The Rolling Stones came to Chicago and put on a thrilling show Thursday night, June 27. By the time it was over, and I had come down enough to sleep, I couldn't decide whether the show or hanging out with fellow Rolling Stones fans was the highlight of the evening.

Stones concerts aren't just concerts—they're events with a capital E. It's not quite the circus that comes to town when Taylor Swift rolls in for stadium shows; however, it's not your average concert either. At least it wasn't for me, who traveled to Chicago for the show and intentionally chose my hotel near Soldier Field.

Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media
Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media

My girlfriend Stacey and I arrived in Chicago Tuesday evening to spend Wednesday and Thursday doing some Chicago touristy things. Tuesday evening was quiet at our hotel, The Chicago Hilton on Michigan Avenue. By Wednesday evening, many were showing up for The Stones show on Thursday or Sunday night. It was easy to tell because many were already wearing their Rolling Stones gear.

I had been debating whether to wear a Stones T-shirt to the show or follow the asinine rule that some chucklehead came up with: You don't wear the T-shirt of the band whose concert you're seeing to the show.

For the Rolling Stones, wear the Stones' gear because everyone else does, and for those of us hanging around and staying at the Chicago Hilton, it created an opportunity to bond with fellow fans. It was sort of an unspoken bond that broke the ice. When it was all said in done we met folks from California, Australia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and even a couple of people from my hometown of Oak Lawn, Illinois.

The Rolling Stones took the stage between 9:15 and 9:30 Thursday night and ran through 20 songs. They opened with "Start Me Up" and then went into "Get Off of My Cloud" and "It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It)." The show was a mix of Greatest Hits, a few lesser-known hits, and some tracks from the group's latest album "Hackney Diamonds."

They did spread out most of the tunes from "Hackney Diamonds" through the first half of their set, with "Angry" being the fourth song, "Mess It Up" being the seventh, "Tell Me Straight" the tenth, and the final tune from their current record, "Sweet Sounds of Heaven," opening their encore.

I think "Hackney Diamonds" is an excellent record, so even though I wasn't as familiar with those songs as their hits, I enjoyed hearing them. As the group rolled through their first nine songs, they also included the fan-voted favorite, "She's A Rainbow," "Wild Horses," "Tumbling Dice," and "You Can't Always Get What You Want," so even the most casual of fans wouldn't get bored.

If there was one part of the show where I started to get impatient, it would be the three songs Keith Richards sang in the middle of the group's set. They did this to give Mick Jagger a little break and give Richards the limelight for a few songs, yet it didn't land for me.

Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media
Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media


Don't get me wrong, if I have a favorite member of The Stones, it's Keith, and I think his voice is fine on his solo stuff.  Yet, three in a row, starting with a tune from "Hackney Diamonds" called "Tell Me Straight," followed by "Little T&A" and "Happy," slowed everything down a bit. I have to wonder if those songs were spread out a bit, if I would even be mentioning it, or if I would be happy I got to hear those classics that aren't on the tip of every Stone's fans' tongue.

After the Richard's segment of the show, the Stones rolled through hit after hit right up to the encore. "Sympathy for the Devil," "Honky Tonk Woman," a great version of "Midnight Rambler" that included lyrics from "Sweet Home Chicago," Gimme Shelter," "Paint It Black," and "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

The band's encore saw them perform "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" from the latest album, which features Lady Gaga on the album, and "Satisfaction" before taking their bows and sending fans home happy.

What I liked most about the performance was how happy Mick, Keith, and Ronnie seemed. The band did not scowl, only smiled all night long. Each was caught on camera grinning or smiling throughout the show, seemingly having fun playing for us and themselves. It was great to see The Rolling Stones having fun, enjoying the fruits of a career that started in 1962. Some old-time fans might disagree, but in my eyes, the Stones didn't miss a step during their show Thursday night.

The biggest disappointment for this native Chicagoan? Soldier Field. The 2003 remodel job dumped the spaceship stadium in the bones of the original Soldier Field with its  Doric Columns. One of the things that made Soldier Field and its lakefront home special was its connection to the lake and the City's skyline. When I saw Madonna or Paul McCartney there in the late 80s, it was like the City was part of the energy.

Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media
Rob Creighton / Townsquare Media


Forget that connection as the 300 and 400 sections rise so high that anyone not sitting at the top of the stadium barely gets any view of the City's beautiful skyline, except for the part peeking over the top of the seats in the north endzone. That, for me, was a little bit of a bummer.

When it was all said and done, the Stones delivered, and I had a great time pre-show and post-show hanging out and talking about music, The Rolling Stones, and life with other fans who had traveled into the show. I'd do it all again, too, if given the chance.

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