Performing for an audience for the first time since drummer Charlie Watts died, the Rolling Stones played at a private party hosted by Patriots owner Robert Kraft at Gillette Stadium Monday.
The veteran rockers, who kick off a US tour Sunday in St. Louis, played some of their best-known songs for an invite-only crowd of about 300 people. The band’s 15-song set opened with “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and also included “Tumbling Dice,” “Under My Thumb,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Start Me Up,” “Miss You,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and two encores, “Street Fighting Man,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Watts died Aug. 24 at a London hospital, and his bandmates got emotional Monday talking about their missing partner and friend. Singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards said the evening’s performance, and the upcoming tour, are dedicated to Watts, who was recovering from an unspecified surgical procedure when he died unexpectedly. He was 80.
“It’s a bit of a poignant night for us because it’s the first tour in 59 years that we’ve done without our lovely Charlie Watts,” said Jagger. “We all miss Charlie so much. We miss him as a band. We miss him as friends, on and off the stage, and we’ve got so many memories of Charlie.” Jagger tweeted a clip of the tribute on Tuesday afternoon.
The guest list Monday included a few familiar faces and a handful of high-rollers. Governor Charlie Baker and his wife, Lauren, were there — and, we’re told, had to be reminded that videos were strictly prohibited — as was J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf, Moderna cofounder Noubar Afeyan, UFC boss Dana White, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and his wife, Cincoro Tequila CEO Emilia Fazzalari, Fanatics CEO and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute CEO Laurie Glimcher, Providence Capital’s Jonathan Nelson, Big Night Entertainment’s Ed Kane, Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, David Abrams of Abrams Capital, Fidelity’s Abby Johnson, Davio’s owner Steve DiFillippo, developers Jeremy Sclar and Joe Fallon, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan, Bain Capital’s Paul Edgerley, and former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett.
The party was held in a tent-like structure set up on the stadium field. Guests had to show proof of vaccination to enter, we’re told, and only a few attendees wore a mask inside.
The Rolling Stones have been in Boston since early August to rehearse for their tour, and, because of the pandemic and the need to quarantine, did not return to the UK after Watts died. The band kept a low profile while in town, drawing little notice even as they plugged in and played at Red Sky Studios, where, we’re told, they regularly rehearsed. (Steve Jordan, who played in Richards’s X-Pensive Winos band, is playing drums on this tour.)
This isn’t the first time Kraft has hosted a private party at Gillette Stadium and hired the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band to perform. He did it in 2016 as well.