Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Only Rock and Roll




Under a bright moonlit sky, we watched Mick Jagger shimmy and shake his skinny body to some pretty classy guitar playing by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, and thunderous drumming by Charlie Watts. It was an audio feast, a visual display of extraordinary artistry, and an extravaganza of special effects that shook the ground and heated the air. What a spectacular show! It was my first real rock concert-yes, I led a bit of a sheltered teenage life! The Rolling Stones certainly didn't come to Champaign Urbana.

We arrived at the Oakland Coliseum early to avoid traffic, with great plans to eat our Quizno sandwiches in our seats. Well, to our surprise, no food or drinks are allowed inside. We ended up wolfing down our sandwiches on the sidewalk and tossing our homemade popcorn. Entering the coliseum made me gasp as I could see the enormous 9 story backdrop, a towering structure of steel and lights with center screen. Our field seats were on the 50 yard line and it was not hard to imagine the thrill of being a quarterback surrounded by a stadium full of cheering fans. Slowly the stadium seats filled, but it was not until the opening band, Van Morrison, finished their act that saw 40,000 in their seats. I have never seen so many gray haired, ponytailed, and bearded old men. Tie Dyed t-shirts and leather Stones jackets seemed to be the uniform of the day. Behind us, a neatly dressed, professional looking 50's something couple was hunched over, rolling joints, and giggling, passed them among themselves. Aren't you a bit too old to be doing this? Are you trying to relive your adolescence, I wondered.

Suddenly, the bright stadium lights were extinguished and 9 stories of colored lights lit the stage revealing the Rolling Stones in their full glory. The huge center screen magnified the lengendary band and song after song, they played to a wildly dancing and singing crowd. Midway through the show, the center of the stage, with the entire drum set and band, rose up and smoothly rolled down the catwalk toward the bleacher section, providing fans with a rare close up view. The screen opened up to reveal an enormous inflatable mouth and tongue. On stage fans, standing on the second and third levels of the stage structure were part of the scene as flames , then fireworks, and lastly long streamers flew out the top.

The audience was captivated from beginning to end. Such energy, such excitement!

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