When the Rolling Stones Opened Their 2021 Tour, Minus Charlie Watts

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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performing “Street Fighting Man” on opening night of the Rolling Stones’ 2021 tour

The Rolling Stones began the 2021 edition of their No Filter tour on September 26, with a 19-song set in St. Louis, Mo. The 13-date stadium tour was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but, like virtually every live performance during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was delayed. The storyline, however, was the absence of the man who kept the beat for nearly six decades. Drummer Charlie Watts, of course, died on Aug. 24, just three weeks after it was revealed that he would not be performing due to an illness.

For now, the Stones continue with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. They’re joined on stage by longtime bass guitarist Darryl Jones and keyboardist and de facto tour musical director Chuck Leavell, as well as veteran drummer Steve Jordan, who received Watts’ endorsement as his replacement for this tour.

Artwork created for the Rolling Stones’ 2021 No Filter Tour

In between the second and third songs on opening night, Jagger announced that they were dedicating the tour to Watts.

Jagger is still skipping along on stage, cat-like at 78. Keith Richards is 77, and Ronnie Wood, the youngest, is 74. For several years, the Stones have padded the calendar with extra days off in between concerts. The 13 concerts on the 2021 tour span eight weeks. The final show was Nov. 23.

The Stones played a shortened, private concert on Sept. 20, for New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, beginning the evening with “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” Before taking the stage on Sunday night, at The Dome at America’s Center, Watts was saluted with a one-minute video tribute, coupled with the rat-a-tat-tat of the drums. Moments later, the Stones took the stage with the celebratory opening chords of “Street Fighting Man.”

Watch the opening with the video tribute

Two songs in, following “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” Jagger paid tribute to Watts. “It was quite emotional seeing those pictures of Charlie up on the screen,” he said. “This is our first tour that we’ve ever done without him so all the reaction… from you guys has been very touching,” Jagger said, as he held Richards’ hand. “We all miss Charlie so much on the stage and off the stage. And we dedicate this tour to Charlie!”

Watch Jagger’s speech, followed by “Tumbling Dice”

“19th Nervous Breakdown,” released 55 years ago, sounded fresh.

Mid-set, it was time for “Honky Tonk Woman.”

Days before the tour began, Jagger told an interviewer, “The thing about Charlie was that he was always there, always played beautifully and was always willing to discuss what to do about it – how he could make it better. He held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around.”

Richards added, “A most vital part of being in this band was that Charlie Watts was my bed. I could lay on there, and I know that not only would I have a good sleep, but I’d wake up and it’d still be rocking. It was something I’ve had since I was 19. I never doubted it. I never even thought about it. Only now am I thinking about it. At the same time, I know I have a very good man who understands that in [drummer Steve] Jordan. Without a drummer, you ain’t nowhere.”

Watch Mick introduce the musicians including, of course, Jordan, who received a rousing ovation

Richards did his customary mid-set turn on lead vocals, with “Happy” and “Slipping Away.”

Watch them perform “Paint It Black”

Watch “Sympathy For the Devil” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” close the main set

Note: Thanks to EdBmusic for the initial clips and Dustin Scott and dnewton98 for many of the later ones.

The Rolling Stones, The Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis, MO, Sept. 26, 2021 Setlist

Street Fighting Man
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
Tumbling Dice
Under My Thumb
19th Nervous Breakdown
Wild Horses
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Living In a Ghost Town
Start Me Up
Honky Tonk Woman
Slipping Away
Miss You
Midnight Rambler
Paint It Black
Sympathy For the Devil
Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Gimme Shelter
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

When the Stones tour, tickets are available here and here.

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3 Comments so far

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  1. kel vardon
    #1 kel vardon 27 September, 2021, 00:41

    that rat-a-tat-tat is known as “can’t you hear me knocking”….drummer’s intuition, i guess. knock in peace, charlie.

    Reply this comment
    #2 ROUNDER 27 September, 2021, 12:57

    We were there last night. The Stones were as good as ever. I have seen them many times and they didn’t miss a beat. We drove from Chicago specifically to see the Stones and it was worth every bit of it.

    Reply this comment
  3. MJK
    #3 MJK 28 September, 2021, 07:56

    They probably were great and on they go, but Charlie will be missed! He was such a rock solid force behind the making of all those iconic songs that make up our lives!
    Rest In Peace Charlie, and we all are still listening…..forever…

    Reply this comment

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