It's Only Rock'n Roll
The show was just as great as last night. Mick said they wanted to this as the best one, as it was their last at MSG. But I can't tell what's better of these shows. All three - just brilliant. Keith said How Are You, then he continued something How Would I Know, I'm off to Hawaii tomorrow.
Any surprises? Just take a look at the set list for tonight. The songs that are new or special are in bold. Usually there are one, two or may be three. Tonight it was eight!!! And that was even if they dropped the web choice (Star Star) tonight too (didn't fit in, too strong set already).
I am exhausted, that's all I can say. I would rather have five nights at the Garden than 50 shows in stadiums. I wouldn't mind both, of course, but this is probably the last tour with stadiums, at least I hope so.
The garden shows are supposed to be released as some sort of an official live album. They have plenty of goodies to pick from. Just make sure it's a double, or even a quadruple...
PS. The band set list said "without Bob Dylan", so they really had plans for having him up on stage. But it didn't work out. And to the glamour part of this review: The Spice Girls were there too, all dress up, I was told. They arrived may be one hour before the show, lots of fuzz in section five where they were seated. I stayed with my great spot in section six, and wouldn't trade a front row center stage position for the Spice Girls, no way!
The set list:
The concert gods must have been smiling on me, as I was lucky to have a great seat, in Section 61, that I bought a week ago at the Garden box office. It was just off to the side, directly below one of the two video screens, about 12 rows back, and I had a great view of the proceedings. Jagger told the crowd at the beginning that they were going to make this show the best of the three, but since I was at all three I would say that the Friday show was the best. Nevertheless, the Saturday show still packed a wallop.
The lads performed five songs they did not do on Wednesday or Friday. Six songs were new material off the new album. After the powerful "Gimme Shelter," which was played early on and brought the house down, the band launched a three-song combo of stuff they did not do on Wednesday or Friday. First came "When the Whip Comes Down," one of my favorites from the "Some Girls" album. Mick was on guitar for that one, and while it wasn't the best rendition of that song I have ever heard, I was still pleased to see it performed live. Next came the new song "Might As Well Get Juiced," with Mick on keyboards. I must say that one was a little boring, and I was surprised that they did that one. But still it rounded out a treat for true Stones fans, because the band gave a debut performance for a song at each of the three Garden shows. Next came "All Down the Line," a classic rocker from the "Exile on Main Street" album.
I really like the new song "Out of Control," but I do not think it comes from the heart. I no not believe for a second that Mick, during his whole career, was ever out of control. There has never been anyone more IN control than Jagger.
Band introductions followed "Miss You," and then Keef took center stage. His first number was "Thief in the Night," which may also have been a debut performance, I am not sure. On "You Don't Have to Mean It," Ronnie played keyboards.
The first song on the small center stage was the Chuck Berry classic "Little Queenie," and it was the best song of the whole show, with excellent guitar work by Keith. (This one better be on the obligatory live album, guys.) Then they did a slow version of the Willie Dixon classic "I Just Want to Make Love to You," a song that the band recorded way back when. And the crowd pleaser "Like a Rolling Stone" closed out the small center stage set. (Mick acknowledged the other concert next door, and he said something like, "This song was written for us by Bob Dylan back in 1967.") The small center stage set is really a brilliant idea. They should do more songs, perhaps even most of the show, from the small stage.
For "Sympathy for the Devil," they followed the runway back up front to the main stage. This one seemed to rock more than the previous two nights. Then came the rousing finale. A guy sitting two seats to my left ripped off his shirt and danced and cheered wildly through the whole second half of the show.
After the whole thing ended, the band, especially Mick, looked tired. He didn't take a final run to the back runway during "Brown Sugar." I would be tired too if I had just rocked like that for two and a half hours almost nonstop. I was exhausted after just watching.
A few other notes from the final Garden show:
Keith began the show with his usual bravado. Satisfaction was the impetus for what would be 2 and 1/2 hours of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. The second selection, Let's Spend the Night Together, was a phenomal way to bring Lisa Fischer and crew onto the stage. Flip the Switch was next. Then we were entertained with Gimme Shelter and the voluptious Lisa Fischer. Oooooooh baby, she is flat out bigtime!!!!! This was a time to carry on! When the Whip Comes Down continued the momentum. I was juiced at this point and was ecstatic when the Stones premiered Might As Well Get Juiced after giving us a good whipping.
All Down the Line was next and a great surprise that had everybody dancing in the aisles. Bridges to Babylon was the emphasis for the next two songs as the Stones gave us a little Saint of Me and then asked us to get Out of Control. Being the true loyalists that we are, it was easy to lose control for these super songs. By far, these two songs are the highlights of the BABYLON selections. Next was Miss You. This song gave us one of the greatest visual experiences ever seen in concert. Ronnie and Keith spent about two minutes sitting in front of Charlie smoking cigarettes as if they were in a lounge in another part of the world. It was awesome to watch grown children enjoying themselves so much. I wish to be so lucky at the age of 55. I wish to be so lucky NOW!!!!! The intoductions were next! Keith bowing to Charlie is what this is all about.
Keith was next and gave us two selections from Bridges to Babylon. He was especially sharp during You Don't Have to Mean It.
It was now center stage time! Little Queenie, a tribute to Muddy Waters, and Like a Rolling Stone kept us juiced. The center stage is just another example of how the Rolling Stones continue to set the standard for others that try to keep pace.
Sympathy for the Devil began a block of five songs that included Tumbling Dice, Honky Tonk Women, Start Me Up, and Jumping Jack Flash. The encores of You Can't Always Get What You Want and Brown Sugar ended a perfect evening of music.
This was my seventh Rolling Stones concert, and I can honestly say that it can't get any better than NYC and MSG. This is a rare moment in one's life that will never be forgotten. I also believe that Lisa Fischer needs to be thanked for adding energy and sexuality to what is the most explosive show in the world. THANKS LISA! She is truly hot!!!!
Time is on my side and the side of the Rolling Stones as I know that they will continue to set the standard as we approach the new millenium! I would just like to thank my BOYZ (the Stones)!!!!!!
The excitement of the crowd fed the band, as it always does, and after spectacular versions of "LSTNT", "Flip The Switch" & "Shelter", Mick said: "This is our last night in Madison Square Garden & we're gonna make sure it's the BEST." he then proceeded to. "Whip" was announced & Mick, Keith & Woody gathered in a huddle in front of Charlie, looking like the world's oldest & best garage band. They then launched unsteadily but ferociously into an amphetamine rampage through this great NYC song which was played about 4 times faster than the album. Just great!! Then "Al Down The Line" - there's no mention of the cybervote, I thought, because they're gonna play THE WHOLE DAMN LIST!! well, not quite, but THEN they played "Juiced"!!! Mick played the synth and Keith, a vocal opponent of the album version, stood in the back and unreeled yards of barbwire riffs throughout. It was outstanding!! Only complaint: no harp. It's so good on the album. At the end of the song Mick seemed to be laughing about the synth stuff (which worked!!Really well!!) and Keith greeted him with a hug and a laugh. Great to see that at that particular moment- that song seemed a sore spot between the Glimmer Twins.
I won't give this song by song: suffice to say that the ones we heard before were done BETTER THAN EVER (Mick's harp in "Out of Control" was in hyperspace!) The stage often resembled a mad dance party with everyone on stage running, dancing, and having a great time. Darry was doing some VERY nice dancing by the end of the evening.
As usual, during the intros, Charlie's ovation just wouldn't stop and was still going on when Keith was introduced. The cheers changed to a chant of "Keef! Keef! Keeeeeeef!" Keith's set was pristine. I really thought "Thief" wouldn't work, and sat down to listen. I soon stood back up to cheer this PERFECT rendition. "Ah, well, I wanted to try it out on some friends," he said, causing all 18,000 of his friends to cheer. Then he did" You Don't Have To Mean It", again with every horn lick, backing vocal, and guitar part perfect. A highlight! Blondie Chaplin played guitar on both of Keef's tunes.
The second stage set was (I know this is getting monotonous) GREAT!!!!!!! Keith's guitar in "Little Queenie" was archetypical Chuck Berry filth, and when the band began pounding out a blues riff I thought for a second they were doing "Midnight Rambler" which would have killed me. Of course when I realized it was Muddy Waters' classic "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" I did nearly have a coronary. The first verse was a bit mixed up; they were obviously feeling their way into this seldom-played song from their musical infancy. By the second verse everyone was locked in tight and the room shook with the power of what we've often dreamed of here at Stonesworld: The Boys playin' The Blues. Pure, deep, powerful blues. The asshole behind me who was yelling "play old stuff!" all night (you'd think ticket prices would keep these jerks out, but there's always ONE, isn't there?) looked blank (he probably thought Foghat wrote the song!). "Old enough for ya?" I asked. "That was from 1954!!"
As reported elsewhere, Mick had been chatting with Dylan backstage during Keith's set. I'm sure Bob was invited, but...no dice. "He says to tell you all hello!" said Mick. I couldn't help wondering what Bob's reaction would be to hearing MSG rattle to the rafters with an entire audience singing his song. Would he be proud, or would he wonder why crowds don't greet his renditions as avidly? Anyway, I would've loved to see him onstage, but his absence didn't detract from the fact that THIS WAS THE BEST SHOW OF THE B2B TOUR AND PERHAPS THE STONES' CAREER!!!!!
As the band ran like champion racehorces through the hoary old inevitables I again marvelled at the fact that they can still generate millions of volts of electricity with these songs they've played FOREVER, and that I enjoy them MORE every time I hear them.
When the Stones took their last bow the crowd went absolutely insane. This was my tenth show, and I hope I get to see ten more, but I really can't imagine this one being surpassed.
I particularly liked the song selection this time. Loved hearing some songs rarely played these days like 'All Down the Line' and 'When the Whip Comes Down'. Was surprised at 'Might as Well Get Juiced' but liked it nonetheless. 'Gimme Shelter' was dynamite....Lisa.......you have the voice from heaven and I loved watching you Sat. night. It was clear from the outset that everyone onstage was having a great time. Having a showstopping song like this in position number 4 was only foretelling of better things yet to come.
'Saint' and 'OOC' again are hi-lites for me......The sound was crystal clear where I was sitting (unlike Wed. night's show which was a little bass-heavy but still a visually exciting show). Thought I almost heard 'Midnight Rambler' and my heart skipped a beat....but it was 'Miss You'...a great concert song done as well as ever......but how about a little 'Rambler' instead?
Keith made a wise choice with his 2 songs 'Thief in the Night' and 'You don't Have to Mean It'. Liked both of them a lot. (Much better than 'How Can I stop' which was played Wed. night).
The 3 songs on the center stage were once again stellar.....'Little Queenie' should be played every night...that is one great concert song and so animated. 'Meanwhile, I was still thinkin'.........'. It didn't matter that Dylan didn't show up for 'Like A Rolling Stone'....the crowd sang the song loud enough to make up for it anyway.
And of course the closing set starting with Sympathy.......geez....does it get any better than this...I don't think so. I would have liked to see 'Star Star which was going to be the web choice..but then....'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.
If I could get a song added to the regular playlist..it would be from Voodoo Lounge...either 'Love is Strong', 'I Go Wild' or 'Sparks Will Fly'.
One of the things I really liked about these shows was the stage was rather bare..a far cry from the stadium gigs. These shows were all about the music and performance..and the Stones came shining through. There is no better show around and once again the Stones have shown that they truly are 'The Greatest Rock N Roll Band in the World'!
As if seeing the world's greatest rock & roll band in an intimate (by Stones standards) setting wasn't enough of a thrill the band made sure to deliver plenty of songs that had not been previously performed not only during their stay at The Garden but also a number of tunes that hadn't been performed ever!!
After running through the standard first four numbers Satisfaction, LSNT, Flip The Switch and a powerful and moving version of Gimme Shelter things started to get REALLY interesting. Here are some highlights:
When The Whip Comes Down previosly played maybe twice prior to tonight on the current tour. Performed very loose. They don't quite have a grip on this one yet. Interesting version though, much faster paced that the Some Girls version the fast, three attack - guitar riffing sounded closer to Lies than the heavy guitar crunch of Whip. Still, great to see the Stones transformed back into a bar band right before our eyes!
Might As Well Get Juiced the debut performance! Each night at MSG they've managed to play at least 2 tracks off of Bridges to Babylon that hadn't been performed previously. Juiced was SO COOL! It featured Mick at center stage on a synthesizer with Keith and Woody on dueling slide guitar. The video on the two jumbo screens showed an effect similar to when they did 2,000 Light Years during Steel Wheels. The pyschadelic images worked perfectly with the songs hypnotic feel. Charlie kicked the beat amazingly by using almost exclusively his symbols.
All Down The Line 1st time performed on Babylon Tour. Woody decided to show up on this one and rocked. His slide playing was right on. When he concentrates on what he's doing instead of waving to the crowd, he can be great. Otherwise, Keith has seemed to be mostly carrying the show. All Down The Line also featured a great arrangement from the horn section that really kicked in at the end. This would be a perfect song to segue with Bitch.
Miss You extensive jam with everyone taking a solo. I noticed Keef, Ronnie and Bernard sharing a smoke during this one. Keith later mumbled something about "weed" and "not having to work tomorrow" during his set.
Theif In The Night 1st time played. Really cool to see Keith and the band feel their way through this. It took 2 takes to get the intro going. And then they worked over the intro into a long steady groove until Keith felt comfortable enough with the way the song was going to begin the vocals. Then things really took off! This song just seemed to keep building up momentum. With pulsing chants of "come on, come on, like a thief now" Great groove. Really funky feel to it. Afterwards, Keith joked about "its nice to try it out in front of some friends!" Keith seemed very jovial and spirited tonight.
You Don't Have to Mean It Time for Jah Keef to lay down the reggae! This was the 6th and final Babylon number. It featured Woody on keyboards and Blondie on guitar. Jah Keef really transformed the city into "Jamaica on the Hudson"
Little Queenie the Chuck Berry classic was back as the intro at center stage replacing IORR. The song really took off as Keith was in "the zone". Keith licks burried his hero and the band indulged him with an extended solos and longer version.
I Just Want To Make Love To You 1st time played in the U.S.!!! It was time for some blues. They performed this as a true slow-burning blues number. Much different from the fast paced style of their very first album. It started out with just Mick mumbling out random lines. Then Charlie and Keith kicking off the slow groove. The song concluded with Mick assuming the persona of Muddy Waters and calling out "Don't hurt me. Don't hurt me, baby. Don't hurt me, child."
Like A Rolling Stone Is he here? Is he showing up? We wondered .... Mick started out this final number from the center stage by mentioning that "their good friend was playing next door tonight." All the members seemed to turn back to the main stage to see if he was coming. Woody gestured for him. But no dice. After the show I caught up with legendary slide guitarist Warren Haynes (of Gov't Mule, formerly with the Allman Bros.) who told me that Bob was there standing at the side of the stage but didn't feel comfortable coming out. Mr. Dylan's funny like that. Haynes also told me that there were two set lists one if Dylan showed and one if he didn't show. Well, guess which one we got. I can only imagine what might of been on the "Dylan Shows Up" list!!!
Sympathy for the Devil the red and yellow lights set the perfect mood. But the band sets the real fire! Mick and the backing vocalists have developed a call and response toward the end of this during the "tell me baby" "whats my name" part. Interesting ending as the band seemed to be out of synch with each other. It came to a semi stop then started up again. This actually sounded really great. And as it started to get going again Mick shouted "Stop - NOW"
You Can't Always Get What You Want the 1st of 2 encores. Looking down on the smaller, less ornate stage, during this song in particular, I was transcended back into the 1981 tour. Yes, The Stones were back performing indoors, to a smaller audience, playing loose and free. Letting the chips fall where they may. The departure from the 60,000 capacity football stadium to the 18,000 seat Garden truly made it feel like I was seeing them in the El Mocombo or The Marque Club. Yes, for 3 amazing nights the Stones were once again The Greatest Bar Band and MSG was their bar. Grateful to have been there.
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 1997 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe