If the Stones were going to indulge the 21st-century craving of fans to hear classic albums played in their entirety, it had to be 1971’s dark landmark Sticky Fingers. Begun before Altamont kissed off the 60s, it launched Rolling Stones Records with their gloriously diseased declaration of intent for the decade they would dominate as the recently christened Greatest Rock ’N’ Roll Band In The World.
Previous tours may have seen the Stones exhume little-performed tracks, but the opening night of 2015’s Zip Code US tour marked their first time playing an album all the way through. Thankfully the cameras were rolling when the Stones took the stage of LA’s 1,200-capacity Fonda Theatre and eased into Start Me Up, with Jagger on magisterial form.
After When The Whip Comes Down and All Down The Line, Jagger announces: “Tonight we’re gonna do something we’ve never done before.” Which was to play a whole album, albeit with no intention of following its running order. Saving Brown Sugar for the home stretch, they ease into the heady swirl of Sway and a sparkling Dead Flowers, before suspending time with a gorgeous Wild Horses and spectral narcotic chiller Sister Morphine. Richards’s 12-string rakes Delta dirt on the gutbucket field holler of Fred McDowell’s You Gotta Move, and Bitch kicks on one of his finest riffs. After Can’t You Hear Me Knocking is transformed by sax maestro Karl Denson going head-tohead with Wood, the dirt-slow soul of I Got The Blues is followed by a sumptuous Moonlight Mile, elevated by Jagger’s astonishing falsetto. Then it’s Brown Sugar, the omnipotent sleaze anthem that handed the Stones their crown for the rest of the decade and beyond. Sticky Fingers successfully licked, they play Rock Me Baby in tribute to recently deceased BB King, ram-raid Jumpin’ Jack Flash and charge through Otis Redding’s I Can’t Turn You Loose.
The beautifully framed gig footage is interspersed with band interviews plus analysis of the album’s Warhol-designed zipper sleeve; Factory designer Corey Tippin was the model, although ‘superstar’ Joe Dallasandro discusses his own claim on the bulge.
Closing credits roll to I Just Want To See His Face from Exile On Main Street. Imagine that.