NEW YORK (AP) — It sure didn't feel like a farewell.
The Rolling Stones — average age 68-plus, if you're counting — were in rollicking form as they rocked the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for 2½ hours Saturday night, their first U.S. show on a mini-tour marking a mind-boggling 50 years as a rock band.
And although every time the Stones tour, the inevitable questions arise, — whether it's "The Last Time," to quote one of their songs — there was no sign that anything is ending anytime soon.
"People say, why do you keep doing this?" mused 69-year-old Mick Jagger, the band's impossibly energetic frontman, before launching into "Brown Sugar." ''Why do you keep touring, coming back? The answer is, you're the reason we're doing this. Thank you for buying our records and coming to our shows for the last 50 years."
Jagger was in fine form, with strong vocals and his usual swagger — strutting, jogging, skipping and pumping his arms like a man half his age. And though he briefly donned a flamboyant feathered black cape for "Sympathy for the Devil" and later, some red-sequined tails, he was mostly content to prowl the stage in a tight black T-shirt and trousers.
The band's guitarists, the brilliant Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, alternated searing solos and occasionally ventured onto a stage extension that brought them closer to the crowd. The now-gray Richards, wearing a red bandana, exuded the easy familiarity of a favorite uncle: "While we wait for Ronnie," he said at one point, "I'll wish you happy holidays." Watts, the dapper drummer in a simple black T-shirt, smiled frequently at his band mates.
The grizzled quartet was joined on "Gimme Shelter" by Mary J. Blige, who traded vocals with Jagger and earned a huge cheer at the end. Also visiting: the Texas blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr.
The sense of nostalgia was heightened by projections on a huge screen of footage of the early days, when the Stones looked like teenagers. At one point, Jagger reminisced about the first time the band played New York — in 1964.
A carton of milk cost only a quarter then, he said. And a ticket to the Rolling Stones? "I don't want to go there," he quipped. It was a reference to the sky-high prices at the current "50 and Counting" shows, where even the "cheap" seats cost a few hundred dollars and a prime seat cost in the $700 range or higher.
From the opening number, "Get Off Of My Cloud," the band played a generous 23 songs, including two new ones — "Doom and Gloom" and "One More Shot" — but mostly old favorites. The rousing encore included "Jumping Jack Flash," of course, but the final song was "Satisfaction." And though the song speaks of not getting any, the consensus of the packed 18,000-seat arena was that it was a satisfying evening indeed.
"If you like the Stones, this was as good a show as you could have had," said one fan, Robert Nehring, 58, of Westfield, N.J., who'd paid $500 for his seat. "It was worth it," he said simply.