“We’re in the fifth row!” joked the woman next to me in row 34 on Ohio Stadium’s C deck. “From the back!”
As fans — wearing shirts sporting the famous tongue and carrying $8 beers — filled the ‘Shoe on Saturday night for the Rolling Stones’ Zip Code tour, they would frequently stop themselves midway up the deck to catch their breath.
But the journey was worth it. Because it was the Rolling Stones.
Opener Kid Rock took the stage nearly two hours after doors opened — which left plenty of time for people watching and hoping the dark clouds didn’t open up into a downpour.
The intro of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” introduced Kid Rock to the stage. The song stopped right after “Born and raised in,” allowing the stadium to welcome Kid Rock by singing the name of his hometown. Kid Rock loves Detroit like we love Ohio State.
Kid Rock looked like a tiny jumping bean on stage. He jumped around and up and down, dominating the stage like rock ‘n’ roll was his name.
He hammered out his hard-driving songs — like “Good Times, Cheap Wine,” off his latest album, which includes the lyrics, “I don’t wanna read your Facebook posts or tweets, I just wanna hold you close and feel your heart beat.”
Many fans were far more interested in their phones though. They were taking selfies, posing for photos with the stage in the background (you know, the stage on which a concert was currently happening), discussing who left comments on said photos and how they really need a selfie stick.
It seemed like this wasn’t a concert to experience. It was a concert to tell others you experienced.
The audience was fully engrossed, however, when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played on saxophone and Kid Rock welcomed Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who reportedly shot and killed Osama bin Laden, to the stage.
After the last note of the 2008 hit “All Summer Long” played, all there was left to do was wait for the Stones.
“The Rolling Stones are the history of rock ‘n’ roll!” a man down the row from me cheered. “God, I love the Stones.”
At about 9:45 p.m. the stadium went dark and exploded with cheers. An intro video depicting a physical journey across the country and a journey through the Stones’ career played, ending with a road sign reading, “Welcome to Columbus, 43210” and a voice-over of “Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.”
The legends came out in flashy outfits to roaring cheers and phone cameras flashing.
Mick Jagger worked the stage — running, jumping and shaking his hips like we were back in the ‘60s.
But the Stones were also well aware of where they were.
“This is the stadium of champions, isn’t it?” Jagger asked the audience — which responded with enthusiasm as fresh as it was in January.
At each stop on the tour, fans can vote on a song for the Stones to play. Columbus voted for “Paint it Black.” But before they played that, the Stones played an OSU fan favorite, “Hang On Sloopy.”
I’m not usually a fan of doing “O-H-I-O,” but when prompted by Mick Jagger, I’ll make an exception.
Jagger isn’t the only star of the Rolling Stones though. Midway through the set, Jagger introduced the other band members — ones behind the scenes and ones that have been front and center for decades.
When Keith Richards was introduced, a chant of “Keith! Keith! Keith!” rang through the stadium. Richards stood there beaming and shaking his head laughing before taking over lead vocals for “Before They Make Me Run” and “Happy.”
Jagger rejoined the group for “Midnight Rambler,” where he rolled and rambled his hips — proving he still has the moves.
The Stones played one hit after another, their songs allowing time for guitar and drum solos that showed off their mastery that makes them legends in rock ‘n’ roll history. Unfortunately though, when you’re seated five rows from the back in an open air stadium, sound quality gets a little garbled from time to time.
For their encore, Ohio University Choir joined the Stones on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” — a song that allowed fans to put their arms around each other and sway a la “Carmen, Ohio.”
Their mega hit, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” closed out the night in an explosive fashion.
When descending the 68 steps down to just the C deck after it was all over, there was that sense again that it — the lines, the rain, the sound quality, the constant dodging of being in the background of a selfie — was all worth it. Because it was the Rolling Stones.