if I'm going to pay $1200 to see a show.

Still I think it'll be awhile before I've processed last night's show.  It was really amazing.  I'm delighted that we were able to attend.  I'm even more delighted that my husband had so much fun.  At one point, he turned to me with a big grin on his face and said, "I would never do this if it weren't for you."  I often wonder what my purpose in life is.  I think one of the main reasons I'm here is to make sure Bill has as much fun as possible for the rest of his life.  It's a nice job to have.

Mick Jagger is just an incredible frontman.  He blew my brains out, just as I knew he would.  Many thanks to Stuttgart and the Stones for making last night so amazing.  

2 comments:

  1. If Sasha Allen's voice rivals that of Jennifer hudson, I would enjoy hearing her.

    My mom's older sister used to have a poster of Patrick Duffy on her wall. Her siblings still tease her about it.

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    1. I didn't learn to like Patrick Duffy until I was a lot older and he'd been off Dallas for awhile.

      I was blown away by Sasha Allen, especially since I didn't realize she was in Camp. That movie also launched Anna Kendrick's career.

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