Saturday, October 5, 2013

1981: Stu On Stage

One of the core pleasures of Stones-watching over the years was the suspense of waiting to see what Mick Jagger would wear on stage. For his first public performances of the 1980s, Jagger favoured sporty, gay-quarterback gear mercilessly co-oordinated in bright pinks and yellows. He put on a slick show, and periodically tore across the stage on to one of a pair of catwalks extending in to the crowd, like a labrador chasing a tennis ball.

Keith Richards and Ron Wood played their guitar parts as one long, joshing by-play, complete with errors, and Charlie Watts effortlessly battered the drums. Stage left, Bill Wyman remained stationary throughout, except to neatly shoot the cuffs of his pale-blue suit, but even he looked like a manic rock star compared to Ian Stewart.

In Philadelphia, Stu walked on in front of 90,000 fans wearing ancient corduroys and a golf shirt straining over his ample midriff while munching a cheese sandwich, which he carefully placed on top of his piano. He then proceeded to play in a classic, jumping-barrelhouse style that sometimes seemed to be from another song, if not another galaxy, to the chosen repertoire [A fine example of this we find on the Stones' rendition of Eddie Cochran's 'Twenty Flight Rock' (see last post), with Stu boogieing along; Cochran's original cuts didn't contain any piano at all!].

At what proved to be one of the last moments, Ian Stewart finally got and/or took the room to perform a full set of concerts with the band he had joined before anyone else still alive. Between numbers, Stu yawned, took down the sandwich, and continued to eat it impassively.

Adapted from the following source: Christopher Sandford, The Rolling Stones Fifty Years, Simon & Schuster, 2012, p.331-332.

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