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Should aging rockers ever stop?

Posted by Joanna Weiss  June 20, 2013 03:42 PM

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Stones play Boston.jpg

So maybe getting old isn't a drag after all. Last week, the Rolling Stones swung through the TD Garden on their "Fifty and Counting" tour, kicking off a Boston summer filled with what might be called vintage rock. Sir Paul McCartney is playing Fenway Park next month. The Rascals, Zombies, and Monkees are coming to town. Steven Tyler, 65, is making noise about a solo album.

On the occasion of the Stones show, Globe columnist Scot Lehigh mused on aging rockers and the people who will spend $600 per ticket to see them. At a time when 70 is clearly the new 50, long careers are something to celebrate. But does age change expectations? Does a certain kind of performance -- say, Mick Jagger's feral prance -- feel different when a rocker qualifies for senior discounts? Or should rockers flaunt what they've got for as long as they can? Below are some thoughts on the Stones and other rockers with longevity. Add yours to the comments below, or tweet at the hashtag #stillrocking.

This could be the last time?

Lehigh mug.jpgA self-proclaimed goodbye tour is a time-tested audience-enhancer for flagging bands, but that doesn’t describe the Stones. They aren’t talking about calling it a day — not openly, at least. Their last real album, “A Bigger Bang,” was their best in years. Their recent performances have gotten deservedly strong reviews. But the-end-is-near fear hangs palpably over the band’s 50th anniversary expedition. It’s not that Mick and Keith, both 69, are old. Not by today’s standards.... Rather, it’s that they are pressing hard against our expectations for rock musicians. You can’t be skipping around the stage singing “Sympathy for the Devil” at 75, at 80...can you?
Scot Lehigh, Globe columnist
'Swan Song Angst,' June 19, 2013

In the Senate, they'd be in their prime

IMG_2212.JPGDianne Feinstein is 80 years old as of Saturday. But in the United States Senate, where she was just elected to another six-year-term, she’s more powerful than ever, and every bit as active. Indeed, senators are presumed to be on top of their game in their 70s, with John McCain (77 in August) leading the charge on immigration reform while crisscrossing the world on military issues. John Kerry, who just took over as Secretary of State, turns 70 in December – a week before Keith Richards, as it turns out. But Richards is the only one getting flak for continuing to work. Actually, rock stars who keep up a full touring schedule, replete with gyrating dance moves and soaring vocals, are doing everyone else a favor. They’re demonstrating that people who keep on working in their 70s aren’t in denial about their declining abilities; they’re fully engaged and just as inspired as when they were younger.
Peter Canellos, Editorial Page Editor
The Boston Globe


Be kind to your fans

IMG_2213.JPGYes, the Rolling Stones should quit touring -- if only as a humane gesture to their loyal fans. It's not that the band can't still put on a show: last week's concerts at the TD Garden proved that. But their relationship with concert-goers has become exploitative. Scot Lehigh wrote that he went to the Stones concert partly because the band members are now so old: seeing Mick and Keith strut around on stage made the fantasy of postponing the inevitable seem feasible. Lehigh probably wasn’t the only fan who felt that way. But that turns the twilight of the band's career into a sad spectacle -- a kind of Baby Boomer coping ritual, a group rage against the dying of the light. Surely, the Stones have harvested enough money from the Boomers already that they could stop cashing in on their angst.
Alan Wirzbicki
Globe editorial writer

Don't go for the 'morbidity factor'

geoff edgers mug.jpgLike any true hypocrite, I’ll go see the Rascals and Zombies this summer out of curiosity. But you won’t see me at the TD Garden this week throwing down $600 plus to shuffle to “One More Shot.” Been there, done that. [My friend] Marianne wrote: “I hate the idea of attending a show just for the morbidity factor: ‘This guy is so old /so ill we might not see him again.’ ” On this one, I’m with you.
Geoff Edgers, Globe arts writer
"Mick Jagger Then and Now," June 8, 2013

Ready for his close-up?

old mick.png

The Stones still have it

James Reed mug.jpgTo answer the questions you no doubt have: Yes, Mick sounded great, strutted like a feral alley cat, and he’s still skinnier than you and I will ever be. Yes, Keith Richards is the most unbelievable pirate guitarist who ever lived. Yes, Ronnie Wood looks like he’s having more fun than anyone else on stage. And yes, Charlie Watts remains the underrated statesman of the band, keeping the beat and regal in a polo shirt while his cohorts looked every inch the rock stars they are.
James Reed, Globe music critic
Concert review, June 13, 2013

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