Da bomb: Promoter sez Stones dug us
The World's Greatest Rock Band comes to Charlottesville and is greeted with– a bomb threat. The unusual part wasn't the threat, it's that it stopped the show.
"We get bomb threats every two or three shows," says Tres Thomas, the director of touring for the Stones. "It was a credible threat," he adds. "Everyone thought it was a good idea to take a pause."
Despite this "unforeseen intermission," the Stones put on one of the best shows they've done in awhile, according to people who travel with them and have seen them perform many times.
"That was a Mick Jagger I don't think I've seen on stage in 15 years," observes Thomas. "Universally, in our camp, that was the consensus."
And in his limo on the way back to Richmond to stay at the five-star Jefferson Hotel, "Keith was raving about how great the crowd was," says Thomas. "I told you Keith loves playing in the rain."
The Stones' time in Charlottesville on concert day was brief– but it had some comforts of home. Thomas says two tractor trailers carry furnishings to turn bland conference rooms and stadium locker rooms into a personal oasis for each member of the band.
"We pipe and drape the rooms to create an intimate atmosphere," says Thomas. "It's decorated and lighted to look homey– even if it is a locker room."
Then there's the band's lounge. In the past, the theme has been the "Sheeben" and "Voodoo Lounge." This tour, friends of the band were invited backstage to the "Rattlesnake Inn" pre-show to feast on delicacies such as paté, hearts of palm salad, flank steak with southwestern seasonings, roasted asparagus, vegetarian lasagna, and that British comfort food, shepherd's pie (always there because it's Keith Richards' favorite).
The Stones "had a great time" during their stay in Richmond, says Thomas, but they were cautioned about the Taylor Behl murder, the big story there.
After the Scott Stadium extravaganza, Mick did not accompany his band mates back to Richmond– Jumping Jack Flash really did crash crash crash. Because of how exhausting his performances are, "Mick doesn't like to travel that far after a show," explains Thomas.
He spent the night at the Keswick Hall, which had previously denied that the Stones were staying there. There was no room at the inn, confirms Keswick general manager Tony McHale, but Jagger's manager was persistent.
"He said, 'Are you sure?'" says McHale. As cancellations came up, "We'd find one, then two, then five rooms. It's so typical. Hotels in general suffer from attrition– then you've turned away Mick Jagger."
McHale, who used to work at the ultra-luxe Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, says Jagger was just like any other guest. "He just blended right in. There were several raised eyebrows when he dined with us, people wondering, 'Is that Mick Jagger?'"
And when the Jagger party left, "We shook hands, and he said it was a great stay," says McHale.
That seemed to be the consensus among the rest of the Stones during their brief visit. "I think Charlottesville lived up to their expectations," says Thomas, who had a little more at stake with this particular show because he lives here.
"They knew it was my town," he says, "and they made the extra effort. They're really are good people, and they support the people who work with them. And I think the roar of the crowd energized them."
A coveted pass to the "Rattlesnake Inn"
Mick ended up spending two nights together with Keswick Hall.
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO