Mick Jagger recalls the first time the Rolling Stones played at Arrowhead Stadium.
“One of the first stadium shows we did was there,” he told The Star recently from London. “I remember that one. It was a big outside show in the daylight. I wore, like, football clothes with yellow trousers. It’s all about the clothes, really.”
The date was June 6, 1975. Kansas City was the Stones’ third stop on their Tour of the Americas ’75.
Forty years later, on June 27, the Stones will bring their Zip Code Tour to Arrowhead Stadium. It will be their first performance in Kansas City since April 1999, when they performed at Kemper Arena.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Jagger said despite the size of the venue, stadium shows have their own charms and special vibe.
“You get a good mix of people, he said. “The more people there are the more of a mix you get. There’s a nice summer feel to it normally, if it’s in the summer, you get a festival-like feeling. Everyone’s really out to have a good time. It’s normally very relaxed. It’s just a different vibe. All this tour is outside so it should be good.”
Stadium shows, he said, require some adjustments when it comes to compiling the set list.
“You somewhat cater the show for where you are, a little bit, to what you think is going to work in the place you’re in,” he said. “A lot of time it’s a question of trying to please the majority, which is the name of the game when you’re playing for a lot of people. If you’re in a little club, you can play anything you want. In a stadium, you’ve got to play what people are familiar with. You can make some exceptions and play a few odd things, but most of the time you play a selection of things people know.”
The set list changes from tour to tour and from one show to the next, Jagger said, and variables are considered.
“We used to have a fund of songs we’d play on each particular tour,” he said. “And we’d have a rag-bag section to choose from, and for certain bits of the show, we’d say, ‘Let’s change this one; let’s change that one.’ Of course we play a lot of the same songs every night but we do try to change them.”
Though it was 16 years ago, he said, he and his mates will look at the set list from that Kemper Arena show in 1999 when considering what to play at Arrowhead.
“They’ll say, ‘We played Kansas City in 1999,’ and I’ll say, ‘What’s that got to do with anything? How do I know anyone will be there who was there in 1999? That’s an assumption.’ And they’ll say, ‘Well, we better not play too many of the same songs.’ Obviously we can play some but we won’t play some of the others. So there’s a lot of consideration.”
One album that will get extra attention on this tour will be “Sticky Fingers,” which is getting the deluxe-reissue treatment this month.
“When we rehearse, we’ll pull out different ones we haven’t played in a while,” he said. “We’re re-releasing ‘Sticky Fingers,’ so we might want to feature a little more of that album and play songs we haven’t done too much from that album.”
In 2012, the Stones celebrated their 50th anniversary with a 30-show tour. They resumed touring in 2014, performing 29 shows, from China to Scandinavia to Australia. The Zip Code Tour, which opens in San Diego on May 24, will stop in 15 cities in 52 days. Jagger, 71, said the key to the band’s longevity is its ability to sustain interest in performing and the willpower to do what’s necessary.
“Yeah, for a rock band, (50 years) pretty much has not been done before,” he said. “We’re a bit in unknown territory, really. But to me it has to do with enthusiasm. Rock music requires enthusiasm, energy and a modicum of musical talent. You’ve got to have all those things.
“You’ve got to be enthusiastic for what you do when you get out there and have the energy to do it. All music requires energy, I suppose, but rock music needs a lot of physical energy. If you’ve still got that, then great. If you don’t then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”
It also requires that a band summon ways to keep the live shows fresh.
“I’m pretty spontaneous when I get out there,” he said. “Even if you don’t feel on top of your game or depending on what mood you’re in, you’ve got to work yourself up into it and stay fresh. Just doing a few things, like changing the (set list) can stop you from becoming an automatic-pilot person.
“But, you know, every show is different. Playing stadiums is different. Each stadium is slightly different. Arenas all tend to look the same. Stadiums don’t, depending on what kind of sport is played in them. So you have to watch your p’s and q’s when you’re doing sound check. And audiences are always different. Some you really have to work, some you don’t. So there are a lot of challenges every night.”
Jagger recently has stepped into the world of filmmaking. He has produced two projects about one of his music heroes, James Brown: the biopic “Get on Up” and the HBO documentary “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown.”
“James was one of my biggest influences, musically and onstage,” he said. “It was great to do these pictures about his life and his achievements. Obviously, there were lots of ups and downs. I was pleased with the results.”
He is also producing an HBO series that is being directed by Martin Scorsese. The show has yet to be titled, but its story line involves music and a guy who owns a record company.
“I wrote an outline a while ago that was a movie to start with but became a TV series,” he said. “Martin Scorsese got involved. We shot the pilot but we’re not quite happy with all the names it’s been given. It should be out in January. We’re about to start shooting the rest of the show. We may even be shooting in Kansas.”
Film, he said, explores dimensions he doesn’t get from music.
“The ones I work on have some kind of music thing in it, which makes it similar to my music projects,” he said. “But there are a lot of things you don’t quite get so much in music work: literary things, characters, drama, lots of conflict and things to work through. It’s another artistic experience.”
On the way
The Rolling Stones are scheduled to perform June 27 at Arrowhead Stadium. Tickets are $65.50 to $346 through Ticketmaster.com.