It's Only Rock'n Roll
Jagger summed up the weather by telling the radio audience from the middle stage that "we are in the middle of a football stadium, in the rain, under an umbrella, just to set the scene". Charlie's symbols blew over and the umbrella on the center stage almost blew off. The band was feeding off the rain. Instead of letting it put a damper on the night, they used it as a special effect, as if it were meant to be part of the show. There was a downpour during Gimmie Shelter leaving backing vocalist Lisa Fischer soaking wet during her center stage performance of that song. Speaking of center stage, Charlie came out from behind the drums to take a bow after being introduced. He is still getting the loudest ovation.
Keith was sporting a rastafarian hat and t-shirt with the colors of Jamaica, which took him into "Thief in the night". He told the crowd of that song, "It's a new song, but an old story". He followed it up with standard second song "I wanna hold you". The Stones ended all speculation as to whether or not they would play the small stage in the inclimate weather when the bridge fully extended out to the middle. From the small stage the crowd was treated to "Little Queenie", "The Last Time" and another pleasing rendition of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone".
The heaviest rain of the night fell during the shows only encore Brown Sugar. The web choice was back after being dropped at both Portland shows. "Memory Motel" won the vote and the band delievered a crisp version. "Ruby Tuesday" made her way back into the set. The interaction of the band on stage had a strong presence as they seemed to be in good spirits. The San Diego performance marked the last stadium stop for the Stones in North America. The bridge will now extend out to the rest of the world. One thing for sure, whether it's rain or shine, The Rolling Stones can still Flip The Switch.
The set list:
Anyway, the sound quality of the broadcast was not up to par in my view. I was listening on an older style dial tuning FM reciever so that could be it, but I don't think so. I am wondering what others who heard it on the radio thought of the sound quality? Westwood One sucks. There were many commercial interruptions, as well as a flood of CHEESY remarks from the morons who "covered" the concert. Why are all DJs total losers? Luckily I will be able to edit that all out when I make my CD!
I have checked the setlist from the first reviewer, and it looks like I heard all the songs over the radio. Good ole Westwood One must've done a gradual time shift as the concert went on, to fit in their lovely commercials. Little Queenie started immediately after Wanna Hold You, with no time whatsoever for a bridge to be extended. I guess the gradual shifting is better than missing some of the songs, but you'd think those greedy execs would've just packed all the commercials in while the introductions were going on.
I was psyched to finally record a live version of Memory Motel, as that one has been extremely elusive for me. I thought it was great. I didn't care much for Ruby Tuesday, as I thought the Steel Wheels versions were much better. I was disappointed they didn't play Already Over Me or Lowdown, as all the new stuff they played last night was also in the pay per view.
Like most avid fans, I have been starting to tire of the standards: SFTD, TD, HTW, SMU, JJF, and BS (no disrespect intended) HOWEVER, in this case, I must say, the versions of Tumblin' Dice, Honky Tonk Women, and Start Me Up delivered last night were actually kind of refreshing. They had a laid back, "we laugh at the world, we're the Stones, and we're hammering out these jams" kind of feel that kind of reminded me of the attitude from "Love You Live", although the tempo was very different. Anybody know what I mean? It's like the rain inspired this carefree attitude that came out in the music in a nice way.
One thing I definitely want to ask everyone about is, have y'all noticed that Bobby Keys is just NOT making it happen on this tour? I don't know if he is going through a stale uninspired phase that is probably inevitable for all great musicians, if he has some kind of personal problems lately, or if he is tired of playing with the Stones now and is just along for the ride. It's definitely a shame, because I think his playing for the Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge tours was a major force in the greatness. I wonder if the band notices this and talks about it at all?
Anyway, it was definitely worth staying up till 3:00 AM EST to listen to the concert, and I'm glad I heard about the broadcast here on IORR!!! I hope the Stones give us decades more great new music as well as great live versions of the more obscure classics. GOD BLESS IORR AND THE GREATEST ROCK n ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD, THE ROLLING STONES !!!!!
When Mick sang, "I was out in the rain" during "Out of Control," everyone cheered... "Gimme Shelter" was an appropriate song for the evening, and a brief shower fell as Lisa began her "Rape, murder..." bit. But the deluge really came during "Brown Sugar" and boo-hoo to all the wimps who left during that song. Mick and Keith were both resplendent in windbreakers, while Keith stripped down to his Rasta-colored vest as the band delivered a truly heartfelt performance of the old gem. We were soaked, they were soaked, it was a unifying experience. Unfortunately, the confetti shower was pretty ineffectual.
The show began at 8.45, and Mick strode on in a blue raincoat, fedora and Dr. Who-style scarf. He tempted the hand of fate after "Let's Spend the Night Together" by noting that the rain had held off. Seconds later, as Keith launched into "Flip the Switch" (by the way, this is the fastest song in the Stones' lineup, according to the tempo chart on the Stones' set list) the rain fell. If my memory serves me well, it affected only 3 or 4 songs in total.
Among the evening's selections, "Saint of Me" featured the videoclip on the big screen a la the late unlamented "Anybody Seen My Baby?" It shows the boys hanging out in some public toilets. "Memory Motel" is one of those tunes that sounds better if the delivery is ragged, and I believe Mick's lyrics were somewhat wayward. It was certainly worth the trip for the large LA contingent. Keith's efforts on this nugget got special applause. What drove Charlie to come out from behind his drums for the band intros is a major mystery. Keith dragged him to the front of the stage, but Charlie quickly scurried back to the sanctuary of his skins.
His "Amazing Flying Cymbols Routine" was the highlight of the b-stage section. Mick struggled with the umbrella as a windgust shook it violently. Like the previous reviewer, I'm getting tired of the "home stretch" songs. It's like an unthinking selection of their bombastic stadium hits, and gives the impression the band is simply coasting through on auto-pilot. Individually, each of the songs is terribly potent, but put them all together and they lose that power. How about separating them with 1 or 2 slower-paced oddities? "Start Me Up" seemed to spin out of control, and Mick uttered something unintelligible (to me) at the end of it.
The broadcast was tape-delayed for locals, and so I got to hear the last few songs as I sat in the traffic jam afterwards. Maybe it was my cheapo stereo, but the songs sounded foggy or seemed to lose their urgency as if the tape was playing just a bit too slow. The DJ's were indeed complete idiots. Before the broadcast began, they were boldly telling local listeners how San Diego was the last U.S. show, and the band would spend the week in San Diego before wrapping the tour in Mexico City on the 15th.
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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