It's Only Rock'n Roll
According to La Presse, North America's largest french language newspaper, the Rolling Stones came to Quebec City and forever put it on the world map (perhaps a little exaggerated, but perhaps not totally). After two date changes, a venue change and a long delay, they finally arrived to show the Quebecois and the rest of eastern Canada just what all the critics are talking about: The Bridges to Babylon Tour. Or, as I like to call it, the first stop on the Rolling Stones 1998 Canadian Tour (to be followed shortly by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver).
Debuting the small stage to be showcased next week at Madison Square Gardens, the Stones (and the crew) were a tad rusty after the elongated Christmas break, but none the less, it was still polished, technically superb and enormously well received.
The stage was not as first publicized, and placed in the centre of the rink. Instead, it spanned the complete width of the ice surface, but at one end. The seats directly behind the stage were not sold (for good reason explained later). The stage is relatively sparse, with a gold, brown and tan wooden floor, interspersed with lighting marks for the performers to stand on. There is a long, fairly wide runway above and behind. There are 12 stairs up to it on the left side (facing you) of the stage, with 9 steps up to the horn section's platform, and a further 6 stairs from there up to the ramp. The lighting is of typically Stones quality, meaning state-of-the art. Above and suspended from the ceiling are the speaker columns, a theatre-type Babyolonian bunting and two fairly large video monitors on the left and right side. Overall, it is quite a similar effect to the larger stadium stage, and brought lots of compliments from the crowd around me.
Satisfaction started off with a miscue - Mick's mike was not turned on. It drew a look from the other band members, and a slight mistep as they had to get back to the first lyric's accompanying riff. However, it was handled with aplomb and we were all quickly caught up in the magical aura and experience that seeing only the Stones can be.
After Let's Spend the Night Together (made memorable by Mick giving Ronnie a playful hug at its completion) and a fiercely attacked Flip the Switch, Keith began the opening riffs to Gimmie Shelter. Lisa was illuminated high and centre on the back ramp, shimmering in her cape and effocative of a high priestess about to begin a pagan ceromony. The song was easily one of the three best received by the crowd all night.
After Anybody Seen My Baby, we heard Saint of Me, which still has not been released as a single. However, many in the audience seemed to like it, as Mick and Ronnie alternatively shared the spotlight. Then, a few surprises. Bitch was incredibly driven by the band, appearing to be at a faster tempo that ever heard before. It probably wasn't, but the effect was not lost on the crowd. After its completion, everyone left the stage except for Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie, Darryl and Chuck. Mick said they were going to do something that they had not done live in quite some time. They then proceeded to perform a unique, very catchy version of Under My Thumb. "Tres cool" was all I could think of as the band performed it unlike any version that I have ever heard. That was definitely one for the CD-R!
The band went out to the small stage after Keith's interlude, and I was glad to see that they led it off with Little Queenie. It is one of my personal highlights of this tour and reiterates for me just why I started listening to them so many years ago. It's hot! The Last Time was marred by some bad feedback and loss of the mikes for some ten seconds at its beginning. The band recovered well though, and it was well received. Finally, Like a Rolling Stone was probably the second highlight of the evening, with the bright spots coming on from the main stage during the chorus, and the crowd sining along with great zeal.
The return to the main stage was marked by the last great highlight of the evening with Sympathy for the Devil. Bright red firepots illuminated behind the stage in the empty seats, Keith played the solo from the back ramp, and Mick gave it his all. It was astonishing in its power and impact.
After the normal fireworks starting off Jumping Jack Flash and the confetti being spewed from the ceiling at the start of Brown Sugar, the band left the arena. It was a short show - only 20 songs and just two hours in length. Hopefully, this will change on Friday in Toronto and Sunday in Montreal. Nevertheless, it was a unique opportunity to see the boys up close and personal, and the power of the crowd's voices and hollering were not lost on any of us. It was far louder (to me) than any stadium show that I have attended and it definitely added to the luster and special atmosphere of the evening. I only wish that I could see them again in such a similar venue!
The set list:
Plese note. The official Virgin site is listing 22 songs including OOC and YCAGWYW. That is wrong. They simply get the printed setlists, and they don't catch the real show, as they appear live. You can trust IORR...
What ever technology the Stones had for an opening did not work leaving Keith standing lost looking for help. Micks mike then does not work and the show is of to a bad start.They regroup but it just does not come togeather.The right TV screen is not working with a stripe through the middle of it and the sound blooms 6 or 7 numbers into the show.Intoductions are short and without emotion. Mick wants to be done.
Highlights did include Keith slashing and stomping to keep it togeather. Ronnie on SAINT and the to solo numbers by Keith with mick off stage. Massive feedback during the small stage portion leave Charlie and Chuck laughing and shaking their heads at the whole thing. Keith is yelling at Ronnie to F***** pick it up. An interesting side light was the underwear seen thrown at the small stage is provided by the band.They rush through the rest of the show with Micks voice gone and unable to be heard at all. It is missed.
As I said Im a big fan for years and felt this was my last chance to EVER see the boys. I was sad to have a great run end like this for me.Compared to the 2nd Foxboro show, Philly or best of all Atlanta, I give this show a C.We left a little sad like the light of day had just been seen for the first time in years.
La critique des m�dias �tant si �logieuse, j'ai bien peur que ce que j'ai � dire ne vienne que les confirmer. Tous les journaux font la mention de la forme explosive des membres, il est vrai de dire que Jagger fait grande figure athl�tique mais il serait faux de dire que Richards a la m�me prestance sur sc�ne. avec une paire de longue vue, moi et mon copain avons simultann�ment remarqu� que Richards avait peines et mis�res � mettre un pied devant l'autre, je formule cet opinion avait beaucoup de tristesse croyez-moi.Sans �tre � bout d'�ge, m.Richards se voit rattraper par les exc�s des bonnes choses de la vie. En ce qui � trait au spectacle, la simplicit� de la sc�ne et la remise en marche des musiciens apr�s trois semaines d'arr�t ont eu pour r�sultat une ambiance intime, un auditoire �nergique dont l'attention �tait dirig�e sur un Jagger perfectionniste (malgr� quelques difficult�s reli�es au son et au syncronisme)soucieux de performer et de "leader" l'ensemble des performeurs pr�sents sur sc�ne ( les autres membres du groupe ainsi que les accompagnateurs.). Lorsque l'on voit une telle performance, je dois avouer que l'on se sent privil�gi�. le choix des chansons quant � lui f�t bien optimis�, le contenu musical r�pondait aux attentes des gens pr�sents. On pouvait sentir la symbiose entre le public et les Stones pratiquement arriv�s au bout du parcours(en ce qui concerne les spectacles de grandes envergures). D'ailleurs, le choix de certaines chansons dont "the last time", vieux succ�s du d�but de leur carri�re et ressortit des boules � mites pourrait laisser croire que "ce pourrait �tre la derni�re fois", mais sait-on jamais.
Je ne sais pas si je suis la seule � avoir remarquer le petit c�t� r�tro du spectacle. Le tout avait un petit allure tr�s fifties: l'�clairage simple, le petit drum stardust de Charlie, certains costumes de sc�nes rappelant Buddy Holly, les choristes ( surtout Lisa Fischer) rappelant les belles ann�es o� les belles demoiselles agr�mentaient les arri�res sc�nes. Ce dernier point me donne l'occasion de souligner que ce style adopt� par les Stones depuis environ 25 ans sait faire diversion et est tr�s bien ma�tris�. Les amateurs du dimanche (pr�sents en grand nombre) ont sans doute remarqu� davantage les grandes "cannes" de Lisa Fischer que celles de Keith Richards.
Quelques mots en terminant pour vous dire que j'ai consid�r� le spectacle comme un tr�s bon divertissement. Il m'est apparu que les Stones voulait satisfaire le client (les 60$ du billet l'exigent m�me si on s'appelle les Stones) plut�t que de promouvoir les chansons de Bridges to Babylon.
PS. For the record, local language reports are highly welcome, even if I hope some of you do report in English as well. This will become more valid as the tour continues to other non-English spoken countries.
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