Bomb buzz: Threat doesn't slow Stones

When the Rolling Stones came to Scott Stadium on October 6, many expected the concert would be the bomb. But no one expected a bomb threat would take the Stones off the stage for nearly an hour and leave concertgoers wondering whether they'd get any satisfaction.

The threat was called in to 911 at 8:56pm, says UVA spokesperson Carol Wood, and specifically referenced the stage area. "Within minutes," Wood adds, "Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones' lead singer, was alerted, and he announced that the band would take a 10-minute break."

However, the Hook's stopwatch indicates that nearly 45 minutes had already elapsed between the call and Jagger's announcement, which came at approximately 9:40pm, just as the singer was introducing Ron "Rembrandt" Wood, who had just sat down at a steel guitar at the front of the stage.

After leaving the stage briefly, Jagger returned to the mike, cited a "technical problem" and apologized. "Sorry, it's not our fault," he shouted as he backed off the stage.

As the football lights came up and officers with dogs came down the grassy bank behind the stage, many audience members realized this was no "technical problem."

"I've been to six Stones concerts, and this is the first time this has ever happened," says Gym Beau of Virginia Beach. " I wouldn't have expected it to happen at UVA. Thomas Jefferson would be pissed."

"We get a bomb threat every two or three shows," says concert organizer Tres Thomas. But if bomb threats are common, stopping a Stones performance because of them is not.

Thomas calls this particular threat "credible" but declines further elaboration.

Wood also declines to give details on the threat, citing the ongoing investigation. "We have to take every bomb threat seriously," she says.

Though the entire stadium had been searched immediately before the show and the stadium itself had been "locked down" since Monday, Wood says officials deemed a mid-concert sniff prudent.

As yellow-shirted security personnel emptied the stage wings of VIPs and slowly herded patrons in the first 30 rows of seats toward the back of the stadium, the Stones walked up the north-end hillside and were then whisked, according to eyewitness accounts, into two white vans. Concert officials said the band was driven to their dressing rooms in Bryant Hall which hugs the opposite end of the stadium.

Though the threat was apparent even without an official announcement, the crowd of nearly 55,000 remained orderly despite some confusion on the floor.

"All of a sudden they're moving us back, and they've got the state troopers and the bomb-sniffing dogs," says Charlottesvillian Rob Wright. "Everyone in the yellow shirts seemed a little confused about what to do."

Other concertgoers praised the orderly exodus.

"It was an excellent response," said Kathe Fineman.

While police forces were sweeping the area, UVA officials gave their blessing to allow the concert to go past its planned end-time.

"The Stones representative asked [UVA vice president Leonard] Sandridge if he wanted them to end at 11, as originally planned, or provide the complete show," says Wood. " Mr. Sandridge, in consultation with President Casteen, made the decision that we would like to provide the complete show to our patrons who had waited patiently."

And provide they did.

Without missing a beat, Jagger and company retook the stage at 10:39pm, after the 59-minute break, and blasted out "Miss You," riding the stage on a track through the middle of the audience toward the south end of the stadium.

Jagger was a whirling dervish, spinning, skipping, clapping, and leaping through crowd-pleasing numbers including "Sympathy for the Devil," "Paint it Black," "Brown Sugar," and "Jumping Jack Flash." By the time the band ended with the encore, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," the crowd had found plenty.

"It was really cool that they came back after the big break and didn't mail in their performance," says Jesse Crew of Charlottesville. "Mick is a star."

As the Stones headed off to shows in Durham, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, UVA police, with the assistance of Charlottesville and Albemarle police and State troopers, continue to investigate the threat.

At press time, UVA police had announced no leads, but if caught, the perpetrator could be convicted of a class five felony and face two to 10 years in prison.

Gym Beau: "... Thomas Jefferson would be pi**ed."

Rob Wright: "All of a sudden they're moving us back, and they've got the state troopers and the bomb-sniffing dogs."

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