Sunday, February 15, 2015

Not the Last Time: More Stones (and Dead?) Shows to Come

A few weeks ago, we brought you news, before it was public, that the Grateful Dead would reunite in 2015, and that the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary tour might roll on in America this year as well. Since that time, we've seen the announcement of and huge initial demand for those Dead shows. Now, it's time to focus on the Stones.

When we last previewed the Stones' visit to America in 2015, we advised that the band had been in talks with the Rock in Rio USA festival in Las Vegas. As we cautioned then, we had not been able to confirm reports that the band had signed on to play the festival. It's our understanding now that the plan to play a few U.S. shows in May before returning to Europe in June has been scrapped. 

55 and Counting?
This time, we bring news that with a rising economy in the States, the Stones will return to North America instead in the Summer of 2015 for a full-scale arena [edit: make that stadium] tour. The bulk of the tour will take place in July, with rehearsals taking place in June, and it will hit mostly markets not visited on the Stones' last American swing. The tour is still in the planning stages, but we think the likeliest stops will include the following: 

[arena list clipped]

While high-dollar arena [stadium] shows will be the focus of the tour, we don't rule out an appearance at a big event or two. A tour gearing up or rehearsing in mid-June would be getting ready right around the time of the previously-discussed Live Earth concert at MetLife (formerly New Giants) Stadium in New Jersey (not to mention the Firefly Festival in Delaware, whose lineup announcement has been suspiciously delayed, though we still believe Paul McCartney will headline that festival and have a hard time seeing the Stones joining him). The tour may also wrap up right around the time of San Francisco's Outside Lands festival in early August. A Stones show in Golden Gate Park would be more than 45 years in the making, as the park was the location originally planned for what ultimately became the tragic Altamont Speedway concert of 1969. 

The Grateful Dead: Fare Thee Well or Not Fade Away?
Speaking of Golden Gate Park, we have a few more notes on the Grateful Dead's 50th anniversary. The band's mail-order ticketing service has faced overwhelming demand for its "Fare Thee Well" concerts in Chicago, suggesting that those stadium shows may well sell out when tickets go on sale online on February 28th. If so, we expect the announcement of live webcast events in clubs from coast to coast, including promoter Peter Shapiro's Brooklyn Bowl venues in New York and Las Vegas. What's more, we anticipate unmet demand potentially justifying the announcement of additional, smaller-scale concerts featuring the Dead's original members and other like-minded guest artists. Whether those shows feature all four of the surviving Grateful or happen before or after the Soldier Field shows, we can't say, but we still expect more notable Dead-related events on both coasts this year. 

Several festivals this Summer may flirt with further Dead reunions, including West Virginia's All Good Festival and Connecticut's Gathering of the Vibes. One of the stronger candidates for that to happen is the Poconos' Peach Music Festival, associated with the now-retired Allman Brothers Band, which will separately feature both Dead guitarist Bob Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann, plus fill-in keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and recent Allman Brother and frequent Jerry Garcia stand-in Warren Haynes. The likeliest place for all four to appear together, however, is Shapiro's Lockn Festival. Of the living Dead, only bass player Lesh and unspecified "friends" have been announced thus far, but we would not be surprised if more Dead members join the bill at a later date, and if a multi-member jam ensues, pre-announced or not. 

Finally, we still anticipate additional anniversary shows on both coasts in the Fall, though how big they are and whether they ultimately feature all four members remains to be seen. Chicago may well see the final "Grateful Dead" shows, and certainly the only ones with Trey Anastasio on guitar, and in a stadium, but we wouldn't be shocked if the band plays one more saturday night or two later in 2015.

The Stones' Last Time Too?
Speaking of last concerts, could this be The Last Time in the States for the Stones too? We don't expect it to be billed that way, and wouldn't be surprised if the band makes a festival appearance in Spring 2016 before wrapping up their current world tour in Europe that Summer. Still, with guys this age, you never know. 

What may be the Stones' final North American tour is certainly a big deal. However, we may be more excited about a much smaller one - the return of Keith Richards' X-Pensive Winos. The great riff writer's side project has an album of new material set for release whenever the Stones eventually get some down time, perhaps late this year or early next. Keef may preview some of that material tonight when he appears on Saturday Night Live's 40th Anniversary special, which, like the Live Earth show, will also feature a living Beatle. Stay tuned, music fans!

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