The Rolling Stones opened their North American 50 and Counting tour in Los Angeles on Friday in a packed house, but only after websites slashed ticket prices and the band released additional cheap seats at the last minute.
The 17-date tour is the Rolling Stones’ biggest in six years and follows a handful of dates in London, Paris and New York at the end of 2012 marking 50 years since they burst on to the music scene at London’s Marquee Club in 1962.
Only one week ago the band said it was slashing the ticket price of thousands of premium seats to avoid playing to half empty arenas.
“Total disaster, too expensive and no vibe,” a source told The Observer, adding the band could see their $20 million tour fee revised.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are each 69 years old, and Charlie Watts is 71, but they transformed into their younger selves for the night.
Sir Mick Jagger might not hit all the notes he once did, but he still busted out his almost spastic, serpentine dance moves on song after song. He’s impossibly thin, and his spine showed through the light shirt he wore.
Staples Center was packed to capacity for the concert, the first of 17 dates the Stones are set to play throughout the US.
The stage was modeled after the band’s iconic logo, with lips and teeth above the stage and a tongue-shaped platform that extended into the crowd.
A video of famous folks sharing their favorite Rolling Stones memories played before the band took the stage, with Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese, Perry Farrell and others, reminiscing about their favorite tunes.
Actress Cate Blanchett recalled “just how skinny they were”.
“It really, really pisses me off,” she said.
Other videos showed the aging rockers as young men.
Jack Nicholson was among the stars in the audience, and fans welcomed him with a round of applause as he took his seat.
“It was either us or the Lakers, so now you got us,” Mick Jagger said early in the show, referring to the basketball playoffs that forced the band to postpone its opening concert from Thursday to Friday.
“It doesn’t matter to Jack Nicholson because he was coming to both of them,” Mick Jagger continued.
Jack Nicholson wasn’t the only star in the house. Gwen Stefani, wearing long blond hair and a bedazzled Rolling Stones tank top, joined the group onstage to sing Wild Horses.
“I’ve got to get one of these T-shirts,” Mick Jagger said, admiring her top.
Keith Urban played guitar and sang backup on Respectable.
Former Stones member Mick Taylor added guitar to Midnight Rambler.
Keith Richards sang a pair of tunes: Happy and Before They Make Me Run. Mick Jagger also played guitar and harmonica, and came out in a floor-length marabou cape to perform Sympathy for the Devil.
“We first played in LA in 1965,” Mick Jagger said.
“Thank you for keeping on coming to see us.”
The Rolling Stones’ tour continues through June 21.