Actually, the Stones’ first concert in the U.S. took place at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1964, where they were booked as a last-minute replacement when the promoter’s deal to bring the Beatles to the Swing fell through. And the band’s watershed Exile on Main Street tour started eight years later in Vancouver, Canada, then played down the West Coast before heading east.
Still, those were anomalies among half a century of touring on both sides of the Atlantic. So far, only about a dozen dates in May and June have been announced, with stops in Boston, Anaheim, San Jose, Oakland, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, London and Glastonbury. But it’s hard to imagine cranking up the juggernaut that is a Rolling Stones tour for such a relatively short run.
The Bigger Bang tour started with a similarly modest number of dates in 2005 but extended into 2006 and 2007, pulling in $558.3 million over the entire run to become the highest-grossing concert tour in history, according to Billboard. That figure was eclipsed by U2’s mammoth 360 Tour, which took in $736.4 million from 2009 to 2011, a total even the Stones are unlikely to top because so far the 50 and Counting itinerary doesn’t include stadium shows.
“The thing about the Stones is, once you start this thing rolling, it’s hard to stop,” Richards said. “I’m happy to play as many gigs as we can.”
Their shows at the end of 2012 expanded the repertoire backward as they attempted to acknowledge the group’s early material more than they had on recent tours. The group reached back to its first hit, “I Wanna Be Your Man,” written for them by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
“We thought it’d be a laugh,” Jagger said. “It was great in rehearsals, but it didn’t really translate as good as I had hoped. The idea was having three really ancient numbers to open with, and having this black-and-white look and feel to the whole thing. It kind of worked, but then it kind of crumbled.”