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Rolling Stones Kicking Off Tour in Philadelphia

September 1, 1989

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Rolling Stones proved they’ve still got hot stuff as they rocked a crowd of 50,000 to kick off their first tour in eight years.

″They’re better than ever,″ Joy Harrington, 43, of Philadelphia, said following Thursday’s sold-out show that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

The Stones are ″the best partying band,″ said Anne Reissig, 51, from New York’s Long Island.

They were among the crowd that packed Veterans Stadium to see the Stones launch their 36-city ″Steel Wheels″ tour with fireworks and Mick Jagger’s trademark strut. The group opened its last tour in Philadelphia in 1981.

″We’ve started in Philadelphia two times in a row,″ Jagger told crowd. ″I hope it’s not too tough on you.″

″I think they’re better this show,″ said Randy Coppola, 27, of Medford, N.J., who also saw the British band in 1981. ″I think Mick Jagger was in top form.″

The Stones took the stage about 9:30 p.m. with the 1981 hit ″Start Me Up″ and immediately had the crowd dancing. They followed with ″Bitch″ from 1971 and ″Shattered″ from 1978.

They then left the stage briefly, explaining they had lost power.

Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood, bassist Bill Wyman, and drummer Charlie Watts were joined on stage by three backup singers, two keyboard players and five horn players.

Shortly after midnight, they finished their only encore with ″Jumping Jack Flash,″ which was followed briefly by fireworks.

″The Stones not only have it, they have it better than most bands in the last 10 years,″ said Mark Moatz, 29, of Philadelphia. ″I enjoyed it immensely.″

Todd Harrington, 23, Mrs. Harrington’s son, said the band was ″just as good″ as ever and now were ″more mature, better dressed.″

Jagger paraded around the stage singing in his raunchy style and wearing black pants and a kelly green tuxedo jacket. Later, he wore a red jacket.

The Stones performed on a stage that measured 110 feet high and 300 feet wide and showed a scene of industrial decay with catwalks, gray girders and black nets. ″Strong, tough, urban, risky,″ is how set designer Michael Fisher, who previously designed the stage for Pink Floyd’s ″The Wall″ tour, described it.

During ″Honky Tonk Woman,″ two balloon figures of scantily clad women, nearly as tall as the stage, were inflated.

The crowd, which saw the band Living Colour open about 7:45 p.m. with a 45- minute set, ranged from those not yet born when the Stones first began recording 25 years ago to those as old as the band’s members.

″They transcend age groups,″ said Tom Espie, 45, of Scranton. ″I think they’re one of the super bands still left.″

″They seem to change with the times or stay ahead of the times,″ said Rebecca Stinnler, a 25-year-old Doylestown resident who called the band ″the greatest in the world.″

″It’s just good music. I think anybody would like it,″ said Amy LaRue, 20, of Reading.

June Kroop, 41, of Passaic, N.J., said she saw the Stones live when she was 19.

″I never was a hysterical fan for anybody. I just like rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the adventure, the lure,″ she said.

Another show is scheduled for Veterans Stadium tonight before the band goes to Toronto on Sunday.

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