In his brilliant essay on "Beggars Banquet" for Stranded, Simon Frith wrote:
I don't know how Mick Jagger became the symbol of rock and roll but he did and I've had to think about him and his band and his music more than I've had to think about anything else in rock.
Now mind you, Frith wrote that more than 30 years ago, well before Keith's star rose to the point where it threatened to eclipse Mick's, and well before the Stones would see fit to release a series of albums so unmemorable that even a diehard fan (and I count myself in that group) would be hard-pressed to recall a single song off of them (the exception being "A Bigger Bang," their last effort, which was quite good).
So why did Mick's appearance on the season's last episode of Saturday Night Live lead this old guy to want to stay up until the bitter end? It's probably been well over a decade since that happened.
Well, he is Mick Jagger, after all...
And I'm glad I did, because Mick was on his game last night, making solid contributions to several sketches, including one that was really funny - Mick playing a boring business-type guy at a karaoke bar watching guys do horrible Mick Jagger impressions, while all the women around him swooned with comments like "he's a better Jagger than Mick Jagger!"
But the highlights of the evening were the musical performances, and kudos to whoever thought of it because it was a stroke of genius to pair Mick with Arcade Fire and Foo Fighters. With the former he performed "The Last Time," with the latter he belted out a medley of "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "It's Only Rock and Roll." Both bands were so obviously delighted to be backing Jagger, it was like a shot of adrenaline being injected into an old warhorse. And even the silly blues ditty he sang about Mitt Romney was memorable, as Jeff Beck reminded people not to forget him when the conversation turns to guitar gods.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn't note the lovely sendoff they gave to Kristen Wiig, which you can find over on Hulu. I won't spoil it, except to say that it was another great use of Stones music.
All in all, it was a nice way to spend 90 minutes on a late Saturday night.