And what a ride it’s been. For his body, for music, and for all of us. Happy Birthday Keith.
His use of silence/space, the 5-string open G Tele, playing milliseconds behind or ahead of the beat, the multitude and breadth of styles he could inhabit, the infectious grooves he could create, the heart and ‘tude he’s brought to the table all these years.
The Vibrato. The Quiet One. The Kid. The non-flashy one. And now, thirty-eight years after leaving the Rolling Stones and thirty-one since they last played live with him (2003’s guest appearance was scuttled while he waited backstage with his guitar), the unassuming guitarist who took them to musical heights not seen since stepped out on the darkened blue stage and completed the journey. He had so much pep in his step, it looked like it was impossible for him to relax into a slow blues or even assume his traditional standing-still stage demeanor of yore.
He spun around, he lurched, he prowled the front of the stage (has he ever done this even once in his entire career?), he gravitated between hanging out with the guitarists in front of Charlie Watts’ drums and heading out to play off of the other Mick who was busy blowing harp and exhorting the audience. It was a little messy, and surely a little disorienting to be playing on a giant stage again after years decades away from the limelight. Was he sending a message to Jagger and the others? Something along the lines of “I can still play this shit and I can even walk around and entertain if you need an extra guitarist for the 2013 tour”. The Vibrato has become the Big Gazelle. Was it the shoes?
A little bit of Stones to help break in the site, called, appropriately enough, Melody. This is one of their coolest jazz-type numbers and one most folks have never heard before. It features a wonderful vocal interplay between Jagger and pianist Billy Preston, a horn arrangement by Arif Mardin, a great slinky rhythm and some choice campy gut-busting lyrics:
“Melody, it was her second name; Melody, it was her second name.
Then one day she left me, she took everything and moved
She took my trailer home, she took my Sunday booze”.