The Rolling Stones Rock New Orleans Jazz Fest With Star Studded Guests

By Stu Kelly / May 3, 2024

After decades of anticipation, The Rolling Stones finally made their debut at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, delivering a performance that blended rock ‘n’ roll swagger with the soulful spirit of the Big Easy. The iconic band’s Thursday festival appearance marked a significant milestone in their storied career. It was met with enthusiastic cheers from fans eagerly awaiting this moment.

The Stones’ journey to Jazz Fest was not without its hurdles. Originally slated to perform at the festival in 2019, the band was forced to cancel due to Mick Jagger‘s heart surgery. A second opportunity arose in 2021, only to be dashed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the entire festival. But on this balmy evening in New Orleans, the stars aligned as The Rolling Stones took to the stage for a performance that will be etched in the annals of music history.

Drawing from their extensive catalog of hits, The Rolling Stones treated the audience to a setlist that spanned their illustrious career. While much of the repertoire mirrored their recent opening night performance at Houston’s NRG Stadium, notable additions and changes delighted fans. One such surprise was the inclusion of “Whole Wide World,” a track from their latest album, replacing “Mess It Up.”

But perhaps the most unforgettable moment of the night came when The Rolling Stones broke out “Let It Bleed” for the first time this year, inviting Zydeco musician Dwayne Dopsie to join them onstage. The collaboration added a distinctive Cajun flavor to the band’s classic sound, earning raucous applause from the crowd.

However, the pinnacle of the evening was the long-awaited duet between The Rolling Stones and Irma Thomas, the legendary Soul Queen of New Orleans. Precisely 60 years after both acts recorded Jerry Ragovoy‘s “Time Is on My Side,” they finally had the opportunity to perform the song together. Addressing the crowd, Jagger reminisced about hearing Thomas’s rendition on the radio in 1964, a moment that would launch the band’s ascent to fame in America.

“In 1964, which is a very long time ago, we heard this great song by this amazing singer on the radio,” Jagger told the crowd. “We recorded it, and it became our first kind of hit in America. The lady that did the song first, she’s the Soul Queen of New Orleans! I’d like to bring out on stage now to sing the song with us, here she is, Miss Irma Thomas!”

The duet was a testament to the enduring power of music to bridge generations and genres, as two icons shared the stage in a moment of pure musical magic.

As The Rolling Stones bid farewell to New Orleans, their journey continues with upcoming tour dates, including a stop at Stage Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on May 7, before wrapping up at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on July 17. But for the fans who witnessed their historic debut at Jazz Fest, the memory of this electrifying performance will linger on, a testament to the timeless allure of rock ‘n’ roll.

Watch fan-shot footage of The Stones performing with Thomas and backstage vocal warm-ups of “Dead Flowers” below. 

About the author

Stu Kelly