It's Only Rock'n Roll
It was great to hear Bitch and Let It Bleed in the set again. Out of Control is a fantastic live song.
Lisa Fisher is an integral part of the show. The audience applauds every time she is shown on the screen, and comments about her excellent voice are heard at every show. Lisa's interaction with every person on the stage adds to the show's excitement.
The cold night was forgotten by the crowd, who were too busy having a good time to be cold.
Start Time: 9:25 p.m.
End Time: 11:45 p.m.
The set list:
It worked and it seemed Mick and the rest of the band never looked back. Mick wasn't nearly as active as he was in previous shows, but what he lacked in activity he more than made up in his vocals. Maybe it was the oncoming flu or something, but he sang like he hadn't before on this tour. He added some extra vocals to almost every song.
Out of Control was a real high point with Mick playing the harmonica at the end next to Keith and the two of them locked eyes and kept up like that for a few moments letting the music build. Miss You, which I'm actually pretty tired of, was even better. Mick went into a falsetto after "Whats a matta wit you boy?" When Woody, who was playing right next to Keith, heard Mick sing like that, his eyes lit up and he started laughing. Keith looked over his shoulder at Mick with a huge smile and threw his head back and laughed to. It was really turning into a special show.
The small stage set was great with Let It Bleed coming back and a great version of You Got Me Rocking. Woody changed into a ski jacket because of the cold and didn't take it off the rest of the show. The usual run of songs from Sympathy to Brown Sugar had a little bit more energy than usual. Mick seemed to have that "sparkle" in his eyes that has been mentioned in previous IORR reviews. He also seemed to connect with the fans much more than usual, taking time out to slap hands. At the end of the show he spent quite a few moments pointing to people in the audince and clapping his hands to them.
It might have been cold, but what a night!
While musically the Stones were as good as ever, we were VERY disappointed with the sound system. We had seen them just over a week earlier at the Vet in Philly, and the sound and the total experience was just incredible. However, at JKC, for people in our area at least, there were SEVERE sound problems. You could not hear the guitars for most of the first half of the concert!!! The sound in general for the first half was not loud enough, you could easily hear people talking over the music. The bass was never strong enough either, throughout the entire concert. What happened?
It seemed like the Stones could tell there was something wrong from the beginning, we even thought they might stop the show during IORR. We are wondering if that's why they did LSTNT before Flip the Switch? Did they, or do they, know that something was terribly wrong for at least one large chunk of the stadium? I would be very interested to hear the experiences of others at the show, and to know if anyone connected with the Stones has acknowledged the problem or can explain what happened? It really was quite a let down, as you could see people's enthusiasm fading and they were looking at each other wondering why it "wasn't all there".
I have been both much closer and much further away for previous Stones shows, and the sound was always loud, strong and clear. In spite of the problem, Sister Morphine was absolutely incredible, even better than in Philly. That's one that usually takes a while to grow on people, but my wife LOVED it both times, and she's never even heard the studio version. Mick is singing better live than he EVER has before, and it really shines through on Sister.
The second Keith tune, "I Want to Hold You", is as good as ANY song they do with Mick. It's definitely lame though, that Keith never introduces Mick after Mick does the other intros, what IS up with that? It's pretty obvious they are all getting along great, so why no intro? While others have complained about ASMB, it was GREAT in Philly, but pretty dismal at JKC because without adequate guitar levels it was really empty. Gimme Shelter passed, but again, there seemed to be real problems with the sound, as Lisa's level kept going up and down, and there was a real lack of cutting guitar. Bitch and Star Star also suffered, as they are guitar intensive as well. The brass section did a pretty good job of carrying Bitch though.
We thought they REALLY screwed up the beginning of IORR, perhaps because of the sound problems? They are a TRUE live band, and I think it's kind of cool that they still mess up sometimes. Everything was REAL out of sync at the beginning of that one though!! The sound got pretty good from the small stage set and thereafter, although the guitars never did come through enough, especially for Sympathy and Brown Sugar. We did our best dancing to Little Queenie, Star Star, Start Me Up, and of course, Tumbling Dice. I'm glad they are playing that one later in the show for this tour, they used to play it too early IMHO.
My buddy Ed would have loved Let it Bleed from the small stage, but he was home in Philly, "working so hard, he's working for the comp-o-nee". While I love You Got Me Rocking, no version of it I've ever heard gets that main riff loud enough. It would be such a POWERFUL tune if they would just boost that up. Did anybody else notice Bobby's sax playing lacked the usual magic during Miss You? He seemed right on for Brown Sugar! Jumping Jack Flash was an incredible pounding frenzy, a total release of pure animal madness!!! They always do their best audience interactions during that one. And to think I used to hate that one live!
Anyway, don't get me wrong, an imperfect Stones show is still MUCH better than a perfect day at work, and we certainly don't regret going. All in all it was still pretty incredible, and we danced our asses off, but we really would like to know what happened, and if the band has any plans to keep such things from marring future shows. We have tickets for the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, and I sure hope the sound is better for that one. Please post this review so we can see if others had the same problem, or if our experience was unique. UNQUESTIONABLY THE GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!: THE ROLLING STONES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was even colder than Foxboro, 35 F, chilly winds. We were so disappointed! we were trying to calm down each other and decided trying to enjoy the stage design and looking forward to Europe next year. Sheryl Crow opened the show like in Foxboro. But the sound ... too less power, a mixture of sounds swaying around, sometimes a little louder when the wind was blowing from the front.
We hoped the Stones would turn up the volume, but no chance, the sound remained as bad as it was. We stepped down our block as far as possible. Fortunately there was no problem with the security. So we had a little better sight and took some photos. But i think the distance to the stage was still too far to see anything on these photos. As we were not captivated by the show we had time enough seeing what was happening around us. Most of the people had a good time and seemed te enjoy the show, maybe because so many of them were drunken.
After the show on our way back to our hotel room we found a great Radio Station: 98 Rock. They were playing the setlist as a review. As we turned on they were just playing "Gimme Shelter" and we said: Yeah, that's it! That is the sound we would have liked to hear in the stadium. But.... we didn't worry anymore. We made experiences that maybe will help us for the 98 shows: Be as close as possible to the stage and to the loudspeakers. If you are too much in the back or above you have the feeling beeing outside the stadium.
By the way, we have heard the soundcheck in the afternoon and could even see Ronnie. Charlie and Mick. They rehearsed "Under My Thumb". On this floor level, even heard and seen it through a small space of the entrance the sound was great. So what is the matter with the sound system? Could anybody tell us? Like newspapers wrote the show must have been great.
One last remark to the setlists of all the past shows: We are missing the ballads! (There are so great ones on the "Bridges To Babylon" album.) Such ones you can switch on the lighters and change the stadium into a great sea of lights. We are now in the airplane on our way from Stonesland back to Germany. I'm not able to sleep in an airplane. So I put om my earphones and played it loud: "Satisfaction, It's only Rock and Roll...." It's the Chicago setlist. But I'm dreaming of Foxboro..... Bye Stones, till the next goodbye!
However, I have to report my first disappointment. I travelled to the Washington concert with high expectations. I had seen them in the JFK stadium in 1994 and anticipated a similar performance this time round.
The new Jack Kent Cooke stadium is a lot bigger than JFK although with the big set it did not feel too overwhelming and Cheryl Crow coped well in the space. But within a few minutes of the Stones starting my heart sank. Something was wrong and although things did get better as the show progressed I had to conclude it was well below par for a Stones concert.
Firstly, as has already been reported by others on this Web site:
The sound was bad. I thought this might have been the location of our seats, high up and underneath another concrete seating platform (section 227 row 11 to be precise), although I note other people have reported similar experiences regarding the sound system.
They started terribly. Maybe it was the shock of how bad things started that ruined the rest of the concert for me. They certainly were playing a lot better after the first 2/3 songs and the rhythm was pounding; Darryl Jones really adds some weight to the Stones sound. In fact when I put aside my other concerns the playing for 3/4 of the show was as good as ever. So what else was wrong??
I think the following may explain it:
They looked tense throughout. I saw little of the typical laughing and casual behaviour normally displayed by the band. They just didn't seem to be having a good time. Ron seemed to have taken on Bill Wyman's static playing style. Overall the performance came across as clinical rather than relaxed and spontaneous, in other words it looked like the heart and sole was missing, just another set of songs being performed.
The video was 'so' clear and professional it made the show more of a theatrical experience. The video was rarely used to add a visual element to the music by way of animation (remember the spiky tongue last time round) but mainly to show cleverly edited shots of the band performing. This transformed the show from the stage to the video where one was obliged to watch a slickly edited version of what was happening. It really felt like one was watching a film.
The clarity of the video combined with the tense feeling on the stage gave me the impression that they were overly concerned about whether they could still perform at their age. This made me feel that they were struggling to perform at their age!! They began to look very old!!
The audience never warmed to them. In 1994 I remember the whole crowd uniting to shout "Keith, Keith, Keith" in a loud ritualistic chant. This time someone even asked one of my friends to stop smoking!!
The audience sat down during the slower numbers. I have never witnessed this at a Stones gig before and from reading the other reports this is happening at many of the other concerts.
The centre stage may have contributed to a more 'formal' atmosphere. Normally, the pitch is the focus of hard core fans fighting to get the close to the stage. This 'scrum' at the front, where it's hot, tense and 'alive' generates a lot of atmosphere and I am sure feedback for the band. Instead, the whole pitch area is seated with tight security to prevent people standing up or getting down from the stands. Of course this is necessary to protect the band out there on the small stage but at what price?
So, was it the poor sound, the luke warm audience or the Stones themselves; probably a bit of all three. I have only seen this one show on the present tour and I am keen to see another to satisfy my curiosity.
The good news is that one of the friends I was with went on to see the concerts in Oklahoma and Albuquerque and came back with rave reviews. Apparently, the show in Albuquerque, a small stadium with a good student crowd was particularly good and the atmosphere several times better.
I guess Washington was a bum deal......I am looking forward to Europe in 1998!!
Read all about the 1997 tour in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazine issue IORR 30 out Oct. 15, 1997.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1997 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe