On Sunday (26 September) night, the band began their first tour without their drummer of nearly six decades, who died last month aged 80.
During the show in St Louis, the show opened with an empty stage and solitary drumbeat, with photos of Watts flashing on the video board.
After the second song — a rousing rendition of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)” — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood came to the front of the stage.
Jagger and Richards clasped hands as they thanked fans for the outpouring of support and love for Watts. The band’s frontman acknowledged it was emotional seeing the photos of Watts.
“This is our first-ever tour we’ve ever done without him,” Jagger said. “We’ll miss Charlie so much, on and off the stage.”The band then dedicated “Tumbling Dice” to Watts.
Except for a private show in Massachusetts last week, the St Louis concert was their first since Watts’s death.
The tour was scheduled for 2020 before the coronavirus virtually shut down the touring industry.
However, signs of the pandemic were everywhere at the show in Missouri, a state hit hard by the virus’s delta variant.
Fans wore masks as required by St Louis’s anti-virus protocol. The Stones themselves appeared in a public service announcement urging anyone with symptoms to stay home.
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A vaccination site was also set up at the venue, with plans for similar sites at each tour stop.
The concert itself featured the same driving beat personified by Watts, thanks to his replacement, Steve Jordan. The drummer may be new to fans but he’s hardly new to the Stones — Jordan has performed for years with Richards’ side project, X-Pensive Winos, along with many other leading acts.
Still, die-hard fans couldn’t help but miss Watts, widely considered one of rock’s greatest drummers. He joined Jagger and Richards in the Rolling Stones in 1963.
Additional reporting by news agencies
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