It's Only Rock'n Roll
Well, all the years of hard work may have paid off, because I just got this message that a ticket was waiting for me in Vegas. I did not sleep much through the night. Knowing how difficult it was to get these tickets, about the casino gamble, about Mr Lucky and all of that, I was still worried this was all in a dream.
But sure the ticket was there, and as I picked it up at 12am on the day, I was so excited I could not sit still. I had to walk the Strip (the street that covers all of Las Vegas) twice to get time closer to showtime at 8pm. At the same time, I was so worried about all my friends who also so desperately wanted a ticket. One scalper asked for $1500. Another friend of mine got in at $800 and was lucky. But most had to stay outside - too sad - because the show was such a great one!
As it is 2am in the morning I am kinda exhausted, but I will still give you some brief memories. By looking at the setlist, it looks almost like any of the usual shows, except the order of the songs are not the same. Well, so much for the similarity. This show was simply outstanding!
Keith opened with Satisfaction as usual. Then they rocked into You Got Me Rocking. Ronnie's slide was excellent. Charlie kept the beat strong and load. The sound was so crisp and clear. Much of the crowd was VIP and not ready to rock'n roll, but enopugh fans in the crowd was crazy about the show.
Flip The Switch was great too. Gimme Shelter. Keith was leaning on the wall to our right side by Darryl, really enjoying himself. Mick came to visit him. Then Ronnie and Keith was duelling. Lisa. Great song. Even greater tonight.
Saint Of Me was the best version I have heard ever. Ronnie did an outstanding lead guitar. Just the one I have been dreaming to hear for a long time. The wheaping guitar lics is still ringing in my ears. Thanks Ronnie. PLease do it again and again and again...
Already Over Me. A strong version. But many people around me is sitting down. Slow song, sure, but still... The version was long and more bluesy than the previous I've heard.
I Just Wanne Make Love To You. Starts off just like the first riffs of Little Red Rooster. People are still sitting down. I am enjoying every bit of this blues song. A slow, bluesy and great song.
Out Of Control. It never gets to the heights it did in places like MSG in NY, but Mick worked a lot on it. Some in the crown was still sitting down, even during Mick's harmonica solo, which normally makes the biggest ovation.
Little Queenie rocked like crazy. So fast version! Mick had kept the silver jacket from OOC, but stripped it off soon after. Darryl came dancing, and in fact he did it several times during the show. Never seen him so mobile before.
Then it was Miss You. The crowd knew the song, and did a great sing a long. Presentations. Mick rushed through most parts of the presentation, as he felt it wasn't the time for such. He barely mentined the brass section with Bobby Keys, and Darryl barely had any applause at all before Mick went on. He was in a hurry...
Keith did Thief In The Night. Ronnie's daughter was with Lisa and Bernard on backing vocals. Blondie did an acoustic guitar, and Pierre, who once wrote this song was on organ with Chuck. Everybody was sitting down like usual.
Wanna Hold You rocked it up. Again a great solo by Ronnie. Then a great version of It's Only Rock'n Roll.
Keith is picking up a leopard jacket. As he is working on putting it on, and doing his guitar, Mick is rushing to Keith and gives him a real bump, with a great smile. Keith gives Mick the same smile, and these great buddies sure can still make jokes!
Tumbling Dice was faster than I've heard it ever. Honky Tonk Women was one of the highlights of the show. Sheryl Crow, who had did her own show at the Joint the night before, and who had been doing her warmup show tonight from 8:15 to 9pm, did a wanderful duet with Mick, singing, dancing, really a wonderful piece that should have been on the pay per view show!
First Cheryl is out on stage with a hat, probably one Mick brought her from cowboy land Houston. Then she breaks in on lead vocals on HTM after Mick. Keith is to the right as seen from us, and is giving Sheryl a father's look, a look of appreciation and maturity, while he is busy with his own guitar playing, knowing the vocals are now in the hands on not one, but two great singers. Then Mick and Sheryl is dancing. Mick is chasing Sheryl, and she takes shelter by Daryl. Then they change hat. Sheryl is back with Mick, dancing a close and intimate dance. What a great song, and what a great duet, not just a duet, but a perfect performance of Mick and Sheryl, backed with the rest of the boys!
Start Me Up got the soles that was still lost a bit rocking. Fast and great. Jumping Jack Flash great too. Then it was goodnight and goodbye all too soon.
Like A Rolling Stones was so good as an encore. I thought, may be it can stand on it's own, without Brown Sugar? But then Keith walked to the front of the stage and did the Brown Sugar intro. Then it was over for good.
The show was 1 hour 50, but felt like half an hour. The crowd was not as great as the Brixton crowd, but the Stones worked hard on it. During Brown Sugar Mick thought the crowd needed an extra wake-up, and threw a cup of water.
The sound was amazingy crisp and clear. The stage was so small that it crammed Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie and the rest of the band together nicely. To cut a long story short: The show at The Joint in The Hard Rock Hotel was everything I had been dreaming about!
The Stones are kissing America goodbye with this show #49 for a while going to Japan. Then they will be back in April. So if you live in Japan, South America, the American East Coast or in Europe, you have plenty of great performances to look forward to!
PS. The Las Vegas show was packed with celebrities. I don't know them and I don't care, but I hope they had a great time as well. Is some of you do know all these celebrities names, I would be glad to know, and tell. So long!
Start time : 9:43 End time : 11:33
The set list:
From where I was standing the sound was very favored towards Keith, but other said that further back it was more even. It was fine with me though b/c all I heard was loud Keith all night!!
A truly bam-boom, thundering experience
This was a small club show. Other than some annoying strobe lights there were no special lighting effects, no props, no bridge out in to the audience, just a spared down stripped band playing some kick ass rock and roll. Satisfaction began with no blue lights or background music, just a disembodied voice intoning "Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome to The Joint, The Rolling Stones" and Keith walking out of the darkness hitting some of the most famous notes we've all ever heard.
The stage was simply not large enough to contain the band last night, and right from the start they pushed the envelope. Keith was literally leaning against the outside wall as Ronnie played intently and Mick was left to dance with his hands. He is the only man I know who can make a limp wrist look sexy. The reports from Houston were accurate; Jagger's voice was firm, strong and powerful all show.
You Got Me Rockin' and Flip The Switch saw Ronnie working hard. He burned a great slide solo in YGMR and was clearly there to play, not goof off. I was disappointed that I seemed to be the only person in sight who pumped his fist for the "I cased the joint and I know it well" line in Flip. Our seats were SRO so we were relegated to the back, and there was lots of movement and commotion going around us all show; it was a small distraction.
It was during Gimmee Shelter that the tension and anxiety drained out of me and the show elevated to another level. As in New York I danced this number entirely with my eyes closed. I had chills during the opening, the hairs on my arms were standing. Every time I thought the music reached a plateau another instrument or another singer would cut in and raise the song to a higher plain. I wrote "astral consciousness" in my pad; it was at this point of the show that all that had gone before no longer mattered and the music took over, took me away.
The sound the entire show was as clear and crisp as you could ever hope for. There was some feedback during Keith's second solo number, why does that always seem to happen? The were some guitar dropouts later, but the players seemed to know and when they were back they roared with a vengeance.
"I do believe in miracles" was a line Debbie and I had quoted to each other frequently in the weeks following MSG as we plotted how we were going to get in to this show. When Mick sang it during Saint of Me we exchanged looks. It seemed a miracle we were there, the entire show was a miracle, I felt I was living a dream. The word "bliss" appears for the first time in my pad here.
It was in Already Over Me (thank you!) that I first noticed Keith and Mick vying for the front of the stage. The intro was a long, slow buildup and later there was some astonishing guitar work by Keith. His eyes were open as he played, but they appeared unseeing, as if he was staring inside. He looked sharp in a lilac shirt open to the waist and tight black pants. Liz and Ego, I absorbed more Keith last night than ever before, first because of you two, later because his guitar work was so overpowering. I tried to get a "Keith Keith" chant going several times to no avail.
There was no small stage, the entire show was on a small stage. After Keith stepped to the front on AOM Jagger took it back at the start of I Just Want to Make Love To You. He worked the audience from one side of the stage to the other, but Keith loves the blues and soon the two were dueling, Mick's evil laugh being challenged by Keith's bitchin' guitar. The effect was each of them worked harder to outdo the other and the audience was treated to an awesome contest of stagemanship.
There was a video screen on either side of the stage and the camera operators and the mixer clearly know how to best present rock and roll. There would be long, steady shots on Keith's hands during a solo. It was tv so good at times it was mesmerizing.
The contest between Mick and Keith continued into Out of Control. As soon as Mick put on the silver coat I wondered if the stage would be big enough for the end of the song; it was barely large enough for the start. As Mick stepped up Keith walked directly in front of him with a swagger, cutting Jagger off. Later Keith elbowed Mick out of his way to get to the lip of the stage for his solo which he played from his knees to the folks in the left front, then got up and added some leg kicks. When Mick began the harp solo he used his head to push Keith back. In their one upsmanship they were each trying to outdo the other and the crowd was the winner.
I should add that it all seemed good natured, not a feud. In the stadium shows, and even the MSG shows I saw, the stage is so large that they can avoid running into each other. The stage at The Joint is deep but narrow, and when you bring out Lisa, Blondie and Bernard what available space left is minimal. Nevertheless, both Mick and Keith were clearly vying to be out front.
The stage was not large enough for Mick to do his dance at the end of OOC, but it was plenty big enough during Little Queenie, which followed and he took advantage of it. Meanwhile Keith blistered the guitar work, I was shouting out at the top of my lungs "Go go go!" not only during the chorus but during the last solo. In my pad I wrote "WOW!!" This was one of several songs that had me delirious over Keith's playing.
"If it's good, she'll admit it!" Several times during the show waves of emotion would sweep over me, the realization that I was so fortunate to see the Stones in such a venue, the sound was so good and they were playing so well. The first rolled across me here and I was overwhelmed with joy.
Ronnie was tremendously animated during Miss You. Keith, Bernard and Ronnie had a smoke in front of Charlie's kit once again, Keith, when he played, held the guitar neck straight up like he was playing a sitar. Ronnie turned in a nice guitar solo and for the first time since the early numbers seemed to have any of the spotlight. Of course with the way Mick and Keith had been acting it would have been difficult to get any.
The band was introduced, Keith got on his knees and bowed with both arms over his head to Charlie. He then introduced a "new song about an old story" and did Thief In The Night. Keith was so self-assured and confident all show long. He had a cocky smile and delivered an "ah ha" chuckle with a grin before he got going. I had not seen them do Thief before and another wave of rapture rolled over me here and I found I was shaking. "How complete it is." It was nice to watch Keith as at the MSG shows this was where we were making our way to the small stage. Thief was one of the highlights of the show for me, it was unexpectedly wonderful. Hold On by comparison was, well, there.
I didn't even miss Sympathy last night. At this point in the show Debbie decided to try to get closer, but I had room to dance so stayed and as soon as she was gone found a partner with the date of the guy next to me. She was dressed like Dorothea in the Wizard of Oz with a checkered dress and pigtails. We made quite a sight, what with me in my loud Hawaiian shirt. The band was great as they launched into Only Rock and Roll, and for a few minutes I felt like I was at a fraternity house costume party on Halloween, only the band was the Rolling Stones.
Another wave of delight washed across me when they started Tumblin' Dice. It was about here that I knew, I absolutely knew that I had died and gone to heaven. I remember watching Charlie during the 'You got to roll me" chorus, thinking how much fun he looked like he was having. Keith was relaxed and confident during his solo at the end, laughing as Mick danced like a horny boy scout.
During Honky Tonk Woman Dorothea and I were still going strong at the back but we had nothing on Mick and Sheryl Crow onstage. Mick called her out, and she sang the second verse, making one slight change, "He blew my nose and then he blew my mind!" She had on a pair of tight leather pants and she and Mick danced after all the verses as what can only be described as mating right there on stage. I thought of Shirley and how entirely appropriate is my latest adopted sig.
I blissed right through Start Me Up. Jumpin Jack Flash, it's a gas. At the start the rhythm section just was churning away, later Keith ripped out a solo and Mick was all over the stage, a manic energizer bunny gone berserk. I thought of Shirley again, if HTW is hers then JJF is mine. Now I need to figure out how. The final wave of joy spread through me as I wondered if I dare say this was the best ever. Not just the song but the entire show.
While the band was off stage before the encore I thought how totally and completely satisfied I was. The joy that pervaded me had me shaking once again, and I thought of Ego and the sheer rapture that had just proceeded. The encore, LARS and BS, were just that for me, a final chance to watch and observe, but the real show had been the preceding 17 songs. I had achieved Nirvana.
In the casino after I couldn't stop grinning. I got a beer, found Debbie, Craig and Mike and slumped into a chair, delirious, drained and delighted. There amidst the slot machines I finally looked to the hand stamp on my right wrist they'd applied as we'd entered. In bold black letters was stamped "GO GO."
Read all about the Bridges To Babylon tour in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazine issue IORR 31 out Jan, 1998.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1998 -
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