Crossfire doesn't whitewash controversy, misbehavior or, as Jagger describes the 1972 U.S. tour, the band's "ill-disciplined hedonistic binge." At one point, Jagger is glimpsed snorting cocaine from a knife blade.
He resisted censoring such scenes "because it's all so long ago, and there aren't any great secrets," says Jagger, known for ferociously guarding his private life. "You can't let it all hang out there. I can't, anyway. You have to fend things off to some extent. When an inevitable invasion takes you by surprise, it is upsetting, and you learn from that mistake. I have to cope with it better."
AFTER THE REVOLUTION
On July 12, 1962, the "Rollin' Stones" played their first gig at the Marquee Club in London. Since then, they've performed before more people than any band in history, graduating from club brawls and bad-boy headlines to full stadiums, high-tech productions and box office bonanzas.
"It's stupid to make out that you're rebellious your whole life," Jagger says. "People in the French Revolution wanted it to go forever, but other people got fed up with it. You move on to the post-revolution, which is what we did. It doesn't mean you get comfortable and end up fat in front of the fire with a big cigar. I still like to get out there and bust it up.
"I am the same person," he says. "I'm doing all the same songs, hopefully with the same aplomb and enthusiasm. You can't be a lead singer without having a certain forceful ego. You have to have a ton of ego or you'll have a nervous breakdown. It's not for shy people."
Rehearsals have unearthed rare nuggets "and an awful lot of different songs," Jagger says, declining specifics. "The last song we rehearsed is one I did when I was 16."
So what can fans in Newark and London expect?
"The band fantastically, completely and utterly different from what it's ever been," Jagger jokes. "It's the Rolling Stones on stage. We do things we just wrote and things we did in 1963."
A recent pair of small Paris club shows "felt like being back home," Richards says. "We've been away too long. We know we're ready. Now it's just a matter of polishing the chrome. We want to oil the new ones, and we're really digging deep through the repertoire and may be playing stuff that nobody's heard for a long time. Everyone's in top form, and I'm really looking forward to laying it out again. It's been a long layoff."
Getting the Stones rolling again entailed repairing his bond with Jagger, in particular apologizing for barbs in his 2010 memoir, Life. Richards says reports of strain are "terribly overblown" and that the pair's shared sense of humor incorporates trading insults.
He adds: "It's no big deal. I can understand how it's taken out of context by people who don't know us, but as far and Mick and I are concerned, we're rocking."
That's intensified buzz about a 2013 tour. The 2007-09 Bigger Bang global trek, which grossed $558 million, was history's biggest outing until U2's 360 2009-11 marathon pulled in $736 million. Few question the Stones' ability to eclipse that peak, should they take the plunge.
STILL BURNING HOT
The band hasn't lost its muscle or pull, says Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone contributing editor, noting, "Onstage, the Rolling Stones long ago earned their reputation as the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world. But whatever the size of the venue, the Stones still play like a band in a club on a Saturday night, ripping, scratching and tearing at their bottomless catalog of hits as if they still had everything to prove. That's why fans turn out to see them in such huge numbers. They're legends who in performance burn as hot as ever."
A 2013 tour has yet to be confirmed.
"One thing at a time, baby," Richards cautions. "It's taken me a year or two to get it this far. I do know that once this juggernaut gets rolling, it's hard to stop. Without being able to promise anything, I have a feeling there's definitely going to be something going next year."
A farewell tour? Jagger's similarly fuzzy about the band's exit.
"All good things will come to an end, children, but I can't foresee when that will be," he says.
Meantime, "the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world" isn't ready to relinquish its title.
"I haven't seen anyone else dare to take it from us," Richards says. "Remember, we've never said that. Other people have called us that. The greatest rock 'n' roll is probably played by a different band in a different part of the world every night. I'm very happy people think that of us. It's something to live up to."
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