BROOKLYN, N.Y. — About a third of the way through the highly entertaining Rolling Stones show at the new Barclays Center Saturday night, Mick Jagger waxed nostalgic about an earlier band trip to New York in 1964.
“A carton of milk was 25 cents, a hamburger was 50 cents, a ticket to see the Rolling Stones was,” and then he stopped himself and said, “I’m not going to go there.”
It’s safe to say that inflation — among other factors — has most dramatically affected the cost of a Stones ticket. But in the first US show of its “50 & Counting” jaunt, and first stateside gig in six years, the band proved that time, miraculously, remains on its side, giving a mostly crisp and energetic 2-hour-and-20-minute performance on a stage that resembled the Stones logo: a huge set of red lips with a ramp serving as the tongue, licking out into and around part of the audience.
Led by a tireless and cheerful Jagger, rocking his signature arms-thrust-forward-chest-sinks-in-side-to-side-butt-shimmy, the core band (drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood) and its longstanding coterie of support (bassist Darryl Jones, singers Bernard Fowler and Lisa Fischer, keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and horn players Bobby Keys and Tim Ries) worked themselves and the sold-out, all-ages audience into a jubilant state with a hit-laden set list. Drawing mainly from 1965-1978, the night paid off like a slot machine jukebox with “Brown Sugar,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Miss You,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Wild Horses” and more.
The ’80s poked in with “Start Me Up.” And the two new tunes from the recent “GRRR!” compilation — “One More Shot” and a galvanizing “Doom and Gloom” — represented for the modern day with a throwback sound.
The band also played host to three guests: Mary J. Blige came out to testify on “Gimme Shelter,” the choir of Trinity Wall Street lent grandiose vocal ballast to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and buzzed-about blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. erupted all over “Going Down.” Clark in particular brought out the best in Wood and Richards as they traded dirty hot solos in one of the night’s peaks. Another was an epic, feverish “Midnight Rambler” with Wood conjuring fire.
A gingerly-moving but solid-sounding Richards performed his customary two-song amble “Before They Make Me Run” and “Happy.”