Lady Gaga stuns as she joins the Rolling Stones for a unique New York celebration of their new record ‘Hackney Diamonds.
The Rolling Stones’ unique New York celebration of their new record, “Hackney Diamonds,” became known gradually.
It began as a “Rolling Stones event on the evening of Oct. 19,” then evolved into an album-release party, and finally rumors circulated that they would perform “a couple of songs, but with the boys, you never know” (yes, the source quoted actually referred to them as “the boys”).
Then word got out that they’d be performing for 500 people in 25 minutes at Racket, a Chelsea club once known as the High Line (that sound you’re hearing is New York music lovers over the age of 30 exclaiming, “Oooooh, yeah, I remember that place”). And, an hour before the scheduled start time of 8 p.m., the numerous sound trucks, barriers, and security personnel lined West 16th and 17th streets revealed that something significant was taking place at this “party”
After opening with “Shattered,” their 1978 New York City anthem, the Stones played six songs from the new album, interspersed with a chugging version of “Tumblin’ Dice” and ended the main set with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” before returning for the encore with guest Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga Shows
Lady Gaga joined the group for “Sweet Sound of Heaven,” the penultimate track on the new album, which finds her doing a soaring contrast to Jagger’s lead vocal. She was dressed in tall platform shoes and a shimmering, half-maroon/half-black bellbottomed jumpsuit. It borders on overkill on the album, but it’s a different story when she and Jagger duet, beaming and cheering each other on.
Daniel Craig, Mary Kate Olsen, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Taylor Hill, Rachel Weisz, Christie Brinkley, Ed Burns, Keegan-Michael Key, Minka Kelly, Christy Turlington, “Hackney Diamonds” producer Andrew Watt, and others were among those in attendance, with Elvis Costello and Diana Krall occupying the closest viewing position in the balcony. Before and after the performance, Questlove DJ’ed.
This show, as Jagger mentioned throughout the set, was the latest in a long line of splashy New York announcements, including the band playing on a flatbed truck moving down Fifth Avenue (announcing their 1975 tour) and driving across the Brooklyn Bridge (ditto in 2004). This night was nominally to promote the album, which was released around 90 minutes after the band left the stage – but it was also, judging by the fact that they were playing full stream right in front of us, quite potentially the start of another tour.
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If that’s the case, the future looks bright. The group’s remarkably vibrant new record would add a fresh dimension to their regular setlist, and they were well-rehearsed if not yet tour-ready. Even at 80, Jagger defies biology, remaining remarkably lithe and supple despite severe creases on his forehead and neck.
His routines were stadium-sized but downsized for the smaller arena, making his characteristic undulating-X dancing and humorously overexaggerated stretchy gestures even more impressive up close. He came the stage wearing tight black leggings and a brown leather jacket that appeared brand new out of the bag, as well as a patterned black and white shirt that he removed two songs later, revealing a long sleeved skin-tight T-shirt.
Keith Richards appears to be much older than Mick Jagger (as would anyone), and his hands have become gnarled due to aging and arthritis. But he’s gotten around it by playing a version of his distinctive rhythm guitar in which the riffs are virtually implied – you can feel them even when he’s not playing them, chugging on every other note or adding melodic fills.
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Ron Wood, the 76-year-old, does the heavy lifting on guitar, keeping a close eye on the others, the manager tying it all together musically and also the major lead guitarist. All three wore black orthopedically safe sneakers.
Steve Jordan is a powerful drummer who pays homage to the late Charlie Watts, even gripping the sticks in the same manner at times, but with an energy that is more R&B than jazz; bassist Daryl Jones, a Stones veteran of some 30 years, is similarly appreciative but adds a funk twang and jazz flair. Meanwhile, supporting vocalist Sasha Allen and keyboardist Matt Clifford bolster the vocals, frequently delivering a low-key guide voice that complements and strengthens Jagger’s lead.
“Hackney Diamonds” concludes with a cover of the traditional “Rolling Stone Blues,” where the band got its start 61 years ago. While it could indicate that this is the group’s final record, Thursday night’s performance implies that something new is on the way.