The Rolling Stones had three weeks of rest after the St. Louis show on Dec. 12, and should have been ready to give the Quebec fans a fresh start. The Quebec show had been moved from Oct 10, into Jan 13/14, then finally to Jan 5. But Mick had caught laryngitis, and had a big problem with his voice. Out Of Control had to be left out from the set (the only place they did not play this song so far!), and also You cant Always get What You Want had to be left out, stripping the set down to 20 songs. But the Stones gave the Quebec fans their best still.
Then the Syracuse and Toronto shows had to be cancelled, due to Micks sore throat. Just as Mick was fit for fight, a terrible ice storm took all the power out of Montreal city and the area, making it impossible to do a show there (well, the Stones had their own generators, but why do a show when nobody can come due to a weather crisis, no trains etc?
The much talked about arena shows at the Madison Square Garden in New York City finally happened on Jan. 14, 16 and 17. Playing in an 18,000 capacity warm and nice indoor arena with hard core fans from all over America, and even some from Europe, Japan, South America etc, really made some unique shows. The first night was nervous, still great. The 2nd show was perfect. The 3rd was again close to perfect. An open, simple stage setup, and many new songs played. MSG was simply Stones heaven!
Then the Stones left the US East Coast for Hawaii. On Jan 21 they did a secret concert on the Kona Island, specially hired in by Pepsi Co. to make their centennial special. Two days later they did the first of the two stadium shows in Honolulu, Hawaii. They did Angie for the first and only time in North America for the tour. This was the first time they went to Hawaii since 1973, so no wonder they got lots and lots of great press!
Then it was back to the west coast of Canada, and Vancouver. While they did two shows in 1994, at the finish of the tour, this time they did only one show. They played Ruby Tuesday among others, and kept the great mood from Hawaii.
The Oregon Stones fans were sort of lucky when Eugene didn't want to have the Stones at their stadium (as it would take a practice or two away from their schedule...). So when the Stones put together a few Arena shows for the last part of their tour, Portland got their Arena show at the Rose Garden. And their appetite for tickets made a 2nd night possible shortly after. So this was just like MSG over again, two great arena size shows, with only 18,000 people in the crowd each night. Simply amazing!
San Diego in Southern California was next. Wind and rain made it a hell of a show, and if you have seen the Stones in heavy rain, it means a great show! Charlies "Amazing Flying Cymbols Routine" was the highlight of the b-stage section, as the wind took his cymbols. Mick struggled with the umbrella as a windgust shook it violently. The set was down to 20 songs, but they did Memory Motel plus Ruby Tuesday, and it was all broadcasted on FM radio.
Mexico City Feb. 7 and 9 was next. They played the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (a.k.a. Foro Sol), a car racing stadium setup. Anybody Seen My Baby was back, as this was new territory for the tour, first time outside USA & Canada.
The final major shows for USA for this part of the tour was to be two more arena size shows at The Summit a.k.a. The Compaq Center, in Houston, Texas. This time it was a crowd as small as 12,000 people each night, and like MSG and Portland, they continued to prove that the arena setup is simply the best way of seeing the Stones, except for clubs.
Through the arena shows in Jan. and Feb. the Stones had proved that they can do the same amount of money in a smaller venue. The fans had to pay more, in the price range of $50 - $300, but most fans seemed to prefer the arena concerts if they could choose. The sell-out of the added Chicago arena show in April in 20 minutes surely proved that.
The final show for the first part of the North American tour was the most exciting one - at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, in a club size ballroom holding 1,700 people. It was a hot place. The stage was so small, and there were so many VIPs in the crowd, it really felt strange. The tickets had been sold through a weired system of lottery and gambling, and ticket prices were $300 and $500.
Following the successful Hard Rock show, the Stones had about three weeks off before they left for Japan, and six shows there by mid March. First they did 4 shows at the Tokyo Dome. Only the 2nd show on Saturday March 14 were sold out (about 50,000 people), while the three other nights had more like 36,000 people, as few people wanted to pay the cost of being on the upper ring in the Dome, probably due to bad acoustics.
A Dome is really not made for music, and certainly there is a limit to price and performance, as Japan is getting more used to seeing the Stones... In Osaka they did two shows, both said to be sold out, before they left for Argentina just as IORR is going to print.
It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 32 - March 1998 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe