LOS ANGELES — The Rolling Stones ripped through the intimate Fonda Theatre on May 20 with enough energy to fuel their entire 15-city North American tour.
The band announced it would perform a “club show” that night to kick off its Zip Code tour, which launches May 24 in San Diego.
The surprise concert at the 1,300-person-capacity venue instantly sold out. And one fan outside the theater offered $4,000 for one ticket.
The Stones played for an hour and a half, including the entire Sticky Fingers album, with the same enthusiasm they had when the record was released in 1971.
“So this is our first show of our tour,” an animated Mick Jagger said. “Tonight we’re doing something we’ve never done before… We’re going to do the whole of ‘Sticky Fingers.’”
The group is re-releasing the album next week.
They played each of the tracks as promised, with Jagger exhibiting the energy of a high-school cheerleader throughout. (Doesn’t he know he’s 71?!)
He strutted and boogied, puffed out his birdlike chest, punched the air and wiggled his wiry frame. He grinned and clapped and urged the audience to join along. And he was in exceptionally fine voice. Who cares if he can’t hit the very highest notes anymore?
Keith Richards was in fine voice, too, and extra smiley. With his white hair and gray pallor, The 71-year-old guitarist kind of looks like he’s made of cigarette ashes, but his guitar is ever young, and Richards looked like he was having fun.
Same for Ronnie Wood, all cheekbones and sinew, and drummer Charlie Watts, who shared a toothy smile with Jagger.
At times, there were as many as 11 musicians on stage, with two keyboardists, two backup singers, two saxophone players and a bassist joining the four Stones members.
The crowd was just as starry, with Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Harry Styles, Leonard Cohen and Kesha among those enjoying the show from the private balcony, open strictly to VIPs.
Jagger was the master of ceremonies, and he was in great spirits.
“I should have warned you before, but there may be a lot of ’60s drug references on this record that may puzzle some people. It was a great, groovy scene,” he said as he introduced “Sister Morphine.”
“That’s seriously a bit of a down song,” he said when they finished it. “And there’s more to come!”
Jagger strapped on an acoustic guitar to perform Wild Horses, and Richards sat down with a 12-string for You’ve Got to Move. The set also included Start Me Up, When the Whip Comes Down and All Down the Line.
The band used its encore to pay tribute to the late BB King, who died last week.
“He was one of our favorite guitarists,” Jagger said, “a wonderful guy who played with us on a number of occasions.”
The Stones’ version of Rock Me Baby featured a harmonica solo by Jagger. They also played Jumpin’ Jack Flash before finishing with Otis Redding’s Can’t Turn You Loose, capping the night with an all-band bow.
The secret-show-before-the-tour is becoming tradition for the Rolling Stones, who played at an even tinier Los Angeles club before launching its 50 and Counting tour at Staples Center in 2013.
“Next year we’ll come back and do the whole of Satanic Majesties,” Jagger quipped.
(SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer)