It Was Only PPV, But I Liked It

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After years of being out of the pay-per-view event game, I got back in the last two Saturday nights.

On Dec. 8, my son Alex and I headed to a local tavern, plunked down a pair of ten spots and watchedJuan Manuel Marquez send Manny Pacquiao face down at the close of the sixth round, perhaps putting an end to the Filipino Congressman’s boxing career.

Whetted by the two-song tease of "You Got Me Rocking" and "Jumping Jack Flash" at the "12-12-12" Superstorm Sandy Relief event I watched on MSG, I ordered the Rolling Stones' PPV show from Newark’s Prudential Center on Dec. 15 for $44.95 – hoping against hope that the final night of their five-stop 50th anniversary “One More Shot” tour wasn’t really their last performance (a question first posed in 1965).

My investment initially yielded promo footage from the red carpet for HBO doc Crossfire Hurricane in London and then was let bleed into clips from the Stones warm-up show in Paris. Then a host of fans and celebrities talked about the Stones and which member of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band they would like to do or watch in the act (positions unspecified).

Iggy Pop, Cate Blanchett, Marty Scorsese and Pete Townshend, among others, weighed in, but Johnny Depp perhaps said it best (or at least channeled True Blood). Sitting in front of a well-endowed gorilla, the symbol of “Grrr,” the group’s current greatest hits compilation, Depp declared: “They’re great songs to do bad things to.”

A phalanx of stick-knocking, masked human primates sauntered through the Newark crowd before the boys appeared within their lips-framed stage, with a runway-proscenium redolent of a mouth retainer, and jumped into "Get Off Of My Cloud."

"The Last Time" followed, with rear-screen projections showing clips from days of yore, including images of the late Brian Jones and Bill Wyman, who made the scene at the band's 02 dates in London last month. Did Mick Jagger linger just a tad on the last line? I just don’t know.

After "It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll," which featured the frontman whirling his jacket and showcasing the moves like Jagger -- atomic rooster strut, right hand gripping the mic, the southpaw pointing, gesticulating  --  he welcomed all the people watching on TV. Shout-outs were doled out to folks in the U.S., England,  Australia, Japan, Norway and “bonjour Paris,” while those at the Pru were reminded that they were on television and that “some of you may have your grandchildren watching you.”

Keith Richards – looking more focused than in tours past, according to colleague Brian Moran, who caught the Dec. 8 show at Barclays Center-- sported his ubiquitous headband and skull ring, while mate Ronnie Wood was casual in a long sleeve shirt that opened to reveal a white tee reading “Party all night long.”  For his part, Charlie Watts was good tonight, impassively keeping time amidst the controlled mayhem up front.

Spinning around, shaking his hips during the famous intro, Jagger was joined on "Gimme Shelter" by a chunky Lady Gaga, squeezed into a silver-and-black vertical striped jump suit, with shoulder pads of sort. She shook her long platinum hair, as she perched on giant platforms backed by stiletto heels. Their dueling “kiss-aways” preceded an embrace for the boys.

After paying respects to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., "Wild Horses" gave way to the second set of guests, John Mayer and Gary Clark, Jr., making for an amazing guitar foursome on Freddy King’s "I’m Going Down." Clark teamed with Jagger on the mic on the show’s highlight to that point.

The audience request song was "Dead Flowers," which sprouted with a high twang quotient with Jagger strumming acoustically, but missed Wood’s slide work here. (That was rectified by his pedal steel moments on Richards’ Walk "Before They Make Me Run.")

The Black Keys and Bruce Springsteen (fresh off his 12-12-12 opener) enlivened "Who Do You Love?" and "Tumbling Dice," respectively.

As for the two new songs , "One More Shout," with Wood stepping to the fore, came across better on stage than the superior recording, "Doom and Gloom."

The wind-down was vintage Stones. There was no blow-up doll or parade of babes, but "Honky Tonk Women" rocked with Chuck Leavell banging hard on the keys, while Mick Taylor’s soloing complemented Jagger’s harmonica and strutting on a mischievous "Midnight Rambler."

Encore "You Can’t  Always Get What You Want" benefited greatly from the estereal voices of the Trinity Brown Choir.

All down the line, it was an enjoyable show that demonstrated the wrinkly rockers can still do it in a stripped down (guests aside), less histrionic fashion than their last jaunt, the massive "Bigger Bang" tour.

If it was in fact The Last Time, then I have a souvenir on my DVR until a more permanent keepsake becomes available for another contribution to Rolling Stones LLC. Hopefully, this night in Newark turns out to be a nice lead-in for a chance to pay to view the Stones in person one last time next year.  After all, as Richards pointed out, he sees the golden anniversary of the band occurring in 2013 -- because Watts didn’t join the company until 1963.

Rolling Stones' Setlist, Dec. 15 Show At Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

Get Off Of My Cloud

The Last Time

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)

Paint  It Black

Gimme Shelter (Lady Gaga)

Wild Horses

I’m Going Down (John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr.)

Dead Flowers

Who Do You Love? (Black Keys)

Doom and Gloom

One More Shot

Miss You

Honky Tonk Women

Before They Make Me Run

Happy

Midnight Rambler (Mick Taylor)

Start Me Up

Tumbling Dice (Bruce Springsteen)

Brown Sugar

Sympathy Devil

Encores

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Trinity Brown Choir)

Jumping Jack Flash

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

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