I LOVE the fact that The Rolling Stones still play an occasional small venue. I remember years ago they played in New Haven’s Toad’s Place and this time they followed suit in LA’s Fonda Theatre.
Even though it’s next-to-impossible to get tickets to these rare performances, I get inspired by the reason they choose to do this. Guitarist Keith Richards has publicly stated that they play better in small places. Drummer Charlie Watts likes the small stages because he feels he’s too far away from his bandmates in big stadiums. And I remember reading an interview with either Watts or Richards where they said they think singer Mick Jagger gives his best performances in a small place too. So even though they’ve managed to construct successful large-scale stadium shows with props and video backdrops, they’re even better in intimate venues.
This points to the fact that they started out as a club band, at London’s now-legendary Crawdaddy Club. Here’s a setlist from one of their early shows there (notice how they hadn’t written any hits yet?). This is the thing I love the most about the Stones: they stay connected with their roots. They stay connected with their love of music. They stay connected with why they play music in the first place.
Sure, they get a lot of publicity from these small performances. But even more than that, it keeps them fresh and inspired. We all need to finds ways to stay fresh and inspired! (BTW, after seeing the short video from their LA performance, I went out and rocked on my gig that night!)
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