It's Only Rock'n Roll
The Sport Hall is the home of the Prague Ice Hockey team Sparta Prague. It's a nice hall with a low roof. The acoustics are excellent, due to the low roof above the ice rink, where people were standing, packed way tighter than I've seen at any other show. And the roof was so low and narrow, that they could not fit all of the rather small upper section of the golden arena stage decoration; it was split and put on the sides of some steel.
The warm-up band was The Corrs Great venue with a great warm-up band. They played their famous irish folk-oriented music with a great rock punch. The sound was so loud, that my ears was screaming for protection. But I had none... The Corrs played for almost an hour, starting shortly after 8pm. They really warmed up well, and it was exciting to see this band, made up by family members playing the electric violin, vocals and flute, drums and guitars, piano, plus additional bass aand lead giutar. Probably the best Stones warm-up I've seen.
The Corrs finished by 9:05pm, and the packed floor couldn't go anywhere, already being all warmed up, ready to rock'n roll. So now we had to wait half an hour for the Stones. By 9:42pm the lights went out. Charlie climbed his drum kit, Keith came walking up front, cranked up Satisfaction, and the show was on. No fireworks, no big bang, no video screen, just the pure and great Rolling Stones, on their arena stage, where I just love to see them.
Keith did a magnificent work on Satisfaction. He came walking out to the side of the stage, playing to us at the righthand side. Not that it was so far away anyway, but both Keith and Mick used all parts of the stage a lot, making it even more intimate for us all.
Saint Of Me was very popular. For a newcomer song it was great to see such a good reception, as it was even more popular than the previos oldies Let's Spend The Night Together and Gimme Shelter. By the way, Lisa did some outstanding singing on Gimme Shelter tonight, really put her soul and extra energy in it, but it was not as popural among the average crowd.
Paint It Black was taking down the place! People rocked and danced. The most popular song for the show, and thank you very much for keeping this song in the set more or less permanently as per now! Saint Of Me cruised on the excitement from Paint It Black, and people were singing along and really enjoying the show. It took just a few dance steps and a bit of pointing at the crowd from Mick, to build the Saint Of Me number two performance, made by the crowd and by the Stones, now backing us!
Out Of Control was keeping the great level of excitement. Keith came over and played some magnificent guitar riffs, Mick jumped around like this was the final song of the show, and his harmonica playing was superb, loud and clear, as Keith were dancing arond his feet, playing his guitar, dueling his harmonica playing.
After Out Of Control both Mick, the rest of the band, as well as the crowd, needed a break. Time to slow down. They did Memory Motel. That was when I realized this was to be my dream set! Mick were standing way up front, on his own, not on the electric piano, and no Dave Matthews or other guest vocalists around. Just Mick and his microphone. I missed the electric piano, but it was the same old Memory Motel with a different flavour. Then Mick left the stage in a hurry, and Keith walked up front to Mick's microphone, to do his verses. Sure we loved it. Keith smiled to us all, as he were singing his part. Just as he finished his first verse, he happened to loose the microphone to the floor. No problem. He just smiled sweetly, no nerve, while Mick immediately took over, did Keith's second part, smiling to each others. Then Keith walked back to his position next to Charlie for the rest of the song. It's such a delightment to see these great songs work so well, even if spontaneous things happen. No playback, no problems, no nerves. Just great music and love delivered from the band on the stage and to the crowd, and back again. As Memory Motel finished, Keith walked over to Mick, choke his hand, thanking him for a great version of a great song.
Miss You use to be long and a bit boring to me. But Ronnie made it great. He did his solo part, as he were enjoying the small stage, walking slowly while playing solo, first to his own left side, then to the front, then to the right, up by Bobby and the horn section, then down again and across the stage. All the time as the main spotlight followed him. Mick were rushing from left to right, making sure about "is there anybody out here?", joking, pointing at us up front, saying "not you, but the other one", talking in some odd Czech language at times, and working hard on the singing and our excitement.
Keith did my favorite You Don't Have To Mean It and the usual Wanna Hold You. Then they walked down to the small stage, no bridge, no light show, no big noice, just walking down there. They did the usual ones wrapped in with a bluesy I Just Want To Make Love To You. Then Mick talked about president Havel, said he was sorry he could not be here tonight, and wished him a speedy recovery, before they jumped into Like A Rolling Stone.
The rest of the show was keeping on in the same intense, loud and great level. It was the perfect set for me, so it's hard to point at any weak points. May be they could have done You Can't Always Get What You Want, but the show had lasted for two hours and twenty minutes already, and Keith just loves to walk out on the encore just like he opens the show. After the show I met friends from Australia, Japan, and all parts of Europe. That was when I realized this was like a pilgrime place, as fans jumped cars, trains, flights and all kinds of transportation to get to see this arena show. And as you walk out from an arena show, all high on the great experience, it's so easy to say "who needs the stadium shows, this is it". Sure they are great. But they are so few, and they are so hard and expensive to get by. So I am still glad they do the stadium shows.
Now it's still possible to see this great show in the scaled down arena size, as they play in the Globe in Stockhom on the 8th of September. And if you live in Berlin, you will get the opportunity too, at the Waldbühne. So even if this tour had some "start me up" problems in the beginning, they will kiss us all goodbye in a great way, a way that fits the greatest rock'n roll band on the earth.
Start time: 21:45 End time : 24:00
The set list:
Everything was like our friend said, but..."Little Queene" was the best ever version including 11 shows that I have seen around the world (this was the 11th show for me in Bridges to Babylon tour and the 5th Little Queene: "Prague"); Even not in 1969 with Mick Taylor in the guitar, Little Queene was so good, may be at that time was more bluesy-darker but not so powerfull-energic-rock & roller, Mick did not expect the end of the song yet, but the band finished it, and Mick stopped with a great old-rocker-improvisation. That most be mentioned.Thks.
The show was in a sport hall with a maximum capacity of a little over 12,000 in "normal" circomstances. It was the first "small" indoor gig in Europe this tour. When we arrived at the sport hall at about 17.00 hours, there were people in line for the entrance, but not as many as we expected. And there was a real cool athmosphere. No pushing or things like that. Everyone was just sitting on the fences or walking around and having a beer or eating a hotdog or so. Here we met Ernst from Vienna again.
The (only) gate opened at 18.30 and people walked in very relaxed. As we had seating tickets for this show (I bought them via Internet and we were told that the floor tickets were sold out; in the city we found out that there were enough tickets available) we did not go in right away. We bought a nice T-shirt with "Praha, August 22" on the back and then we passed the security. As a "tourist" I had a rucksack with Anny's camera (!), a waterbottle and some other stuff with me. But it wouldn't have been a problem getting in a gun on wheels... ;-)
Inside we went to look for our seats. They were pretty good. Lower ring, right side of the stage, just in front of the VIP lounge. After that we walked around, bought ourselves a beer and as I had noticed that the security inside was as good as they were outside, we tried to reach the floor. After the second attempt we were in. We got a nice spot at the center stage, Ronnies side. Here I met some old friends and Luc, the former chairman of the Belgium Stones Fanclub and we had a nice chat.
The support act, an Irish girl group called The Corrs, opened a little after 8 p.m. They played very nice - a kind of Irish folk music - but way too long, untill after 9 'o clock. When The Stones started at 9.45 p.m. the crowd started to move forward and it got pretty hot in the hall. We were very unlucky to have two extremely tall guys between us and the Stones so that we couldn't see much of the show in front of us. We agreed to stay there specially for the center stage set and after that we would take our original seats.
It was an incredible experience to see the Stones in a venue this size. It reminded me of the shows in the seventies. The stage was completely different from the huge stadium stage. The next day (when I finally met William Nash - nice talking to you!) I heard that it was mostly the same stage as used in the Madison Square Garden. There were no video screens and there was no bridge (the Stones walked over the catwalk to the center stage).
It was a very good show. And the sound was really good. Better than the (indoor) Arena shows in Amsterdam. The Stones played very good, although Keith looked a bit as if he was somewhere else with his mind. He woke up during Memory Motel, where he partly missed his first chorus.
Standard setlist at the beginning of the show. And I must say again, Anybody Seen My Baby has improved again! For me Paint It Black was the best in this part of the show. Saint Of Me and Out Of Control were very good and I noticed there was a pigeon flying in the hall during Saint Of Me (a sign?). Out Of Control had the spirit that it needs. As there were girls sitting on the guys' shoulders, we could not see anything of the performance of this one, but we were very enthousiastic about it. It reminded me of the one recorded at the Fashion Awards (That one is and remains the best so far!).
There was no web choice. Memory Motel was played next. No Mick on keyboard. Keith was waking up during this song and after Miss You he played the stars off the sky! First one: You Don't Have To Mean It and as always (as Keith announced it) Gotta Hold You. The Center Stage set was incredible! Awesome! Little Queenie rocked even better than it did at most shows and the best was I Just Wanna Make Love To You. I never heard it like this before! Unbelievable! Also Like A Rolling Stone sounded really great. I shot 36 pictures at the center stage set (a whole film!) I hope that they're going to be nice (I will let you know...)
After Ronnie shook Anny's hand (she made a banner that he likes very much) we went off to our regular seats to see the rest of the show from there. We were "soaking wet" after the center stage experience, so we enjoyed it being out of the pushing and sweating area. During Sympathy For The Devil Ronnie seemed to have a wrong guitar and it took him quite a while to got the right one. He also had troubles changing his T-shirt.
The last part of the show went on at high speed. And of course we were hoping for the one that we are still waiting for. But when we heard the first chords of Brown Sugar, we knew that there wasn't going to be a You Can't Always Get...
Nevertheless we can look upon a great and very special show in a very special city, which will be remembered.
Berlin is next.
I always have the sensation that they enjoy really much in playing these kind of places...At the beginning of the concert the place was packed and it was hard to get some air, mostly for us in the first rows. Everytime the Stones play a small venue I expect some setlist changes,but this was not the case, though we got some great highlights. The first 4 songs ran good as usual,with a great Lisa on Gimmie shelter.
Anybody seen my baby? was well accepted by the crowd and then Paint it black was great; This was the first time I heard it on this tour and it really sounded great. Differently from 1989-90 the now play it again in its original key(E-),and it absolutely gives to the song more strength than in the previous version,when they played it in D- with that kind of "dark" atmosphere;Also Keith playing electric guitar and not a nylon strings one contributes to that effect.
Saint of me and Out of control were really great,these new songs work perfectly live! And then Memory Motel:for the first time Mick didn't play piano on it,and it's really better if he can concentrate more on vocals; This has been a wonderful version,with a not wanted gag in it:Keith walked in front of the stage to sing his part at Mick's microphone,and, after he sang the first verse...SBAM...the microphone fell down on the stage! I'll never forget Keith's face for the rest of my life!
Miss you and Keith's set followed,and in the B-stage we had a shot of great R'n'R and blues with Little queenie,I just wanna make love to you and Like a rolling stone. The last part of the show was great as usual,though Mick had some problems with his monitors on Tumbling dice and Keith's guitar didn't work on the first chorus of Honky tonk women... Another great show to remember forever
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1998 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe