November 01, 1988

Medium Cool

Filed under: Archive,Music

Mick Jagger

Thebarton Oval

With the Stones on the brink of their silver jubilee it would be hardly surprising if some of the faithful at the Mick Jagger concert at Thebarton Ovalwere grandparents. It was rock of ages for all ages as Jagger and the showband served up a concert -of vintage, even antique, Stones, and late Mick from his recent-ish Primitive Cool album.

Heralded by a thunderous bassdrum roll, ‘the band came on stage looking like bikies, bandits, Las Vegas musos and ads from Country Life. It’s like the Village_People- there’s one of everything. Even one of the Stones. Mick hits it with “Honky Tonk Woman” and, fifteen years on, he looks slim and expensive in his lemon silk jacket and Isadora scarf. As the band play tight and loud Jagger works the huge stage which extends right around into the crowd so he can get closer to the congregation. His routine hardly needs description – Jagger owns the patent.

He is as good as ever but you keep wondering whether the guitarist in the dark glasses might not be a rejuvenated Keith Richards. No, not that rejuvenated.

Jagger moves to the new stuff – “Throwaway”- a pretty good description really. The crowd don’t know that one and pause a bit. Then “One More Night” and, even better, “Ruby Tuesday”, hit them between the buttons. The Stones’ “Harlem Shuffle” and “Lucky in Love” from “She’s the Boss”, get the band into gear with lead guitarist, Joe Fatriani enticing a funky, grainy sound relentlessly counterpointed by Suzie Davis and Phil Ashley on keyboards, Doug Whimbish’s fat bass and Simon Phillips’ indefatigable power drumming. Charlie Watts would collapse a lung if he played like that.

In the title song, Primitive Cool, Jagger gets a little serious for a moment – “What did you do in the Fifties, Daddy?” It doesn’t suit him – great riffs from the band but the lyrics remind you of “Abraham, Martin and John”. A medium big chill runs through the crowd with “You Can’t Always get What You Want”. The band is hot, so is Jagger. But it is like community singing, the crowd swaying to the sanitized gospel of pragmatic hedonism.

“We’re gonna play some blues fo’ ya,” Mick bellows in his South London/ Alabama dialect and then proceeds to grind through “Little Red Rooster”. When he played the harp as well I was ready to donate money. “One Hit to the Body” followed, then the Hendrix classic “Foxy Lady”. Jagger sang it well in tribute.

The recent “Party Doll” featured Mick on acoustic guitar but was without the aid of the Chieftains’ pipes. Someone pressed the bagpipe button on the Fairlight instead. With an excursion into Aussie balladry, “The Wild Colonial Boy”, Jagger conjured up his execrable Ned Kelly. But it was a nice touch and it showed he didn’t think he was in Kansas City.

After departures, costume changes (more silk, a touch of leather and some Nuigini hand-prints) Mick and the band reconvened for some slick versions of “Get Off My Cloud”, “Bitch”, a spacey rendition of “Gimme Shelter” (the best of the night), “Brown Sugar” and “Start Me Up”. From there it was only “Rock and Roll (And I like it)” and Aerobic “Jack Flash”. This is classy Eighties pop and Jagger put his back into it. Then he sang “Satisfaction” like an artefact. Again, it was faultless in execution but it lacked … well, passion. It was as though we were communing at some rite of perpetual youth and Mick Jagger has not so much been reborn as Reeboksed. I still kept looking out for Keith and Charlie.

“Medium Cool” The Adelaide Review, November, 1988. p.26.

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