Walking into a festival for the first time always offers a unique experience that can sometimes overload the senses. There’s a plethora of food and beverage options, usually a slew of vendors and art installations, coupled with an inane amount of people shuffling between multiple stages. However, the initial visit to the familiar Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, the site of the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, had an altogether different feeling on Friday as the door to Desert Trip opened.
Dubbed “Oldchella” from the moment the festival was rumored to be taking place, Jagger was quick to joke with the crowd, “welcome to the Palm Springs Retirement Home for Genteel Musicians” before launching into the revved-up “You Got Me Rocking.”
The reimagined grounds were configured for a single, massive stage, flanked on either side by large grandstands that appeared to be permanent structures on first glance. Behind many rows of perfectly aligned seats were a section of lawn chairs and blankets, while further back there was still another contingent of fans in a standing-room only space that appeared to stretch as far as the eyes could see. A set of massive digital displays just beyond the grandstands gave the general admission crowd something to watch as columns of speakers, seemingly everywhere, provided sound that was evenly projected to ensure the roughly 70,000 in attendance remained content.
And that they were thanks to a highly anticipated headline appearance by The Rolling Stones, who outside of sole warm up gig in Las Vegas, haven’t performed since March’s free concert in Cuba. Even so, Mick Jagger was as rambunctious as ever, prancing the full width of the massive stage, while also making use of the long thrust that extended from the center. That energy also extended to guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood (though beat keeper Charlie Watts always kept his cool) as they ripped through hits, beginning with the obvious but appropriate “Start Me Up.”
Dubbed “Oldchella” from the moment the festival was rumored to be taking place, Jagger was quick to joke with the crowd, “welcome to the Palm Springs Retirement Home for Genteel Musicians” before launching into the revved-up “You Got Me Rocking.” Otherwise, the Stones were all business with a set that hovered around two hours and also included a preview of the group’s forthcoming covers album, “Blues & Lonesome,” via the standard “Ride ‘Em On Down.”
Around the half way point, Jagger took a breather and allowed Richards to take the lead throughout “Slipping Away” and “Little T&A,” both of which benefited from a full dose of his glorious swagger. Other examples of the band’s immense range came with the country-tinged “Wild Horses,” the bluesy “Midnight Rambler” and a rocking trio of “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Brown Sugar” and the pre-encore finale “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Even so, the set came up somewhat short on surprises and also missed the opportunity of having Saturday’s headliner, Sir Paul McCartney, step down from his view in a VIP box to help make some additional history. The Stones nonetheless gave a nod to Macca and The Beatles with its inaugural live edition of “Come Together,” and regardless if the graying generation (and some younger onlookers) primarily grew up listening to the Fab Four or the Bad Boys, any previous rivalry was instantly replaced by an aura of all out “Satisfaction.”
Click here for more photos of The Rolling Stones from Desert Trip.
For additional information on The Rolling Stones, visit RollingStones.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Desert Trip include The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Oct. 14); Paul McCartney and Neil Young + Promise Of The Real (Oct. 15) and Roger Waters and The Who (Oct. 16). For additional details, visit DesertTrip.com.