It's Only Rock'n Roll
So I went to Brussels, like I was here first time three years ago, midsummer 1995. The big question was: Is Mick ready? By hanging around their hotel here in Brussels, talking to friends and checking out band members, I realized Mick had actually arrived, like he never did in Bilbao. That was a good sign. And there were no talks of caancellations anymore. So Mick was ready - and I was ready!
On the show day we took the train from Brussels to Leuven (the home town of the Stella Artois beer brewery), a ride about 1/2 an hour. Then it was a bus out in the countryside of the Werchter area, and another 20 minutes of walking. We were there. A total of close to two hours of travel, but the Festival Site is nice, and the weather was great, so everything was in order.
Simple Minds were warming up, and I must say they had improved a lot since I saw them at a comeback show last year. My right arm was holding a blue armwrist with the print Rock Werchter, so I was lucky to be in the center triangle, a sepated area in the front, only available to the first few thousand people that arrive early. Usually they have may be 3,000 people in this section, but tonight it was packed may be the double. It was crowded, and that was good, because I hate these front sections when you can walk around, ahving 70,000 people behing you, and lots of space.
They had shown the football game on the screens before Simple Minds were on, so they were running late. After Simple Minds finished, they cleaned up in a hurry, and the intro tape I have learned so well this winter was half-way into the Progidy song (Smack The Bitch) when the opening tape of the Stones started. Keith walked our a bit sideways. He waited for the fireworks to explode. It was pure daylight, as the sun was just setting at now, at 9:28pm. Then he started up Satisfactiun. It was pure, raw and clean. The sound system was perfect.
Within seconds, the most famous voice of the time appeared as well, I Can't Get No Satisfaaction. I've never been so nervous about hearing Mick's voice before. Was he still bad? Did he show up just because there were so many peeople here? Would he break his voice again, like in Nuremberg? So many people in Italy and Spain had been disappointed this week, and I was afraid it might happen again.
But Mick was perfect. Well, his voice was better that in a long time. You know, Mick's voice varies aa lot, indoor it's dry, some places he's a bit hoarse, but tonight it was perfect. Surely he did some tricks. He didn't try out those high pitches every time. He didn't stretch Miss You to the limits. But who would do so, knowing there is another 70,000 people coming tomorrow? But don't make me wrong, he didn't save his voice at all, he just played it a bit smaart at times.
The set went on greatly. And the crowd was very good. It had been very warm all day in Belgium, and still it was close to 30 degrees in the air at 10pm, probably around 25. Then they brought Mick an acoustic guitar. Was he to do Saint Of Me eaarly, or did he risk his voice with Angie? No, it was a different guitar, and it was to be Dead Flowers! What a version! I'll tell you, writing about songs and how they show up is hard, and telling you how Dead Flowers was is impossible. I just loved it! Ronnie did some great solo playing.
Then they did It's Only Rock'n Roll, Saint Of Me and Out Of Control. Keith was doing most of the lead guitar licks. He was the master. It's like his ribs never got hurt. He was walkig around on stage like he was the king, and sure he is! Charlie kept a fantastic beat, his drumms rolled so I think the trees surrounding the stage felt like finally there was a good reason for growing up in Werchter. And with the sound system working perfectly, no distortion or bad acoustics, at least not from my point of listening, it was just perfect.
The web choice was Love In Vain. Keith did some amazing blues giutar playing, opening up the song. Then Ronnie took over, doing his bluesy slide guitar. What a great song.
Keith did a great version of his reggea song You Don't Have To Mean It, then he did the usual I Wanna Hold You.
Even the small stage worked great with the sound tonight. Little Queenie rocked. The Last Time was done by Mick in a more normal pitch than in Nuremberg, and even Like A Rolling Stone, which I think they counld have replaced at times, sounded great. After The Last Time, the crowd was starting to sing all over the field, some sort of football song, I guess, just like in Argentina. And Mick was there to cheer it up. It was a great moment. And the crowd was fantastic tonight. Warm weather helps a lot I guess.
The last five songs of the usual set went on just fine, as I enjoyed every moment. And as an encore we got Brown Sugar only, just like the official pre-printed setlist said originally. The show was over. Too soon. I had long forgotten my one week travel across Europe to cancelled shows. This was another memory to take home. Werchter in my heart.
PS. And what about the four hours travel back home to Brussels? Well, today, Sunday morning, it's all forgotten, because all that is in my mind is the sweet memories from the show. See you later today for yet another Werchter show.
Start time: 9:30 End time : 11:45
The set list:
Dead Flowers was next with Mick on the guitar, followed by It's only Rock 'n Roll (crowd went wild), Saint of Me and Out of Control. Mick played the mound-organ on Out of Control, his voice sounded very good and his condition was as of old, he ran along the stage as usual. The webchoice was Love in Vain followed by Miss You with the excellent sound of Bobby Keys.
Then the band was introduced and Keith was about to sing two songs: You Don't Have to Mean It (reggae) and Wanna Hold You, Keith said breaking a few ribs is not as bad as dying. A bridge came out of the stage and the band moved to the small stage (just like in the old days) and their they played: Little Queenie, the Last Time (!?) and Like a Rolling Stone. They walked back to the main stage where they started the final act with Sympathy for the Devil, the crowd of 60-70.000 people sang along. Tumblin' Dice, Honky Tonk Women, Start Me Up, Jumping' Jack Flash and Brown Sugar completed this gig. It's seems to me they get better and better every time I see them.
The weather is hot. For us to wait and because we are in belgium, they aire the football match Belgium - Mexique. Then it's quickly 8.00 pm and The Simple Minds are on stage. Good choice Mick ! Everybody sing "alive and kicking"...
Then the second show of the european BTB tour starts. It's 21.30 pm.
Of course the beginning is traditional : (I Can't Get No)Satisfaction, Let's spend the night together (I personnaly prefer the 81-82 tour version and generally the sound of this tour : direct and powerful. Listen to Beast of Burden and Miss You in Hampton dec 18, 81 with the excellent work of Bill Wyman especially on this last song) but yes it's more the original version that we hear now.
Flip the Switch is the next one. The "fastest Stones song". I thought that Rip this Joint or Hold on to your Hat were the winners. They play it well (more guitars on this tour) and I prefer that song as a new one to the boring I go Wild from Voodoo Lounge. My favorite follows : Gimme Shelter. Lisa Fisher as usually does a great job and she has a real success with the audience. Not only because she's georgous !
Dead Flowers is an enjoyable surprise. The occasion to hear Mick playing the guitar ! (just at the beginning). It's only Rock'n'roll but we still like it. Then Saint of me with the battery echoing in the playground. Out of control is really brilliant. The trompet is so good like on the 12'' Terrifying version and many guitars upfront ! The web choice ? Love in vain : Mick takes pains to do it. Great !
The now traditional Miss You and after it's the Keith part. Terrific, he plays You Don't Have to Mean It. Such a good reggae and well sung !
Wanna Hold You is a little bit more difficult on the vocal part...
The center stage is ready to welcome the Stones. A big humming starts and the passerel is moved for the guys to reach the scene. Little Queenie, The Last Time are successful. Ronnie makes some tricks and uses a devil fork with lights that someone gave him on Keith who doesn't apreciate... The almost "regular Stones song" Like a Rolling Stone closes the mini set. The sound during this part is not as good as it is with the general PA.
Sympathy for The Devil will be an excellent version. Why doesn't Charlie introduce it like in 90 for instance in Tokyo feb 26, 90 with the battery first ? That was powerful. Mick said that Tumbling Dice is played at each show and doesn't really know why. Well I love it because the words are really made to be sang : "Cheatin' like I don' t know how". Honky tonk women (no inflatable women this time) is next. Start me up is so powerful ! It echoes in the ground quite like the 81 version to me. Better than in 95 for sure. Jumpin'Jack flash and Brown Sugar (You Can't Always Get What You Want is not played. Some people announced that because of the contract between the Stones and Motorola, the song had to be played at each european show.).
Fireworks and that's all folks. Then it will be terrifying (!) to leave the place (2 hours in the car not moving at all !) Very tired but with a real satisfaction I'm back in Paris at 6.30 am. At this time the Stones are playing the second show in Werchter and I can't see it (Time waits for no one).
The sun is up, the moon goes down...
Some good friends and I, we arrived on Saturday at 01.00 p.m., just in time for a good spot in front of the gates. After 3 hours waiting in the burning sun, the gates (not all of them...) opened at 4 p.m. Then "run for your life" in the direction of the main stage for a good spot in the front ring. We chose Keith's side (again). We had to sit and wait untill 17.30 for the world cup football match between Belgium and Mexico. There were two huge video walls to watch the match. It was great to experience it with 60 or 70,000 (at that time) people!
At 20.00 sharp the Simple Minds opened. What a great band. I never heard them play live before, but it was the best opener for the Stones since George Thorogood and J. Geils back in '82. They played till 20.45. and we had to wait for The Ultimate Band of All Times till 21.30.
The Stones played very good. I can't compare it with the shows I saw in the States last year because it's too long ago, but I think they were better than in Nuremberg last week. They really rocked! Mick tried to speak some Dutch, but he gave up quickly ;-) Surprises were: Dead Flowers (what a magnificent song), Love In Vain (alright, Woody, you really know how to play your guitar!) and an extremely nice You Don't Have To Mean It (it was the first time I heard this one and it gave me goose flesh) Woody played piano on this one (I didn't know he even could play the piano) and Blondie played guitar .
There was nothing that reminded me of Mick having a sore throat. Everything worked out well. Just before Out Of Control I heard Mick say "Lord Have Mercy" (just a coincidence, or maybe a prayer... I don't know). No surprises on the center stage :-( and no You Can't Always Get What You Want, although it was on the setlist!
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1998 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe