Stoned in Hartford

rock

Some folks might be tired of hearing about the Rolling Stones at this point, but not you. You can't get enough of these guys, right? Good.

The Stones absolutely tore up the Hartford Civic Center Monday night with a slashing two-and-a-half-hour set that was simply too magnificent to be broken down and analyzed song by song. From the opening riff of "Under My Thumb" to the final grunt of "Satisfaction," the old men of white R and B proved that they still command the most powerful live punch of anyone on the concert hall stage.

The musical problems that apparently plagued the group earlier on their current American tour are gone; Ron Wood and Keith Richards started every number in the same key. But what is left is a raunchy gruffness: stinging solos bashing into bass and drums; sixth and seventh Stones Ian Stewart and Ian MacLagen banging out their honky-tonk keyboards, oblivious to the rest of the band; Jagger demonstarting graphically just what you do with brown sugar.

Everything they say about the Stones in concert is true. Richards, not Jagger, runs the show, beginning songs when he's damn well ready and when he's found someone to light his cigarette. Bill Wyman does not move and may not even have been breathing. And as Keef himself says, "White drummers don't swing, except for Charlie Watts."

The difference between the Stones and rock and roll was made painfully obvious by the opening act, the now-chic Garland Jeffries. He shouted and did "96 Tears" but had to keep reminding the audience why he was there.

He sang two songs in which the catch word was spelled out letter by letter in the chorus: "R - O - C - K...Rock!" and "L - O - V - E - R - S...Modern Lovers!" One guy in the 20th row managed to light himself on fire he was so bored.

There were no questions as to why the Stones were there, as they have been for almost 20 years of inimitable musicianship.