The River

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rolling Stones play Missoula

Tucked in a corner of Western Montana, Missoula is an anomaly -- a progressive university town in the middle of a deep red state. It's probably the last place you'd expect to find a sort of hippies' last stand, but the following from Wikipedia clues us in to just how out there (in a very good way) Missoula is: "in the 2000 presidential election, it had one of the highest percentages of votes in the country for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. NORML's state office is in Missoula and it holds a yearly Hemp Festival." And the tradition continues on into the present day, as an organic gardener, Jon Tester, attempts to oust Republican toady Conrad Burns.

Still, I was shocked when I heard that the Rolling Stones had recently played there. The biggest name that came through when I lived there in the early 90s was Warren Zevon. That was one of my later evenings on the town during my three-year tenure. I was there with the woman who eventually became my wife. She got a masters in creative writing. I got a masters in camping, microbrews, and low-ambition living, plus my first pair of Birkenstocks.

Some of the friends we made are still there, including Penny and Mike. We get their holiday newsletter every year and feel foolish all over again for leaving paradise. Recently, Penny e-mailed her...

Top 10 reasons why listening to the Rolling Stones' Missoula concert was better from my deck than from anywhere in Washington Grizzly Stadium:

10. Traffic? What traffic?
9. Shirts and shoes not required.
8. No 50'x49' screens to distract you from the tiny figures on the stage.
7. Can't see Mick Jagger's wrinkles.
6. The whole back yard is your private dance floor.
5. No silly prohibitions against alcohol.
4. Spotlights make a groovy light show on the clouds.
3. Neighborhood dogs sing better than 20,000 Missoulians.
2. No lines for the ladies' restroom.
1. Parking: $0, Tickets: $0, Hearing the Rolling Stones live while sitting in your hot tub: Priceless

Only in Missoula.


Mick and Keef at Washington Grizzly Stadium, Missoula, MT

From The Missoulian article on the concert:

All were performed with perfect technical precision and, besides Jagger's unwillingness to carry some of the higher vocal parts, without any signs of declining skills. Ron Wood's slide guitar has never sounded better, even when chomping on a banana and smoking at the same time.

If there's a weakness to the evening, it's that everything seemed so well-rehearsed, so choreographed and laid out in sequence, that there was an element of soul missing. Every Jagger move was carefully chosen for full effect, even when he stuffed a microphone down his pants. The fact that the show was performed under what looked like a spaceship sponsored by RadioShack didn't help in that regard.

One of the authentic moments - you might even call it tender - was Keith Richards' personal hello to Missoula. While Jagger thanked the people for coming from as far away as Great Falls and “Spo-CAIN,” Richards' greeting seemed genuinely warm, even a little sad.

“This is new territory for me, and I've been around a lot,” said a man showing his age to a crowd that knew he was talking from the heart. “You've got beautiful country here. I'm thinking about moving in.”

Don't take my word for it about Missoula -- Keith Richards could _live_ there. Now that's coolness.

Bonus points to the first reader who spots the humorous grammatical mistake in the article excerpt.

Can Ron wood's guitar truly chomp on a banana and smoke atthe same time? Remarkable.
these guys are magicians, I tell ya.

Your bonus points are in the mail.
about the red state reference: how red can a state that contains Missoula be? This whole red state/blue state thing is just more divide-and-rule hogwash. We're purple, bloodied but unbowed. Well, some of us.
Can I just have the bonus points...
I'm tired, most likely hung over.
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