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. . . BUT STONES BUILD STEAM AS WORLD TOUR BEGINS

SHARE . . . BUT STONES BUILD STEAM AS WORLD TOUR BEGINS

The middle-aged Rolling Stones proved time was on their side Monday, swaggering and rocking with a muscular, energetic sound as they launched their world tour.

Led by 51-year-old singer Mick Jagger, the Stones belted out hit songs ranging from the 1960s to material fresh off of their latest album, "Voodoo Lounge."The group, which is touring the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Europe, performed such rock 'n' roll classics as "Satisfaction" and "Honky Tonk Women."

Surrounded by a sea of young and old fans sporting T-shirts and buttons with the Stones' sexy lips-and-tongue logo, the British band played almost nonstop for over two hours at Washington's RFK Memorial Stadium.

Jagger, flanked by fellow 50-something bandmates Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, laid to rest any notion that the Rolling Stones, affectionately known as "The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band," were getting too old.

Jagger, a grandfather who is older than President Clinton, made full use of the 56-foot-long stage, doing his famous cocky strut while guitarist Richards roamed around with a lit cigarette dangling from his lips.

The stage was erected in the shape of a locust with steel "petals" flanking both ends. It also featured elaborate lighting and pyrotechnics that spewed flames and fireworks that added an impressive glow to the darkened stadium.

With the aid of TelePrompters scrolling the lyrics, Jagger sang tunes from the band's latest album such as "You Got Me Rocking" and "Sparks Will Fly." Their new material was met with as much enthusiasm from the sell-out crowd as their old hits did.

Though he didn't need to stir up the already excited crowd, Jagger skipped, twisted and dipped from one end of the stage to the other, leading the audience in a jumping, hand-clapping session.

"You're always nervous the first night," joked Mick Jagger after four blistering songs into the opening set. "But you can't be a virgin forever."

While the Stones have been playing the same material for years, the band somehow made it seem fresh.

Most of the crowd was on its feet all night from the youthful abandon of "All Down The Line" to the grungy cheekiness "Honky Tonk Woman" to the power-chording of "Start Me Up."

At encore time, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was extended by three or four minutes into an extended jam featuring Richards' ker-chang-ker-chang chords.

Conspicuously absent was long-time bassist Bill Wyman, who retired from the Stones last year and was replaced by Darryl Jones.