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It's Only Rock'n Roll

Foro Sol, a.k.a.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Mexico City, Mexico
Saturday Feb. 7, 1998

Review by Ed Beaver

It was a great and warm Saturday, with daytime temperature like 25-30 degrees C, really the kind of temperature that makes it a joy to see the Stones in a stadium. By the evening it got a bit chilly, but still quite ok.

The warm-up band was a local one. They actually did their own version of She's A Rainbow, and knowing that song was in the lead as the web choice, I thought I would get it twice for the night. When the Stones did it one stage, Mick commented about having heard it before on the stage tonight...

The set was pretty standard, very similar to the San Diego show. The surprise was Anybody Seen My Baby, which has been out of the set in the USA concerts since before Christmas, shortly after Saint Of Me came into the set. But Mexico got Anybody Seen My Baby, and they liked it! Mick and Bernard shouted out We came to rock Mexico during the rap part of the song.

Before "Miss You" Mick asked the crowd if they could sing, and immediately we got a loud and clear Mexico, Mexico, Mexico from the crowd. Later on, when introducing Like A Rolling Stone, Mick said "it was written for us by our favorite harmonica player...".

I had a seat next to the center stage walkway. On their way out they used the bridge, but on their way back I did my best to shake hands witn the boys... And you would not beileve it, but I was so lucky I actually made contact with both Charlie, Ronnie and Keith. As Mick approached, I knew I had little chance of shaking hands with him, as he only do one handshake, closer to the stage, always being so concentrated on dancing on his way back during "Sympathy...".

We got 21 songs, and I had a great time. Keith is really impressing me, working so hard on the lead all the time. The way he opens up Honky Tonk Women, having his guitar just hanging there, while he cranks it up, is simply brilliant. And he is doing lots of great solo playing too. Not to forget Ronnie giving She's A Rainbow a fine touch as well! Monday brings another show for the Mexican fans...

Start time :  9:35
End time   : 11:45

The set list:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Let's Spend The Night Together
  3. Flip The Switch
  4. Gimme Shelter
  5. Anybody Seen My Baby
  6. Bitch
  7. Saint Of Me
  8. Out Of Control
  9. She's A Rainbow (web choice)
  10. Miss You
    -- Introductions --
  11. Thief In The Night (Keith)
  12. Wanna Hold You (Keith)
  13. Little Queenie (center stage)
  14. The Last Time (center stage)
  15. Like a Rolling Stone (center stage)
  16. Sympathy For The Devil
  17. Tumbling Dice
  18. Honky Tonk Women
  19. Start Me Up
  20. Jumping Jack Flash
  21. Brown Sugar (encore)

Review by Carlos Uranga Netzker

The Stones arrived on Thursday night in M�xico City. A TV station said that 160 people were coming with them. The newspapers were full of this monsterlike data that surround this supershow: 500 tons of equipment, 200 people working on the show, 250 thousand watts of sound, etc. The Stones were obviously protected by a lot of bodyguards, that made it almost impossible to reach them. The hotel they are staying in, the "Four Seasons" at Paseo de la Reforma (one of our most beautiful avenues) was crowded, but you couldn�t get in there unless you were looking for someone specific. The band, they said, asked for total privacy.

Then, there were stories about the delay they had with the stage buildup, due to some trucks missing on route from the border with the U.S. It is interesting to note, that in M�xico City alone, a lot of trucks are stolen with all kinds of merchandise every day !!!!! However, the production staff of the Stones announced they could handle the situation on time, which in fact happened.

Saturday finally arrived. Traffic was not as heavy during this day as in other weekends. Thursday the 5th, was Constitution Day in our country, so many people took Friday off as well and went out of the city for this long weekend. It took me less than half an hour to get to the venue from my house, south of the city. And as you can expect, rock radio stations were broadcasting Stones music during the week, informing people on how to get there more easily, etc.

The show opener was a local band called EL TRI. It may not be worthy for most of you international readers to get a full review of their part of the show, but I would like to make some comments, due to the importance this band has as a link to the whole rock movement that started during the sixties. At the end of the sixties, we had a band called THREE SOULS IN MY MIND, that finally became EL TRI. They really represent the mexican rock music movement throughout time, because they had to deal with the official banning on rock music from the start of the seventies until the start of the nineties. They were censored by all means, no record deals, no concerts in big and important places, no media coverage. They really survived all of that, and I am proud that almost thirty years later, they got the place they deserve in our rock music history. Their music is basically rhythm and blues oriented, which links them to the Stones themselves, Muddy Waters, etc. But what made them really different and unique, was their atittude toward life itself, they rescued in their lyrics the essence of the difficulties most young people have to suffer in our urban jungle, they are still a garage band, they have kept in touch with the masses. In the end their success should be measured on all the big effort they have made to stay alive, no matter what the circumstances. They are still true rock�n�rollers. Congratulations. They made even an encore tonight, which in a sense is important, if you compare the total lack of interest people have for bigger bands like Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews, etc. just to mention a few that had the difficult task to open for the Rolling Stones.

Now to the Stones show. It was three years ago when they played here, at the same place. This time however, only two shows were scheduled, as compared to four in 1995. Economic diffficulties make it almost impossible for the people to attend the shows on one hand. It is sometimes more important to meet your most basic needs, and purchasing power has diminished dramatically since our last financial crisis at the start of 1995, which brought unemployment, more crime in all senses, wage raises below inflation. However, I also think that there has been a lot of overexposure of some bands, like the Stones themselves. M�xico�s international rock culture (live events), started really 8 years ago, and people become throughout time very selective on what they choose to see. Pricing of tickets in such concerts is really high, compared to the US for example.

M�xico was the first stop of the Stones in the current tour, outside an english spoken culture (let�s be fair, Canada has french as well). I was surprised on the amount of spanish Mick Jagger can handle as compared to his last appearance. He goes beyond saying "muchas gracias" during this shows. During the small stage part of the show, he even mentioned he got "mierda en los zapatos" (shit on my shoes), which made it funny for most people in the venue.

I had the opportunity to see the Stones in Fort Worth, some months ago. As compared to that show, I see the band has gained a lot of confidence in playing their new songs, and that technically speaking, they are doing great. However, I personally think that this first show was really an average performance for them. In some songs they even missed some chords, lyrics, etc. This went maybe unnoticeable for most of the audience, as we were certainly more impressed on Mick Jagger�s physical appearance, his several clothing changes, and obviously, the surprises the show gives you at peak times, like the explosions, the fire, etc.

Keith Richards made a remarkable appearance on his part. He is really a strong personality, he got the support from the audience when he said he was back with all "his brothers and sisters". People understood this as a solidarity act and commitment to life and people themselves; it is finally more important the human side than the business side, and Keith is rich spiritually more than anything else. He played "Thief in the Night", followed by "I Wanna Hold You". In between he mentioned he liked rock�n�roll (that is why he followed with I Wanna Hold You rocking the place), but the "other stuff too" (referring to Thief in the Night).

The web choice was "She�s a Rainbow". I don�t know how many people voted for this in M�xico, because Internet users is not huge in our country (it is obviously growing). Anyway, it was a good choice, considering the need of mexicans to get feed by the Stones with their most famous songs. I personally voted for Love in Vain, but I knew it would be difficult to hear it. I missed the brass section, they seemed to me not very confident playing it, it was too fast, like if they wanted to finish as quick as possible, the first words were omitted by Jagger. EL TRI played the piano intro of this song during their performance, so Mick made a reference on having heard some of it before their appearance.

The best part I think was the small center stage one. Someone next to me said, that not even our fire departments can afford such luxurious accordeon like ladders. People sang along with Mick their Dylan�s version of "Like a Rolling Stone", which brought a big emotion to the evening. When I heard "The Last Time" (they didn�t do it in Fort Worth) I really was praying this would not be the last time for the Stones. I don�t know if they played this particular song since the sixities in any tour at all until Bridges to Babylon tour. It brought to my mind the superstitious denial of Robert Plant for singing "Stairway to Heaven", because of the bad luck it brought to their band�s history. Anyway, I hope this is not an indication of the Stones dissapearance. You sometimes read between lines things that are not happening.

The last third of the show is really a knockout. The Stones don�t leave you with any breath at all. And even if they have played this songs in almost every tour, you can�t deny their right to play their hits, and give them to the people as part of rock�s classic history. I would be dissapointed not to hear Brown Sugar, Start Me Up or Tumbling Dice. I�d rather hear them play Can�t you hear me Knocking, Continental Drift, etc. But for a monster show like this it is not the case. For this reason, they have smaller venues, like the ones they recently had in New York�s Madison Square Garden for example.

We had five songs of the new record. They have more confidence in this songs as compared to the ones they played from Voodoo Lounge or even Steel Wheels. The younger audiences get hotter with this material, especially ASMB and most importantly OUT OF CONTROL. This song works really great, with this cardiac variations you get from the whispering part on one hand, to the crazy Jagger�s movements during the song climax. Saint of Me was also good, but less emotional.

We still have one concert to go in M�xico on Monday. I will be there of course. I hope they change a little bit the set, and include Sister Morphine, Already Over Me (it even has some reference to M�xico in the lyrics), I Just Wanna Make Love to you, All Down the Line. Mick and Keith: if you read this, do it please!!!!

Read all about the Bridges To Babylon tour in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazine issue IORR 31 out Jan, 1998.

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