Yes, it's a bit of a circus -- it generally has been since the 1975 tour -- but if you look beyond the fireworks, the various inflatable objects, and Mick's bright-yellow tights, there's never been any doubt that they really are a wonderful rock-and-roll band. Keith, for God's sake. Charlie. And look at that back catalogue. That's what they'll be doing, with their first career-spanning anthology imminent and only four new songs to flog. But what a chance for the Stones to surprise us. Because assuming Jagger's in fine voice, it really comes down to the set list. Early intelligence from the Toronto rehearsals suggests some tantalizing possibilities: "Casino Boogie," "She Smiled Sweetly," "I'm a King Bee," "Heart of Stone." It's all a matter of taste -- one fan's blues harmonica is another's smoke machine -- but we certainly won't be crestfallen if they choose to skip "Hot Stuff" and slip into "Torn and Frayed." And sure, if Mick decides he wants to sing it suspended upside down from an enormous papier-mâché codpiece, we're willing to meet him halfway.
The Rolling Stones add a few new wrinkles to their live act.
(Virgin; October 1).
The Stones appear at Madison Square Garden September 26; Giants Stadium September 28; Roseland September 30.