No Stone Age for the Mighty Rolling Stones

ROLLING STONES - Voodoo Lounge Tour. At Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

FANS obsess about the durability and the age of the Rolling Stones as if they were something more than just a rock-and-roll band. But that is exactly what they are, nothing more and certainly nothing less. This was emphasized in the opening number of their ``Voodoo Lounge'' show, which stopped by Giants Stadium recently as one of the first legs on their two-year world tour.

That number, ``Not Fade Away,'' has a timeless Bo Diddley beat, and the band delivered a riveting version of it. The opening was good enough for a person to wish they would do an album of rock-and-roll cover tunes rather than original material, which is painfully thin on their newest album. The band sounds better than ever, and their grooves are sharp, but the new songs are little more than expertly delivered riffs. Even in concert the songs failed to take on life.

The show, which is still evolving, was a canny mixture of old hits, semi-obscurities, and new material. No doubt everyone will find some favorites missing, because if the Stones played every one of their hits the show would last for days. But the biggies are there: ``Jumpin' Jack Flash,'' ``Shattered,'' ``Honky Tonk Woman,'' ``Satisfaction,'' ``It's Only Rock Roll,'' and ``Brown Sugar.''

Since most of the band members' ages hover around the half-century mark, the question on everyone's mind is, ``Can they still do it?'' Well, they can. Although if you look closely you will see the difference between the Mick Jagger of 20 years ago and the Mick Jagger of today, he still prances with elfin grace, struts like a rooster, and covers more mileage on the 300-foot stage than most runners in a marathon. Keith Richards seems happier than ever onstage, wandering all over and playing his guitar with a beatific smile.

CHARLIE WATTS seems to grow more elegant each year, but his drum playing has lost none of its ferocity. Ron Wood is no longer the junior member of the band, now that Darryl Jones has replaced Bill Wyman on bass. Jones barely moves onstage, and he is generally an inconspicuous presence, but in his playing he more than manages to keep up.

The show has its peaks and valleys, and the audience grew visibly restless with the new material, with the strong exceptions of the slinky ``Love is Strong'' and the furious ``Sparks Will Fly,'' which is accompanied by a dazzling light show. Keith Richards handles the vocals on a pair of songs, and although the crowd was generously indulgent, the numbers were further proof that this man should get nowhere near a microphone.

Naturally, no expense has been spared in the physical production, with superb, ear-splitting sound and a giant futuristic- looking set that is supposed to represent the ``information highway.'' With the exception of Pink Floyd's, it is the most lavish seen this summer.

On the Stones' earlier ``Steel Wheels'' tour there was a giant, inflatable ``Honky Tonk Woman,'' and this show ups the ante, with a half-dozen figures onstage that could immediately be recruited for the Macy's parade, including a giant Elvis. After the encore, there is an elaborate fireworks display that signals to the demanding crowd that the show is over and it is time to leave.

* The Stones tour includes: Boston (Sept. 4); Raleigh, N.C. (Sept. 7); East Lansing, Mich. (Sept. 9); Chicago (Sept. 11 and 12); Denver (Sept. 15), Columbia, Mo. (Sept. 18); Philadelphia (Sept. 22 and 23); Columbia, S.C. (Sept. 25); Memphis (Sept. 27); Pittsburgh (Sept. 29); Pasedena, Calif. (Oct. 19).

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