The Rolling Stones: Exile on Bobby Dodd Way

The Rolling Stones packed out Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium on June 9 as part of the group's 15-city “Zip Code Tour.


The Rolling Stones packed out Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium on June 9 as part of the group's 15-city “Zip Code Tour.” “Start Me Up,” “It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It),” and a run through Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” set the mood for a two-hour greatest hits set.

Frontman Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards, guitarist Ronnie Wood, and drummer Charlie Watts' faces all bear the war wounds of more than half a century steeped in rock ‘n’ roll. They are the last of the old gods — titans of classic rock — but the energy they displayed was unrelenting.

Scenic spectacles included a massive show of lights, three Jumbotrons, and even a fireworks display. But they were merely garnishes for the Stones' time-tested, battle-proven stage presence. Jagger’s strut across the stage through “Miss You” and the almighty “Gimme Shelter” was the stuff of swaggering legend. He still has the convulsive dance steps, and the swiveling skinny hips that made him famous. He knows how to charm a crowd, and his fiery delivery of “Sympathy for the Devil” sucked the air right out of the arena. When the song was done he offered his own bit of criticism: “You all sing beautifully!”

Watts plays drums like it’s still the 1960s, heavy and steady. Wood brought the most teenage energy to the stage, and served as counterpoint to Richards’ coolly hedonistic presence. Alabama-by-way-of-Macon pianist Chuck Leavell graced the stage too, along with a backing band featuring sax man Karl Denson, Darryl Jones (bass), Matt Clifford (keyboards and French horn), Lisa Fischer (vocals), Bernard Fowler (vocals), and Tim Ries (sax). And, of course, the Emory University Concert Choir came to the stage for riveting run through “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

But if ever there was a Stones’ moment that could reduce even the most hardened souls in the crowd to tears it was when backing vocalist Lisa Fischer traipsed along the catwalk to unleash her unholy cry: “Rape, murder! It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away,” during “Gimmie Shelter." Her duet with Jagger at the edge of the stage was one for the history books.

There were a few downers: “Some Girls,” Atlanta’s crowd request, was performed for the first time since 2007, and the group clearly hadn’t rehearsed it since. Richards took lead for “Before They Make Me Run” and “Happy” — the group made it through both numbers, but just barely.

They all rolled with the mistakes, though. And they were all smiles, even when sending those unspoken cues to each other: “Get it together.” The fleeting loose moments only underscored the ecstatic spirit of the music. This was Rock ’n’ roll majesty. Exile on Bobby Dodd Way.

Check out photographer Perry Julien's gallery of images from the show.