Rockin' in the Rain

By Brian White

The best part of seeing the Rolling Stones at Churchill Downs for their "Bigger Bang" tour was having one more opportunity to see and hear one of the great rock 'n' roll bands of all time. Fans of all ages gathered at the race track on a rainy September night to witness a good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll show. The Stones have had basically the same line-up they've had since 1976, when Ronnie Wood replaced Mick Taylor following the release of Goats Head Soup. They played every chord and every note with the attitude and bravado of their youth. In a nutshell - they rocked!

Say what you will about their age, Mick 63, Keith, 62 (with a birthday in December), Charlie, 65, Ronnie the youngest at 59, still deliver the goods - ol' fashion Rock n' Roll. These guys are seasoned veterans and know how to rock 'n' roll and I like it.

Their set list included a ton of classics. They opened up with "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" and that Louisville favorite, "Dead Flowers," with it reference to Louisville's most famous civic holiday. They played on an impressive stage that was, reportedly, 92 feet high and weighing in at 300 tons. It looked like a miniature version of Times Square, with the lights and huge video monitors everywhere. Even the cheap seats (at $60 bucks a ticket) had a good view of what was happening on stage.

Fans packed the audience and braved the rain with ponchos and plastic bags for cover. The youngest I saw was around 10 years old, the oldest, well, let's just say I saw a lot of walkers and canes. The mood in the air was electric as people openly admitted enjoying the opportunity to witness history in the making; both the first time a rock band has played the Downs and the band itself.

Alice Cooper opened up the concert and delivered a solid performance. His band sounded good as they rolled through Alice's greatest hits catalog. He can definitely still put on a great performance - top hat, cane, make-up, snake and all.

Despite the rain, overall it was a great night of music. Just before the show, I bumped into my friend Dan who had the good fortune to go back stage and meet the band. His comment was "Man they're really small - I mean - short and skinny, like munchkins." Well, when they rocked the Downs that wet September night, they appeared larger than life. Regardless of physical stature, as a band, those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I know, I know, it's only rock 'n' roll. . .