The Rolling Stones kick off their 2019 “No Filter” North American tour dates tonight (June 21st) at Chicago's Soldier Field with special guests St. Paul & the Broken Bones. The revamped 17-show run winds down on August 31st at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium, and was postponed in April following Mick Jagger's successful heart valve procedure that same month. At the time, many industry insiders doubted that the Stones would be able to book dates before 2020 due to venue availability

Mick Jagger said that although the Stones played up their bad boy tendencies during their first decade as a band, he's still amazed at how quickly the establishment chose to embrace the band: “But, y'know, in a funny way, we didn't really have a (laughs) choice, y'know? 'Okay, I'm gonna be an anti-hero now — now I'm not going to be!' I had no real idea that our kinda slight scruffiness was going to turn into this anti-heroic act. In some ways, we were swept along with the tide, but we helped ourselves propel ourselves along with it.”

Keith Richards admitted that he was surprised at how easily the Stones were able to start firing on all cylinders once they regrouped in December 2012 for the first shows of their 50 And Counting dates: “It's very high energy and very enthusiastic. It's almost like, 'Hey! We got a gig!' Y'know, I mean . . . and everybody's really up for it. I'm amazed how the band has moved just straight into the slot. I thought it would be a little rusty and cranky to start with, but everybody was up from day one. So, I'm really looking forward to this, man.”

Ron Wood told us that at this point — with well over 50 years of classic songs and dozens of tours under their belt — the Stones are clearly sailing in uncharted waters: “We notice that we're cutting new ground, y'know, in that no bunch of guys have ever stuck together this long in the rock n' roll field.”

Charlie Watts is impressed that the Stones are still operating at peak condition: “Nobody ever believes that you can have the energy as you get older. They think it's a young kid's music because it's not old enough to be older musicians playing it and here we are again proving them wrong hopefully.”

IN OTHER STONES NEWS

Out today June 21st is the latest multimedia archival release from the Rolling Stones — Bridges To Bremen. The previously unreleased German concert was captured on September 2nd, 1998 during the band's 1997/1998 97-date Bridges To Babylon tour. The film has been completely restored, remixed, and remastered and will be available on digital, DVD and double-CD, Blu-ray and double-CD, triple vinyl and digital audio.

The Bridges To Babylon tour signaled a new era for the Stones, marking the first time the band went on the road with a permanent B-stage, and also ushering in the digital era when fans could vote on the band’s website for a track they wanted to hear at the show — with the Bremen show featuring the fan-voted Black And Blue deep cut “Memory Motel.” In addition, the DVD and Blu-ray portions of the package includes four bonus songs taped live in September 1997 at Chicago's Soldier Field.

The tracklisting to The Rolling Stones: Bridges To Bremen DVD is:

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “Flip The Switch,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Anybody Seen My Baby,” “Paint It, Black,” “Saint Of Me,” “Out Of Control,” “Memory Motel,” “Miss You,” “Thief In The Night,” “Wanna Hold You,” “Its Only Rock N' Roll (But I Like It),” “You Got Me Rocking,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “Brown Sugar.”

“Bridges To Chicago” — Bonus Performances: “Rock And A Hard Place,” “Under My Thumb,” “All About You,” and “Let It Bleed.”

At the Rolling Stones' Bridges To Babylon tour announcement on August 8th, 1997 under New York's Brooklyn Bridge, Mick Jagger hipped the press as to what they could expect from the band's upcoming dates: “This tour, I think is going to be a more interesting stage and I think as far as the music's concerned, I think we're going to some old favorites, we're going to do some new things, we're going to do some unusual things; and the tour's a mixture of gigs. There going to some. . . there going to be lots of stadiums, and there's going to be some theaters, and some clubs on the tour. So, I think it's going to be a really exciting tour and I think it's going to be a different tour to the Voodoo Lounge (tour), so, you gotta be there.”

Former-Stones sideman, vocalist/guitarist Blondie Chaplin of the Beach Boys is featured on the Bremen disc and told us that the Stones have never failed to be consistently hot in concert: “It's such a high, heavy energy show. I mean people ask me all the time, I go, 'Hey, that was pretty good,' or 'That was real good.' But it's just measuring emotional highs. It's just, “Oh, that energy was incredible,' and I'll say it that way, as opposed to, 'This is better than. . .' — y'know what I mean?”