FRANKFURT, GERMANY – The Rolling Stones are on tour again, traveling through Europe and preparing themselves for Bicentennial celebrations in the U.S. this summer.
The European leg of the tour, scheduled to include 45 concerts (more if they get permission to perform in the Soviet Union), began April 28th at the Frankfurt Festhalle. With Ronnie Wood appearing as a full-fledged Stone and Billy Preston and percussionist Ollie Brown playing as the only outsiders, the act showed that the Stones have moved even further away from their Sixties repertoire. Of the 20 songs they played here, 14 were from the Seventies and four of those were from the recently released Black and Blue album. Another change was that the previous balance between Jagger and Richards had dissolved. Though together they wrote all but one of the songs on Black and Blue, Richards sang no solos and stayed in the background in the style of Bill Wyman, who himself stood more to the side than ever before.
Jagger was, indisputably, the center of the action. He swung over the audience à la last year's tour, danced on an elevator platform that stretched the length of the stage behind the band, and showered the crowd with both confetti and water in his familiar end-of-the-show stunts. The hall roared when the inflatable penis, which the Stones have nicknamed "the tired grandfather," appeared during "Star, Star." But in this city, already famous for its sausage, the prop remained limp.
The German audience was not especially responsive. It was less impressed by Billy Preston's two vocals than Americans had been last year, and gave a dull reception to the new numbers. And the Stones had their own troubles, hurrying through "Brown Sugar," "Get Off of My Cloud" and "It's Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)" and at times deleting familiar instrumental measures. Jagger's frequent consultation of the running order, listed at the base of Charlie Watt's drum kit, was unnerving, and "Hot Stuff," the new disco number, paled by comparison to the Trammps' "Where the Happy People Go," which had been played before the Meters' well-received opening act.
Still, there were quite a few high moments. The Jagger-Preston Bump during "Outa-Space" aroused the crowd, as did the playful guitar duel between Wood and Richard during "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And the traditional closers, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Street Fighting Man," got the crowd roaring.
It was only the first time out, but Jagger seemed confident. "There will be more Stones tours, I can say that with certainty. It does get a bit boring, people asking me, 'Is this the last Stones tour?' They were even asking me that in 1964."
Despite his promise to continue touring, Jagger claimed he could live without the road. He even went so far as to hint that he's been thinking of returning to university. "It's kind of limiting, in a way, using your intellect to write songs like 'Brown Sugar.' There's nothing wrong with it, but one hopes to do something else with one's life. The only thing I'm really interested in is academics – which sounds sort of bizarre.
"I can imagine myself going back to college. I wouldn't do what I did before at the LSE [London School of Economics]. I was doing things that I thought were going to earn me a living. Now I'd like to read history.
"I'd like to go to college in America. They have some of the best courses, some of the best people. I've thought of studying music; that's what my father told me to do."
Jagger also said that he's lost interest in making movies. "I am disillusioned. You're expected to do a lot of quite shitty movies, which even good actors accept. I enjoyed my two movies but I can see that doing them all the time is repetitive. Even when you're a big star like Robert Redford, you've still got to do shit."
Meantime, the Stones are still a premier rock & roll band. They'll make their first appearances in Spain and Yugoslavia before closing in Vienna on June 23rd. The London shows, booked at the 15,000-seat Earl's Court, will feature a special lotus-flower-shaped stage, and further surprises are planned for the United States. Details – including those surrounding the proposed show scheduled to coincide with the summer Olympics in Montreal – are still to be revealed.
This story is from the June 3rd, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.