In Japan, where rock & roll fans consider the Rolling Stones hon mono – "the real thing" – Mick Jagger's eight-show solo concert tour sold out in a matter of hours. The shows were the first Japanese concerts by any member of the Stones, whose 1973 tour of the country was scrapped due to drug-related visa problems.
Jagger gave four performances in Osaka, two in Tokyo and two in Nagoya. A total of about 170,000 fans paid an average of 6500 yen apiece – approximately $50 – for the chance to see the forty-four-year-old superstar.
Officially dubbed Suntory Dry Beer Live Mick Jagger in Japan, the tour – although a commercial and artistic success – showed how disappointing Jagger's career as a solo performer has been. By the time he reached Tokyo's Korakuen stadium on March 22nd, Jagger had dropped three of the solo songs he had performed at his shows in Osaka; the Tokyo concert featured just six songs from his two solo albums, She's the Boss and Primitive Cool. Instead, the fans at the newly opened 50,000-seat domed stadium were treated to a heavy dose of Stones classics in the twenty-two-song, two-and-a-half-hour show.
Strutting out to the unmistakable opening notes of "Honky Tonk Women," Jagger quickly set the tone for the evening. Backing the singer was a first-rate band that featured drummer Simon Phillips, bassist Doug Wimbish and guitarist Joe Satriani, as well as a group of background singers that included Bernard Fowler and Lisa Fischer. Jagger moved quickly on to a powerful version of his own "Throwaway," from Primitive Cool.
Things went to full throttle as the band slammed into "Bitch" and "Let's Spend the Night Together." Along with second guitarist Jimmy Ripp, Satriani gave a full course on guitar-hero poses for both the crowd and the cameras filming the show for a subsequent Japanese TV broadcast. But it was Jagger – never a slouch when it comes to playing to a crowd – who dominated the show: though the band was given an ample share of the spotlight, it operated in the court of the king.
The show ended with a scorching rendition of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" while a swirling constellation of lights filled the dome; the band waved goodbye as Jagger gave a formal Japanese bow.
For the encore, giant hanko (Japanese signature stamps) that bore Jagger's name in Japanese letters appeared on the monitors, and the Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta came into view, pounding the opening drum part of "Sympathy for the Devil." Jagger reappeared wearing a hannya, a Japanese devil mask, and was soon joined by some forty dancing girls outfitted in black and pink. Smoking volcanoes kicked off the show's final number, a furious, metallic version of "Satisfaction." The Japanese fans were elated: it was almost like seeing the Rolling Stones.
This story is from the May 5, 1988 issue of Rolling Stone.