Barry Saunders

It’s only rock ’n’ roll, but Stones fans will pay – and pay – for it

If you can’t get no satisfaction – heck, if you can’t even get no ticket to hear the Rolling Stones sing “Satisfaction” Wednesday night at Carter-Finley Stadium – fret not. Chances are they’ll be back in a decade or so.

That’s how long ago it’s been since the Stones last performed in the Triangle.

It’s been more than three decades since they were at the Fox Theater in Atlanta in what we thought then was their farewell tour.

It may not have officially been billed as a farewell tour – although there have been ones billed as such – but it’s easy to see how we got that impression in 1981. Disco was in its ascendancy and was going to last forever (boogie oogie oogie) and you had a quartet of aging rockers with a lead singer who had proclaimed “I’d rather be dead than singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.”

Honky tonk women

I was an obit writer extraordinaire at the Atlanta Constitution newspaper in 1981, yet city officials with juice were calling me asking for tickets to the biggest Atlanta theater event since “Gone With The Wind” premiered there in 1939.

Did the city honchos think, perhaps, that since Jagger made that comment about being dead that an obit writer would have special access?

Whatever the reason for my welcome but fleeting popularity, I was unable to dig up any tickets even for myself. The government officials and the landed gentry who’d probably scorned the group a decade earlier got ’em all because they wanted to be able to boast of seeing the rockers before they quit rocking to take up the rocking chair.

Standing outside the Fox the night of the concert, watching the well-heeled swells pull up, I remember thinking “Where all the honky tonk women at?” In their place were sophisticated ladies in limos, diamonds and minks.

The Stones’ promoters no longer need to goose ticket sales by intimating that each tour could be the last one. The tacit understanding is that the Stones’ll be singing “Brown Sugar” until Mick can’t strut and Keith can’t pluck.

Or until they succeed in making all the money in the world.

If there’s one thing the Stones can do better than rock, it’s make moolah.

Bootleg T-shirts

When they last performed here at Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke University in 2005, I wrote about the Durham police crackdown on people selling bootleg T-shirts outside the stadium.

“If each T-shirt sold by a bootlegger was taking money out of the mouths of Keith, Mick, Ronnie and Charlie,” I wrote then, “perhaps you could work up sympathy for the devils. ... Don’t we have enough real crime that impacts our quality of life without cops wasting time making sure megarich rock stars’ T-shirts don’t get ripped off?”

That tour reportedly grossed $600 million, and The Telegraph of London newspaper reported that the group practices in Canada to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Those dudes, therefore, were going to eat well even if they didn’t receive a cut from that unlicensed T-shirt peddler from New Bedford, Ohio, who was – along with several others – arrested for fleecing suckers willing to pay $20 for a $3 Fruit of the Loom with Mick Jagger’s lips stamped on them.

Just as I passed up chances to see James Brown and Ray Charles perform in their dotage – who wants their memories bespoiled by a perfunctory or subpar septuagenarian performance? – I’ll pass up this one, too. Not because I doubt that the Stones can deliver; some fans say they jam better than ever – but because I wasn’t willing to part with $500 for two tickets so far from the stage that not even Mick’s lips were visible.

No worries, though. While the cops are arresting people outside for selling T-shirts, half the people inside will be recording the concert with their iPhones and posting it online so that we’ll all be able to see the performance before the Stones board their private jet.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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