BOSTON – With the iconic opening riff of "Start Me Up," the Rolling Stones launched their latest North American tour at Fenway Park, a fitting venue and fitting opening song for the aging but irrepressible rockers.
"It's great to be back in Boston," lead singer Mick Jagger (search) told the crowd. "Boston is a champion city. The Patriots won the Super Bowl. And the Red Sox are the world champions of baseball."
Jagger, 62, appeared as spry as ever, strutting across the giant stage stretching from left to right field.
The Stones followed "Start Me Up" with "You Got Me Rocking," "Shattered" and "Tumbling Dice," before playing "Rough Justice," a song from their upcoming album, "A Bigger Bang."
The band took the stage around 8:25 p.m. and played a 22-song set that lasted about two hours.
An unidentified 20-year-old woman was hospitalized with broken bones after she fell more than 35 feet from the rafters above the ballpark's right-field bleachers.
Witnesses described watching her climb into the rafters and stay there for some time. Firefighters were dispatched but they were unable to reach the woman before she fell.
The woman, reportedly from Connecticut, was in stable condition Monday at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (search) with a broken wrist and two broken ankles, police said.
It's been 43 years since the Stones' founding and three years since they launched their "Forty Licks" world tour — which many mistakenly believed would be their last. That tour also began in Boston, with stops at the FleetCenter, Orpheum Theater and Gillette Stadium.
The visit to Fenway was a first for Jagger, Keith Richards (search) and the crew. But it is the third straight year in which the park has hosted rock concerts, with the Stones following Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffet into the hallowed baseball shrine.
Hours before the Stones took the stage, fans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the band's trademark lips and tongue logo were already roaming Yawkey Way. Some scooped up Stones memorabilia at souvenir stores that normally sell Red Sox gear.
Richard Tucker, of Chatham, who brought his wife, 19-year-old son and his 15-year-old daughter, said his children grew up listening to the Stones.
"I tease them about geezer rock and now they're seeing it themselves," he said.
For Shawn Murphy, 40, of New Bedford, it was the 17th Rolling Stones concert.
"They're icons," Murphy said. "The energy level at a Stones concert is unlike any other concert."
It's been eight years since the band released its last studio album, "Bridges to Babylon." That will change on Sept. 6, when "A Bigger Bang" hits U.S. stores. With 16 tracks, it's the band's longest studio album since the 18-song "Exile on Main Street" in 1972.
"A Bigger Bang" will get plenty of exposure on the planned 37-city, 42-show tour. The album has a stripped-down, back-to-basics sound, returning the band to its bluesy roots.
One song, "Sweet Neo-Con," is generating noise for its overt political tone. While controversy is hardly new for the Stones, the band has only sporadically dabbled in politics in its long history.
The tour may well test the band's stamina. The three remaining original Stones, Jagger, Richards and drummer Charlie Watts (search), are 62, 61 and 64 respectively. Guitarist Ron Wood (search), now going on 30 years touring with the band, is the baby of the bunch at 58.
Sixty-something or not, the Stones will clearly have little trouble selling tickets despite prices ranging up to $400 in some venues. At Fenway, they performed on a gargantuan stage, reportedly one of the biggest in rock and roll history. According to a publicist, it took about 70 trucks to bring it piece by piece from Toronto, where the band rehearsed for the tour.
With the Stones rocking inside, police officers armed with noise meters monitored noise levels on the streets surrounding Fenway Park. The move was in deference to residents of the Fenway neighborhood, who have been largely supportive of rock concerts there but wary of the noise and parking impact.
But the noise apparently did not reach the agree-upon maximum of 70 decibels and concert organizers were not asked by the city to turn down the volume.
About a dozen California nurses also stood outside protesting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) with signs reading: "Sticky Fingers for corrupt corporate cash," a reference to the classic 1971 Stones album, "Sticky Fingers."
The Republican governor had a fundraiser planned during the concert, with guests contributing $100,000 apiece invited to watch with Schwarzenegger from a luxury box.