Shakedown in the Capital City - Rolling Stones Back On Track in Sacramento!
Who would of thought we'd be back in Sacramento twice in a year, exclaimed Keith Richards to the crowd after he was introduced by partner Mick Jagger during last nights Rolling Stones show. In a weird quirk of booking, The Rolling Stones triumphantly returned to Northern California, only a week after postponing a pair of San Jose gigs due to the Mick Jaggers illness. This show at The Arco Arena, home to the National Basketball Associations Sacramento Kings, was originally the first Capital City show booked and put on sale, while the show held here the previous week was added afterwards.
Northern California has long been a hotbed of Rolling Stones triumphs and disasters beginning with Keith Richards near electrocution at the groups 1966 Sacramento show, followed by the bands disastrous debacle at Altamont Motor Speedway in 1969. So it was certainly not without historical precedence that the Stones, who spent the better part of three weeks in San Francisco rehearsing for the No Security tour, would only perform one show in the Bay Area proper. This was a fact not lost on Northern Californian Rolling Stones freaks who braved the hellacious stormy weather to converge on the state capital to sate their palette on the 60s icons. And they were not to be disappointed.
Despite the fact that the Arco Arena show was sold out since November when tickets went on sale, the Will Call area near the Arco Arena box office was bustling with deals offering tickets for far less than face value, a godsend to fans turned off by the tours lofty ticket prices. Inside the arena, venders hawked all matter of Stones related paraphernalia from varsity jackets at $250 a pop to plate signed lithographs that fetched $100.00. These venders also were selling actual hand signed framed lithos for $1500 to $2000, not exactly chump change for the decidedly middle aged audience, some of whom forked over $250 bucks a ducat.
Compared to the Rolling Stones opening night in Oakland, the band played tight and assured from Keefs opening guitar riffs of Jumpin Jack Flash, Jagger bore no signs whatsoever of the illness which plagued him just a few days earlier. Jagger prowled the stage in black shades and a black leather jacket, prancing and shaking like a man 30 years younger.
The Rolling Stones mined their 60s catalog to reprise Live with Me, Ruby Tuesday, Paint It Black, and Honky Tonk Woman. Honky Tonk Woman, was featured early in the shows first half, unlike during the bands opening show in Oakland, where it was performed on the smaller stage. Despite the criticisms, the crowd never fails to erupt when Keith nuzzles up to keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and takes the piano solo himself during Honky Tonk Woman.
Richards was all over the place too. His solos were full of his awesome power, stage presence and posturing which make him one of the most imitated rock stars ever. Ruby Tuesday was a complete surprise and came in the slot that the band had played Moonlight Mile, and Memory Motel. in previous shows. The Stones continued to add more songs during this evening as Dead Flowers, and When The Whip Comes Down, (played on the small stage), also made their No Security debuts. Other changes from opening night included the bands scrapping of the cage that came down during Out of Control, Keiths deleting I Got The Silver, in favor of Thief in The Night, and the addition of Tumblin Dice that was performed when the band returned to the main stage.
Arco Arena is one of the smaller venues on this tour. So when the band came out through the crowd to play on the smaller stage in the rear of the area floor, they provided the patrons in the back an intimate club like setting. Old chestnuts like Route 66, When The Whip Come Down, and a roadhouse rendition of Midnight Rambler, that could have come straight off of Get Yer Ya Yas, ignited a crowd frenzy. The short set took on the aura of a smoky bar, as a foggy trail of sweet smelling Northern California grown marijuana enveloped the stage in a surreal haze as Jagger wailed on his harmonica. The final main stage songs: Tumblin Dice, Its Only Rock n Roll, Start Me Up, and Brown Sugar, were as exciting as the cyclone ride at Coney Island with the band celebrating its treasured song canon with stunning results. The encore of Sympathy For The Devil, contained all the spooky voodoo imagery and power that made the original version so enduring.
The Arco show was superior to opening night in almost every way, however, Northern California Rolling Stones freaks left the Arena asking themselves whether this would be the final shows, because, as of this writing, the band had not confirmed that they will reschedule the two San Jose dates. At the rate the band is playing and getting better, if the Rolling Stones do reschedule at the end of the tour as some suspect, the final shows of the 1999 No Security tour will go down as one of the best the legendary band has ever performed.
It was a great show. The Rolling Stones have got to be the greatest rock'n roll band in the world. I can't think of anyone else who is. I had a second deck seat behind the stage. It turned out to be the best seat in the house. There were speakers set up facing the second deck. So I was 20 feet from two banks of speakers. They nearly split my head open. I could see the stage between the equipment hanging from the rafters and the deck. Mick would turn to us every ten minutes and rile us up. I couldn't see Charlie, but I could hear him loud and clear.
It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 36 - May 1999 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe