The Rolling Stones kicked off their first US tour since the death of Charlie Watts with a tribute to the group’s drummer of six decades.
The show opened on an empty stage with only a drum beat and photos of Watts flashing on a video board.
After the second song, a rousing rendition of “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood headed to the front of the stage.
Jagger and Richards clasped hands as they thanked fans for the outpouring of support and love for Watts.
Then Jagger acknowledged how emotional it was seeing the photos of Watts.
“This is our first-ever tour we’ve ever done without him,” Jagger said.
“We’ll miss Charlie so much, on and off the stage.”
The band then dedicated “Tumbling Dice” to their former bandmate.
The tour was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Signs of the virus remained at the show in Missouri, a state hit hard by the COVID Delta variant.
The tens of thousands of fans were required to wear masks with a vaccination area set up on site.
The concert featured the same driving beat personified by Watts, thanks to his replacement, Steve Jordan.
The drummer may be new to some fans but he is not new to the Stones – Jordan has performed for years with Richards’ side project, X-Pensive Winos, along with many other leading acts.
Watts joined the band in 1963 and is widely considered one of Rock’s greatest drummers.
Laura Jezewski, 62, of Omaha, Nebraska, said seeing the Stones without Watts was bittersweet.
“He’s the first of the old Stones to pass away,” she said.
After St. Louis the tour continues around the US, ending in Texas on November 20.
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