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Rolling Stones Concert Review 1981

Updated on January 4, 2014

What A Show !

Mick Jagger above everyone's head in a cherry picker ? Keith Richards looking like the picture of good health ? Fireworks after the concert on a 90 degree afternoon ? The first time I saw The Rolling Stones in concert was in Philadelphia on September 26th 1981. This was the second official concert in support of the recently released Tattoo You album.

We had gotten up quite early that Saturday morning and my friend and I drove to Cherry Hill, NJ, and got a hotel room, had breakfast and the proceeded over to JFK Stadium, along with the other 100,000 fans going to the show. We all wondered, "is this really the Stones last tour ?"

As is typical at a Stones show, there was loads of police, some on horseback, some walking around and it looked like some of the local Navy sailors were there for added security as well. It took about 15 minutes to get in and once inside the stadium we grabbed some seats as it was all general admission.

The opening act was George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, none of us had ever heard of him. Besides being the sound check, he basically blew us all away with his set. Just think about it, George Thorogood playing at 11 a.m. on a Saturday. Now there is a wake up call !!

Next came Journey. It must be tough to be the band that plays before the Stones, I think Journey found that out that day. Must say I did think the song Wheel In The Sky rocked that day when they played it early afternoon.

When the Stones opened with Under My Thumb, it was like everyone was wondering what they looked like. How’s Mick looking ? Is Keith on anything ? Whats Ronnie doing ? Where is Bill and Charlie ? The stage was massive but their sound was big enough to handle it, by 1981 standards the sound mix was clear all day. As best as I can remember other songs played that day included; Lets Spend The Night Together, Neighbors, Let Me Go, Beast Of Burden, and Time Is On My Side. Outstanding versions of Black Limousine, Honky Talk Woman, Start Me Up, and You Can’t Always Get What You Want were also played. And yes during Jumping Jack Flash, with Keith and Ronnie at the center of the stage-here comes Mick out over the crowd in a cherry picker. Wild stuff for 1981. By the time the played their last song Street Fighting Man, I wouldn’t say the crowd was drained, we were looking for more, but not necessarily that day. In the early 1980's rock and disco were still pushing to see who could gain more market share. This day the Stones proved-They were the market !


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      Giselle Maine 6 years ago

      I liked your description of the atmosphere and the pre-concert stuff, it was interesting to hear about that as well as the concert itself. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • mkott profile image

      Michele 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      I saw them the first time at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim California in 1978 one month shy of my 17th b-day. My Mom took me and this was to be the first of many concerts. Still have my ticket stub. Those were the days you could afford to go to a concert. Saw them in 81 at the LA Coliseum with about 120k. Awesome. Even ended up on the 11 o'clock news. I say if you haven't been to a Stones concert you are missing out.

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      Monkey Man 6 years ago

      Correction: I checked my ticket, it was $15.75 for general admission. Ah the good ol' days.

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      Monkey Man 6 years ago

      I was at the Saturday show after turning twelve just a few weeks earlier. Quite an experience to say the least. One that I'll never forget. Oh, the ticket price? $17.50 for general admission.

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      mark 6 years ago

      Saw the opening show in Philly 1981. I remember Ron Wood lost a ring off stage. Someone gave it back to him from the first couple of rows. Also a few chords into Let it Bleed, Ron stopped the tune and asked Keith "Is that a G or a C I'm supposed to be playing"??? Last really good Stones tour. :)

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Great hub. 81 I was six, but I have become a fan in thirty years since. Your experience was well told and you must have had a blast.

      Thanks for the good read.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      Too funny, I just posted a hub with a bumper sticker I got from a Stones show in '81 from San Fran. I've seen them 4 times and loved every one. Nice hub, thanks for your experience. Check out my music memories when you get time. Peace!!

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      Jeff 7 years ago

      Thanks, Philly '81 was my first Stones show also. Unforgettable, especially Mick yelling for Keith to help him out with the vocals!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I saw the Rolling Stones live back in the 1970's. It was a great concert with Santana as lead in band. It was in San Francisco and a great party. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dao Hoa profile image

      Dao Hoa 8 years ago

      It sounds like you have had a good time! Thanks for sharing your memory.