From the opening chords of a raw Jumping Jack Flash on a very barren stage, it was clear this was not going to be like any of the Stones shows over the past 10 years. This was rock n roll at its finest. This was a band taking chances - no stage gimmicks, no hoopla, no easy way out. A simple stage - 10 towers with minimal lights backed a stage that was at one end of the arena and a smaller stage below the opposite end. The band moved and created the show, Jagger reminded me more of Iggy Pop than of the prancing idol he has become - never stopped moving.
Familiar songs were treated to new garage like playing; JJFlash, Live with me and Respectable got things going. Then the real treats began.. Moonlight Mile - a tough song to play live. Never been done. Jagger played the opening chords and it reminded me of Mick Taylor, who basically wrote the song with him. How great to pull this one out. The band came in slowly as Jagger stretched to hit the notes that were safe on record but dangerous live. The song had its bumps, but the passion rose above it and made it come to life. Charlie played with soft mallets and Chuck had a nice string section off the keyboards. This has always been one of my favorites and hearing for the first time live made it even more special. They really came together by the ending....
Then a pounding Some Girls which had Jagger beating the chords out while releasing some angst about "some girls want all my money, I don't ever want it back" - got the feeling had something to get off his chest ;-) Baybeeee - this is going places.... Shine a light - beautiful - a gospel flavored rocker that brings the house down.
Did I mention there was nothing going on with the stage? The biggest surprise, aside from the set list, was the fact that nothing was banking on the stage - no rests or video fillers, no props, nothing. Aside from Jagger, there were practically no colors worn by the band, all were in black. (Ronnie did have a yellow shirt). All back up singers and horns were in black so you almost didn't notice them - this was all about the Stones. You got me rocking, Undercover, Paint it black - stripped down and powerful. Charlie was hot tonight.
Then we get some more special ones - Keith alone on with a slide guitar starts You Got The Silver - building it to the songs finale with dual slides between he and Ronnie. He follows with Before they make me run - bigger and with horns.
They all get together for Out of control - the first and only stage prop shows up; a cage with Jagger singing wildly in it - it actually was the only part of the show that didn't really work for me - he can't be caged - lose it or lift it to ceiling where it came from.... The small stage had Route 66, I just want to make love to you and Honky Tonk Woman....
Saint of me got them back to the big stage and we started into the home stretch; Start Me Up, IORR and Brown Sugar - again, all were raw and without the flashpods and hoopla of recent tours. Then for the encore we get an amazing Midnight Rambler and Sympathy for the Devil. Midnight Rambler was one of the nights best, great harp by Mick & Keith kept the stops right on target - powerful and to the point. Sympathy brought the house down.
No wires, no gimmicks, no safety net, No Security. Amazing.
It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 36 - May 1999 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe