With a nod and a wink to their big-tongued logo, the Rolling Stones kicked off their “Licks” tour on Tuesday night in front of 16,000 roaring fans who lapped up every minute of it.
Four decades after the Stones first took their blues-steeped soul to the stage, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the band launched what may be their most ambitious tour yet with a two-hour show at Boston’s Fleet Center.
“There’s nothing so exciting as starting an American tour on the first night,” the 59-year-old Jagger told the audience. “And there’s nothing so exciting as starting it here in Boston.”
The Stones plan to play some 40 shows across North America over the next five months – mixing 60,000-seat stadiums with arenas like the Fleet Center and throwing in a few intimate theaters to boot.
True to form, Jagger swaggered across the stage and gesticulated wildly as he and the band belted out 22 songs during a show that seemed aimed at Stones purists.
Over half of the show was drawn from the band’s heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
After opening with “Street-Fighting Man,” the band dusted off less-well-known tunes like “Stray Cat Blues,” “Loving Cup,” “Rocks Off” and “Rip This Joint.”
They followed these with mass-appeal favorites in the second half, performing “Honky Tonk Women,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Brown Sugar” before ending with an encore of “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Along the way, they mixed in a cover of the O’Jays’ “Love Train” and the pounding blues song “Mannish Boy.”
“That was fun. We’ve never let that one out in public before,” Jagger, clad in a dazzling white trench coat and fedora hat, said after performing “Love Train.”
While newly knighted Jagger ruled the show like a cocksure regent, time appeared to be catching up with the ashen Richards.
At 58, Richards lurched across the stage like a crippled spider, and his voice appeared drowned out by the back-up singers when he took the reins from Jagger for “Slipping Away” and “Happy.”
At some points in the show, the footage on the giant video screen behind the stage generated more interest than the band members themselves.
During “Honky Tonk Woman,” an animated bare-breasted female climbed onto the Rolling Stones juicy tongue logo – riding it like a bucking bronco until the giant red mouth swallowed her whole.