It Happened Last Night: The Rolling Stones Took Over South Philly

Photos and dispatches from the packed (and hit-packed) performance.

The Rolling Stones performing at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia as part of they Hackney Diamonds tour

The Rolling Stones performing at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia as part of they Hackney Diamonds tour / Photography by Lisa Schaffer

The first thing you notice is the tailgating. Each makeshift hangout station has its own Rolling Stones soundtrack. So, as you make your way from the Broad Street Line to Lincoln Financial Field for Tuesday’s show, you listen to “Shattered” become “Angie,” which then morphs into “Waiting on a Friend,” and so on. This is a crowd that skews older and judging from the plethora of t-shirts from prior tours, it’s clear they’ve seen this band multiple times before.

A gargantuan arena show by British rock veterans is different enough from an Eagles game that a mild sense of chaos hung over Pattison Avenue as everyone tried to find the right entrance to the Linc. The copious security guards posted at every gate probably spent most of their time glancing at tickets and providing directions towards the correct entryway for each concertgoer.

The crowd was still filtering into the stadium as opening act Kaleo played their Icelandic blues rock. (That’s a genre?!) The band looked like Chris Stapleton roadies and sounded closer to Cinderella. Their last song was barely finished when the headliner’s crew made the gear switch with ruthless efficiency.

At 9:30 p.m., the Rolling Stones hit the stage with a somewhat de rigueur “Start Me Up.” The overwhelming size of their stage was immediately apparent: 180 feet wide by 65 feet deep, flanked by 46-foot-tall digital screens that showed the band and their eight auxiliary musicians from multiple angles.

Rolling Stones fans inside the Linc in South Philadelphia

Rolling Stones fans inside the Linc right after the show started

The Linc was packed. And because the Rolling Stones are old pros at playing stadiums, they long ago figured out how to give even the farthest reaches of the crowd a view of the stage.

It was impressive how vital they sounded for band led by two octogenarians. (As an aside, Amy Perlingiero of South Philadelphia enjoyed “how many times Mick [Jagger] took off a layer of clothing while performing, only to put something else on and remove it again during another song.”)

the rolling stones in philadelphia on their 2024 tour

Collin and Holly Keefe of South Philadelphia got their tickets from a family member on Tuesday afternoon. They were especially excited to hear favorites like “She’s a Rainbow,” “Monkey Man” and “Tumbling Dice.” “I was really blown away by the energy,” Collin said. “These guys are like the same age as my dad (and President Joe Biden), and yet still rock it out on every song.”

The audience enthusiastically responded to a sing-along, gospel-inspired “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Other highlights included “Gimme Shelter,” featuring an incendiary showcase from backing singer Chanel Haynes; and the extended “Midnight Rambler” that showed off Jagger’s harmonica skills and a bluesy guitar interplay by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The band also played three songs from their most recent album, Hackney Diamonds — nominally the whole reason for this tour — though these were the songs during which people were most likely to sit back down, or hit the restrooms and concession stands.

the rolling stones on tour at the linc in philadelphia

As a frontman, Jagger is nothing if not well-rehearsed, rattling off trivia about prior Philly shows (they first played here in 1965 with Herman’s Hermits) and dropping references to the Phanatic, Gritty, and Tastykakes. His crack about an exchange program with the Stones in town and the Phillies in England got some nods; no one had the heart to tell Mick that the Fightins were already back in the U.S. and playing in Boston that night. And his showmanship was in full force: He did his pointing dance, his hand-clapping dance, and made numerous jaunts down the stage catwalk.

After a one-song encore of “Satisfaction” (what did you expect?), the show wrapped up at the two-hour mark. The road crew reappeared and moved fast, and the crowd moved slowly to the exits.

Want to see the Rolling Stones’ 2024 tour for yourself? You better act fast, because it all ends in July. Alas, the closest they’re getting to Philly after last night is Cleveland.

Bonus: Rolling Stones Fans in the Parking Lot

Before Philadelphia photographer Lisa Schaffer went into Lincoln Financial Field to catch the Rolling Stones show, we sent her out to the parking lot to meet some fans. Here are some photos from her fan interactions.