Rolling Stones’ Postponed Opening Night: What Could We Have Seen?
The Rolling Stones were due to kick off the latest leg of their No Filter tour tonight. But with the coronavirus pandemic postponing it indefinitely, we can only guess what the band had in store for opening night.
The 15-date trek was scheduled to hit stadiums in 14 U.S. cities before wrapping up on July 9 in Atlanta; a Vancouver, B.C., date was the lone Canadian show on the schedule. The Stones have been using the No Filter title for tours since 2017, though they didn't arrive in the U.S. until last summer. Even then, Mick Jagger's heart surgery caused the tour's start to be delayed by a few months.
As for the music, there's little reason to think the new leg won't follow the same pattern as the previous 45 dates. According to statistics compiled at setlist.fm, an average No Filter show consists of 20 songs, with one of three songs - "Street Fighting Man," "Sympathy for the Devil" or "Jumpin' Jack Flash" - serving as the opener on all but two nights. "Brown Sugar" closed out the main set two-thirds of the time. Twelve songs, eight of which stem from the period between 1968 and 1972, were brought out at every single show; five others were performed at more than half the dates.
Keith Richards' nightly two-song spotlight show a bit of variance, ranging from longtime favorites "Happy," "Before They Make Me Run" and "You Got the Silver" to the more obscure cuts "Slipping Away" and "The Worst." A two-song acoustic set, played from a second stage set up at roughly midfield, also gives the band an opportunity to open things up a bit. It's here they dusted off album tracks like "Dead Flowers" and "Sweet Virginia" with the singles "Angie" and "Play With Fire." They've also been conducting online polls to determine a vacant slot in the first part of the main set; that has unearthed everything from "Get Off of My Cloud" to "Shine a Light" to "Sad Sad Sad."
Although the Stones recently put out a new original song, "Living in a Ghost Town," it's unlikely that they would have performed it on this new leg, since the track was finished only after the pandemic postponed the tour (Jagger even tweaked some lyrics to reflect the times). But it's possible they would have delivered one of the covers found on 2016's Blue & Lonesome; "Ride 'Em on Down" or "Just Your Fool" were played most nights earlier in the tour.
"Living in a Ghost Town" marks the band's first new original song since 2012, when a pair of tunes arrived on he GRRR compilation. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Ron Wood suggested the Stones would finally deliver their first full-length album of new songs since 2005's A Bigger Bang. “The new album is like a puzzle," he said. "We still have to put the missing pieces together. We hope to release it in 2020 and then continue our world tour.”
Instead of finishing the new work, the Stones have recently assisted in fighting COVID-19. They performed "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from their houses as part of the One World: Together at Home benefit, and Jagger took part in the iForIndia online concert, which also featured Bryan Adams.
Even though the tour calendars for the past two years have been met with challenges, Richards insisted the Stones have no plans to retire. “We’re feeling good," he told the Toronto Sun. "And we love what we do. There’s no reason to stop really. I love it. I’m really looking forward to it.”