It's Only Rock'n Roll
By about five after the hour everyone in my section *Hey all of you in section 111 - I was the one screaming "Keith!!" every other second* was becoming impatient - we were ready for the Stones. At around 9:21 the lights went low, and everyone went WILD!! They began with an awesome version of JUMPIN JACK FLASH. Yeah, I knew JJF was a great song, but that version tonight was the best I've ever heard.
Next was BITCH, which was also great. After that Mick said hello to all of us who had gathered in the Hive. Then, a wonderful version of YOU GOT ME ROCKIN'. Next was RESPECTABLE, in which Mick concluded powerfully by screaming into the mike "Go FUCK my wife...", his eyes looking evil. When HONKY TONK WOMEN began the whole crowd went wild. Somehow even the drunks around me managed to remember all the words to this Stones favorite. Mick and Lisa shared a little dance and as expected, Keith did his cute little stunt over at the keyboards with Chuck. Gotta love it!!
They decided to slow things down a bit - a beautiful MEMORY MOTEL began. Oh, it was so beautiful. A few fans and I pulled out our lighters and waved them around in the air. It was so great, with Keith stepping up to Mick's mike stand when singing "she's got a mind of her own...". Lisa and Bernard shared a dance during that song...very sweet...
Next Mick got his acoustic and they did a rockin version of SAINT OF ME. Then SOME GIRLS, Keith lighting himself a cigarette before getting started. It was awesome. The crowd went wild when Mick sang the lines of women giving him the unexpected children. Next Keith walks over to the right side of the stage and starts a very beautiful, mysterious-sounding PAINT IT BLACK. Everyone went wild and sang along.
Mick then decided to introduce everyone. I was going insane because I knew what was soon to come after the introductions. Ken Smith...the birthday boy. Michael Davis. Then a sax player whose name I didn't catch. Bobby Keys. Bernard. Blondie. Lisa. Chuck. Darryl. Ronnie. Charlie...Keith bows down to him which I thought was extremely sweet. Then, the moment I'd been waiting for....Mick introduced the amazing Keith Richards. Keith did YOU GOT THE SILVER which really got to me. Wonderful. And the smile on his face could warm anyone's heart. Next he did a very rockin version of BEFORE THEY MAKE ME RUN. Even though I was hoping for You Don't Have to Mean It, being the HUGE Keith lover I am, I LOVED it. As did everyone else.
After Keith's set they started OUT OF CONTROL with my favorite Riff doing the moaning parts. Suddenly, out from underneath pops up Mick Jagger front center. Really cool. Good response. After that they headed to the b-stage. Keith had to again prepare himself a smoke before walking out. They started ROUTE 66 which was pretty cool. Then JUST MY IMAGINATION causing the crowd to go crazy. Next was MIDNIGHT RAMBLER. Gotta admit, it USED to be one of the Stones songs I sorta kinda liked. NOT ANYMORE! That was such a powerful performance of that song. Really cool. Loved it.
Moving back to the main stage, the Stones played TUMBLIN DICE. Now, that was cool. Again, Keith got himself a cigarette. Lisa and Bernard were tossing these big pinkish dice back and forth. Really cute. And maybe I was seeing things, but I swear on the speakers infront of Charlie's drum set there were two pictures - one being Bob Marley. But it was sorta hard to see from where I was. **if anyone knows, please tell me.** Then they did IT'S ONLY ROCK -N- ROLL. Great. Awesome. Lisa and Keith were getting it on - something I'd never heard of before...I bet Mick was jealous....
START ME UP was really exciting. Then BROWN SUGAR. What can I say to explain it?? Can't find the word. Brown Sugar ended with a huge explosion of silver, red, blue, and white paper...which I managed to gather some of after the show. "Good night," Mick said, and the band left the stage.
"They're coming back, man!" the drunk behind me assured anyone who would listen to him. "I just know it! They're gonna come back!!" Sure enough, they did come back, with a powerful SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL. Too cool!! As happy as I was to hear this classic, part of me was starting to become a little sad...I knew once this was done my darling Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, and Mick would leave. The whole line up walked out to the front of the stage, placing their arms around each other, and did their goodbyes. Then our boys. And then...faster than you can say Jumpin Jack Flash...the Stones were gone.
I haven't seen any other No Security shows so I wouldn't know how Charlotte compares to some of the others. But I do know Charlotte 99 is a moment in my life that will stay with me to the end. I fell in love with the Stones in Charlotte 97 and seeing them last night was the most amazing experience of my life. Thank you boys...ROCK ON & NEVER STOP!!!!
Start time : 9:23 End time : 11:23
The set list:
Every tour the band finds a new interesting way to open the show. The B & W video plays and brings the crowd to their feet. Keith opens up JJ Flash. Jagger runs to the center mic "and it's alright now!" Jagger is his usual explosive self, tonight wearing a white shirt under the black leather jacket. Keith and Ronnie decked out in black. As soon as Flash is over the jackets come off and Mick sits down on the drum riser to tie his shoe. Bitch comes before You Got Me Rocking. The band is really on tonight! Ronnie is a bit quiet as many of us have noticed. Keith's energy level is pretty much keeping up with Mick these days. He works the stage from his knees and kicks and splits all night long.
Respectable is a highlight. Jagger slinging guitar, this song is so much fun. Lisa helps on Honky Tonk Women. Lisa is still dressing modestly and Leah Wood was nowhere in sight tonight. This night was gonna be different! Tonight I got to see them do one of my favorites... Mick wears the moonlight white coat and Memory Motel is next. "Hannah baby was a bitchy kind of girl." I had seen this twice in previous tours but tonight was different. This was a dream coming true. "She's got a mind of her own and she uses it well, yeah she's one of a kind." Not sure what it is about this song, perhaps it is the 10,000 miles - fifteen states line but it gets me. And tonight it was exactly what I was looking for. A lasting memory.
The Babylon classic Saint of Me is next. Jagger on acoustic for the first half. By now he is stripped down to a sleeveless T-shirt. He works this song but maybe not as well as I had seen before. The crowd almost got the "oh yeah" but not quite. Charlotte did pretty well, mostly on their feet and into the band. Tonight I don't think the Stones relied on us. They were putting on a great show with or without us! The Glimmer Twins continued to play in each other's space smiling all night. It isn't every night you catch Jagger smiling.
"Some girls take my money, Some girls take my clothes, Some girls take the shirt off my back and leave me with a legal dose!!" And tonight he says, "Some white girls just wanna get..." This went over very well in Charlotte! Paint It Black. Intros. As I said, tonight was different - different than Tampa and Philly #1. Keith sits on his barstool with his acoustic guitar. "What will I do, when I get hungry & thirsty too?" The man finally played You Got the Silver! Tonight I am seeing a new Keith Richards. Yes, the heart of Rock and Roll lives in Keith. What a performance. He stole the show with this one song. The set list I had longed for.
Before They Make Me Run finished Keith's set - no beer break for the audience this time! Jagger returns from under the stage and proves to be Out Of Control. Still his most energized performance. On the B we get Route 66 followed by - yes it gets better. Jagger on guitar. "But in reality, she doesn't even know me! Just my Imagination." The showstopper Midnight Rambler. Seems like a long version tonight. Lots of guitar, harp and energy. Blows everyone away. "Make it hurt!" Absolute great version of Rambler.
Back to the main for Hot Rocks, Dice, IORR and Start Me Up with three false starts. By the way, lots of purple in the wardrobe tonight. Brown Sugar lets the streamers down from the ceiling and blankets the audience. Jagger screams for the opening of Sympathy. Keith steals the show again with his solo which he pulled off before the horns showed up. "If you meet me have some courtesy, have some sympathy and a taste. Use all your well learned politesse or I'll lay your soul to waste." Mick worked this crowd right to the very end. My legs were so tired after this show! How does that Jagger do what he does? My last scheduled show of this tour and it was a very good one.
I have come to realize the Stones have brought us full circle. In the 70's they moved out of arenas into stadiums. These stadiums were just that - stadiums - huge and often hollow. By '89 they had pretty much perfected a stadium show with sound, lights, flashpots, gimmicks, fireworks, video screens etc. We all asked ourselves "how will they ever top this?" In '94 they got even bigger and better. The stadiums had become home - filled to the domes with the band. At the top of their game, the biggest tour on Earth. Stadium excellence was achieved in '97. This time they chose smaller instead of larger and definitely better. With a smaller, softer stage and the B stage, Babylon actually made the stadiums feel like arenas. The Stones have set and raised the bar for all bands that will attempt to perform in a stadium.
With this years No Security tour they have returned to arenas and scaled down even more. These arenas feel like we are seeing the band in a club. So I say, full circle, from arenas to stadiums and back. Dare I say they are now resetting the standard for an arena? See for yourselves...
The soundtrack plays on... Forever in my Memory, I still hear them playing...
JJF comes on and away we go. I had been reading the reviews up to my show so I knew what was coming. I sat in sect 128, Keith's side about ten rows up. Great seats. We weren't parallel to the stage but could look down to it. Just great. BITCH started and I didn't see the horns come up - hoping for Live With Me. I hadn't heard it and the version on GYYYO is one of my fav's. The show goes along with the set mentioned above and through the b-stage I really enjoyed it. The crowd was non plus to Route 66. JMI, something was wrong with the sound. Many were too young to know Route 66 but I have to admit I really enjoyed it. (I must mention the sound was sometimes good and sometimes bad). I had been waiting for MR and they came through. After that though you knew what the finish was, same five songs or so. They did drop a song from the set if you go back to the Oakland, Sacramento shows. Am I getting an attitude??? I say this with mixed emotions. Below.
I bought a bootleg of Cocksucker Blues. "There was revolution in the air" on this tour but behind it was a wacked out group of people - Keith. I wanted to see the movie because I am a fan. When you see it, if you get the chance you will see how gross the scene was. By the way, the music, oh yeah the music was good but these shows NOW are much better. This is thrity plus years of an attitude on stage and for the last three tours they deliver. My editorial is I think these shows are better than what I have seen and heard twenty and thirty years ago. Go back and listen to the 1981 Still Life and compare SMU to flash point. You've heard it on every tour but it is really polished and tight. Do I contradict myself? As Walt Whitman says, yes. I agree that they should drop the Hot Rocks/Made in the Shade songs. Although Dance Little Sister would be great but at the same time they are performed well even on a bad night. Professionals
The Goo Goo Dolls are an interesting opening act. Probably on the verge of hitting it big in their own right, they have apparently chosen to widen their audience base by opening for the Stones the next few shows. They were a good choice for an opener. They were well received, if somewhat politely. The band have some familiar songs, even for a graying audience that is more accustomed to listening to classicrock radio. Having a hit song from a popular movie is likely what did that for them (1998's City of Angels and the song Iris).
At exactly 9:17 the lights were dimmed and the now familiar opening musical strains and the backstage video started. As we were sitting only eight rows off the floor and just one section down from Ronnie, instead of behind the stage where we were in Tampa, I had the entire expanse of the stage and the much larger video screens to watch. The sheer exhilaration emanating from the crowd around you as the concert begins is still something that has to be experienced to be believed. It's a mind drug that's better and safer than anything else!
The band appeared eager after their four-day layover to let us know just how strong and healthy they were. "Open the cage and let the tigers out," one of Keith's memorable quotes from the Voodoo Lounge CD-Rom program, was echoing in my ears as I watched these incredible musicians and showmen do their stuff. They rolled out, they rocked and they showed us an amazing two hours of high powered energy.
Memory Motel was a definite highlight as I think Keith's reception during the choruses was stronger than I have ever heard it. I saw Mick go and stand by Charlie while Keith sang, and they appeared to share a joke during one chorus. It was magnificently rendered.
Some Girls continues to get better and better. The three-guitar attack, the slashing chords, the biting words, and the sheer emotion exhibited by Mick on this song are truly amazing.
After my plea after the Tampa show, maybe Keith felt sorry for me and the others who had said the same thing about the song choices. After the intros, he came out to the front of the stage, waved to the crowd, and said "hey Charlotte, you've got spring here! We've got the silver!" He was relaxed as he sat down and started You've Got The Silver. It sent shivers down my back as I finally heard it for the first time ever. It was worth the price of admission!
On the B-stage tonite, I would be lying if I said that I was not a little disappointed to not hear Get Off My Cloud. However, you can't always get what you want! We did hear a sound system that was stroked up to within an inch of its life, as it was loud and saucy. Route 66 cooked tonite and Just My Imagination was a worthy second number. But, Midnite Rambler! Wow! That is simply the best song on this tour. They stretch it to an unbelievable length, Keith's riffing is phenomenal, and Mick wails like there is no tomorrow on both the vocals and the harp. I loved it!
Back on the main stage, the last five songs took on new vibrancy for me, as I had been wondering all day, would this be the last time for me to ever see them? I still don't know, but I do realize that the Rolling Stones made at least one new fan tonite, when my wife saw them for just the second time, and told me afterwards, "that was so memorable! You've made me into a Stones fan!" That's all someone needs to hear- another affirmation of just how powerful the band is. Wherever they may go from here, the Stones have made an indelible mark on our lives and we are simply glad to have witnessed and shared it with others. I'll put my pictures and the streamers we snatched from the air into a book and keep playing the tunes as I know they can do a lot of magic with their songs. Thanks!
Thanks to Olaf Reuthebuch, Ted Saxlid and each and every one of you for supplying links to online newspapers, and reviews, of course!
Read all about the "No Security" and "Bridges To Babylon" tours of 1999 in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazines. New issue IORR 35 out Jan 20, 1999, and the complete No Security guide in IORR 36 is out April 23, 1999.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1999 -
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