It's Only Rock'n Roll
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The Sheffield show finished at five minutes to eleven. We met up with friends on the field, discussed the options, and decided it was time to leave in a hurry. Bad planning made us waiting for 3/4 of an hour in the parking lot, and we were stuck another half hour in the traffic. But once we were on the M1 highway, it was a matter of running the car to it's limits, without having serious problems with the traffic or the law.
. We made it in less than two hours from Sheffield to Tower Records on Picadilly Circus in London. Normally this 170 miles ride would have taken 3-4 hours, but this was an exceptional situation. Also, as one of our friends, not going to the Sheffield show, was at the Tower Records queue already, following our directions by phone, we felt we had comlete control. By midnight it was like 20-30 people queuing up down there, we were told. When our friend called us at 01:45 and told us that the first car with fans from Sheffield had arrived, and we were still only half way, the speed of the car seemed to go past a limit that was alrady rather high...
We arrived at Tower records at 02:40, parked the car nearby, and rushed into the queue, as there were now around 70 people there. Some said there would be 200 tickets only on sale, others said 2000, then again some said 1000. My guess was 1000, as the Shepherds Bush Empire takes around 1500, and around 500 VIP/Guest tickets would be issued.
My worry was the lack of barriers on the site. At previous queues I have been to, there have always been lots of steel barrers stacked up at some discrete lace around the corner. But this time there were no barriers to be seen, and no "discrete" security people on the place, in case the queuing got out of hand. I hoped some clever security people waythced us very discretely from a distance.
At 06:00 am a truck with a load of seel barriers parked next to us, to a great applause, of course, and we knew we were queuing at the right place. They said the tickets would go on sale at 11am. I had not slept that night, but knowing I probably had secured a ticket to the club show made me quite happy, and not really tired.
The queue grew as more and more people came during the morning. By 10am or so the queue was all the way around the Tower Records house, as we could see it coming back to us slightly up the Regent Street. The mood in the queue was fantastic, as hard core fans from all parts of the world seemed to have followed the word by mouth, and ended up at this place during the morning. Also, some London people jumped into the queue, of course, as seing the Stones at a price of 10 pounds in a small place is still a great thing for big city people in London.
The tickets sales started 15 minutes early, at 10:45. Two tables of three sets of sales people changed a ten pounds note into a ticket and a green wristband saying "The Rolling Stones - 8/6/1999" in typical Bridges To Babylon letters. As I knew I was ok with the ticket, I felt like being in heaven already, even if the show was not until tomorrw.
For the rest of the day we walked around smiling, happy people. Still feeling awfully sorry for all of our friends who could not make it for some reason. Such a small sized club show should be experienced by each and every hard core Stones fan in the world, really!
A total of 1200 tickets for the open standing on the floor were sold in the morning of the 7th of June at the Tower Records. By 12:30 or so all tickets had gone, one ticket per person, green wristband, 10 pounds cash. People who walked into the queue around noon could still get a ticket - rather unbelievable. For the three levels of balconies, there were three different colors of the wristbands, and also a slightly different colored ticket. A total of 400 guest tickets were for the seated balconies, making a total of 1600 people coming to this very specal show.
The scalpers (touts) worked hard to convince us, being in the queue, that we could make a lot of money by selling our tickets and wristbands. Pairs of wristbands and tickets were traded in dozens outside, quite openly, at prices varying from as high as 1200 pounds, to a lot in the region of 300 - 800 pounds. That's how much a hard core Stones fan think it is worth to see their favorite band in such an intimate setting. Some wristbands changing hands obviously looked pretty lousy, but a few people took that risk. Others bought from people having wristbands never being used - VIP's came in with tickets and unused wristbands in envelopes, as they put them on their own arms before they went in, or did some good business with "hungry" fans...
The Rolling Stones had scheduled rehearsals at 6pm, and doors were to open at 7pm. Mick arrived first around 6pm, then the backing band, then Keith and Ronnie in separate cars, then finally Charlie and his wife shortly before 5:30pm. We could not hear any rehearsals from outside, but we were told they spent ther time well, as Keith was staying there past the time doors were supposed to open, trying out some final chords and licks. Around 7:15pm, like 15 minutes late, they finally opened the doors, and we were in soon after.
Many celebrities were among the VIP's backstage and on the balconies. Among them you could see the whole Aerosmith band with front man Steven Tyler, Jimmy Page, Anita Pallenberg, the families of the Stones, Bob Geldof, the radio reporter who did the Stones TV special and also the ticket sales announcement - Chris Evans, Dave Stewart from the Euritmics, and the band Dixie Chicks, an upcoming country band from the US, scheduled for two nights at the very same place nxt week. There were more, a total of 400 up there, some real fans, some pure VIP's, and family, of course. The UK papers surely do cover a lot more about this, like the Evening Standard (early edition), showing pictures of Jerry Hall, Jade Jagger and Liz Hurley, plus a great front cover photo of Mick, and on page three a photo of the band and he crowd, as taken from the balcony.
I was in a few minutes after the doors opened, around 7:20pm, and was lucky to get a very good front row position on the Ronnie side, only having a couple of persons in front of me. By now it felt like I could shake hands with half of the people around me, as I knoew most of these guys, coming from UK, Germany, USA, Sweden, Australia, Holland, and a lot more countris. This was a continental show, not just for the hard core London fans, but for everyone who took the time and the pain to queue out, be in London all week, to see the Stones tonight.
Sheryl Crow was on at 8:35pm. The band sounded great. I was impressed by the guitar player, who did some marvelous work on his guitar. And of Sheryl, of course, who had a great time as well. Most people loved it, and nobody shouted for the Stones. She did a short set, finishing at 9:20 - only 45 minutes, while she did close to an hour at the stadium shows in Edinburgh and Shefeld last week. Also, she did not play her greatest hits. May be it was a gest to the Stones, not taking too much focus for the night.
The waiting time from 9:20 to 10:17 was painfully long. We could see many large paper sheets being pasted on the front stage floor, lyrics for Mick, new songs, words to "Melody", "Brand New Car", "The Moon Is Up",... We knew this would be different from the prevous shows. Luckily the crowd did not push that hard - well - that was before 10:17pm. By the time the boys walked on stage at that moment, and smashed into a punky and loud version of "Shattered", it was a war zone up there. The show had started!
Start time: 10:17 pm End time : 11:53 pm
-- Introductions --
As the opener I am SHATTERED but IT'S ONLY ROCK'n'ROLL and I liked it, as soon as these two numbers were on we knew that something really special was in store, and it was. RESPECTABLE, ALL DOWN THE LINE, SOME GIRLS and onto something never ever performed before MELODY what a treat with Bernard and Lisa smooching on stage and a trombone solo, Mick apologieses beforehand for this foray into uncharted territory but we loved it even with pasted lyrics on the stage floor, it most definitley was 'second night'.
Well that was special but followed by I GOT THE BLUES - Mick at his best, BRAND NEW CAR and a never ever before THE MOON IS UP. The trouble is you'll never make a SAINT OF ME. Sheryl, good warm up, got a part in HONKY TONK women, Keith GOT THE SILVER - why he's never done that before '99 I shall never know, he then had to walk BEFORE THEY MADE HIM RUN.
We'll if you ever plan to motor west try take my way thats the highway thats the best get your kicks on ROUTE 66 around Shepherds Bush that'll get YOU GOT ME ROCKING. TUMBLING DICE, BROWN SUGAR and JUMPING JACK FLASh as an encore rounded up and impressive Rock-n-Roll show by the world's permier exponents and all at 100% bull shit and prop free.
Yours Truly Impressed and Shattered...
But earlier on..we got there mid afternoon, doors opened at 7pm. There was about 100 people there already and the sun was shining and the atmosphere good. By the early evening the whole place was packed and anticipation high as they opened the door. Touts (scalpers) were asking up to �1000 ($1,500) for a ticket and wristband (the wristband does not deter the touts) and some people without tickets were getting desparate.
When the doors opened we piled in, I got right near the front and we waited patiently. By 8.30 Sheryl Crow came on and did a 30 min set, not overstaying her welcome - she is support on Saturday at Wembley but we didn't come to see her tonight.
By 9pm she was off and the tension - and the crush - got worse and worse. Just after 10pm a voice said "Ladies and gentlemen..the Rolling Stones" and on they came looking happy and relaxed. Jagger ran straight to the edge of the stage only a few feet from me and launched into 'Shattered', the make up must have been good as he looked fairly young and of course remains very fit. They then blaseted into 'IORR' and 'Respectable', all performed with enthuasiasm and energy. Jagger then said how good it was to be in London and said that tonight they would try a few different things. 'Going into the realms of the unknown' as he put it.
The energy continued with 'All down the line', 'Some Girls'(changed lyrics, now its white girls who want to get f@x8d all night) and for the first time ever, 'Melody' which probably needed a little more work on it. But then 'I got the blues' slowed it down then 'Moon is up' and 'Brand new car'. Then no time to rest as they kicked into 'Saint of me'(big big audience particpation) and 'HTW' with Sheryl Crow duetting on vocals.
Mick then introduced the band, with Charlie getting his usual adoration, including Keith making worshiping gestures. Then Keith took cente stage with a song that he said 'was old but has worn well' as he did a solo (I think) acoustic version of 'You got the Silver'. Then a very good version of 'Before they make me run' with Leah Wood on backing vocals standing between Lisa Fisher and Bernard Fowler.
Jagger then came back on and they entered the final phase of the gig with a polished 'Route 66', 'You got me rocking' 'Tumbling Dice' and 'Brown Sugar'. Off they went for a few minutes and came back on for a one song encore - 'JJF'. Both Brown Sugar and JJF seemed so different from the Stadium efforts, perhaps it was the atmosphere and the audience participation but they sounded like new songs.
And that was it - then we were outside, hot, stunned, amazed and happy. I have loved this band for 25 years and this was perhaps the highlight of it all. Does anyone want to buy my ticket for Wembley? (joking of course).
I never thought I'd make it, but a friend of mine got me a ticket.
After phoning the Stones publishing company I was told to listen to Virgin Radio on Tuesday morning, so after the Sheffield gig, I went back to my friends house in Stoke-on-Trent (city about an hour south-west of Sheffield) as I don't have a car (poor student, you see), and thought I would get a ticket on Tuesday like I was told. So then I get a call at 8am on Monday from my friend Karen telling me that the gig was about to be announced on Capital Radio. So was really annoyed at this - I would have to forfeit the club gig just because I wanted to see them in Sheffield. But my freind said she would call back with the number for tickets- but, as I thought, you had to go to a shop to get them, and it was only one per person, so I started to get used to the idea that I just wasn't going to make it.. But then my friend called me again to tell me she got me a ticket !!!!
I couldn't beleive it. She queued up TWICE!! and got one for herself and one for me. I strill can't figure out how she did this without getting caught, and with the ammount of people there anyway. So I got to the venue at about 4:30pm, because, unfortunately our tickets were for level 3 - right up the top !!! This didn't really matter in the end - it meant we had a great view, although seeing the atmosphere in the standing section, I was quite jealous!!!!
The setlist was a dream come true - ever since I heard 'You got the silver' for the first time, I had wanted to hear it live - and tonight my dream came true - it made my eyes well up with emotion... Hearing songs like I got the Blues (superb), and Moon is Up for the first time live was a truly amazing and special experience for me. I have to agree with the other reviewer that the last secion of 'hits' sounded new. I also felt really pleased for the stones - because of the way in which the crowd reacted to Saint of me - they literally would not stop chanting - 'I said yeah, oh yeah', etc after the song had actually finished - Keiths opening chords to Honky Tonk Women were almost drowned out by the crowd.
And You got me rocking was received amazingly well - EVERYONE was shouting out 'HEY HEY, YOU GOT ME ROCKING NOW'!!!! This must have been really cool for the Stones. Moon is up has a REALLY cool groove to it - I loved Keiths simple but effective intro and riff throughout the song. Some Girls (another 'live virgin' for me!!!) was great, with Mick obviously airing his frustration at particular women!!!!!
Well I could go on forever about this gig, but I won't!! It was simply just the most amazing and intense concert experience I have ever witnessed. That's it.
June 8, 1999; this was going to be a historical day; about 1500 people were in, including a lot of invited guests and family; the Stones wouldn't get away with playing a usual setlist. At 22.15 the lights went out; ladies and gentlemen, welcome please: the Rolling Stones! The Stones entered the stage, Keith got his guitar and he started Shattered; this was going to be a great evening! The next song was It's only rock 'n roll followed by a raw version of Respectable; great! All down the line was next and they played this with great enthousiasm. During this song Charlie smashed up one of his drums. Some girls was next and sounded, in my opinion, better than in the US. The next song was, according to Jagger, never played before (it was played in El Mocambo '77) and was a superb version of Melody with lots of falsetto and great horns; incredible!
Then Jagger announced Brand new car but he corrected himself that they would do I got the blues; again a great version and Chuck listened very well at the organ of the Sticky fingers album; perfect! Then we got Brand new car followed by another Voodoo lounge track and a real first time ever: Moon is up! It was clear that this song never was played on stage before because nobody did know how to end this song. Everybody was looking at eachother and it was at last Chuck who started the ending and they did it great. After Saint of me we got Honky tonk women with Sheryl Crow as special guest.
After the bandintroduction it was time for Keith to do his songs. A messed up but great version of You got the silver followed by Before they make me run. Then we got Route 66 and You got me rocking followed by the Brown sugar. The encore was Jumpin' jack flash; Keith leaning over his guitar and playing like only Keith can play this song; great!
At 23.50 everything was over; It was a great evening, a great setlist and a great performance. The Stones burned at the Shepherds Bush Empire as they only did a few times in their long career before.
I decided that this was my last Stones concert for this tour so that my beautiful memories couldn't fade away...
Think of this...less than an hour to show time...no ticket...no friends with connections and loads of London's upper class ready to outbid me without any effort. It was honest agony. I worked alot of people, kept the faith and just willed my way into a ticket and wristband.
Inside you instantly felt the greatness of what was about to unfold. The setting was beyond magical and when you actually found your seat or space on the floor, nobody could believe that THE ROLLING STONES were really going to be THAT close. It just did not seem possible. Years of dreaming, like your own party and look who's playing. Really dramatic.
Then comes the understated British announcer...'Ladies and Gentlemen...The Rolling Stones' There they are, so close you cannot believe you are part of this. Shattered wails at you...it's loud, clear and oh so ALIVE. Every person in the place is jumping, beaming and completely energized beyond any show ever. Big statement I know, but there is no exaggeration tonight. This is a show to treasure forever.
I'm not going song by song here, but there were loads of unique choices and special treatments to regulars. Spirit movers were Melody, I Got The Blues, Route 66, All Down The Line, You Got the Silver, Moon is Up, Respectable, Some Girls, Before They Make Me Run. I never went near my seat and probably covered a good 15 miles in pure sweat dancing. It was the best feeling in a long time.
It is possible this show will make it to video. They had cameras rolling!!! It should be your very next purchase in life. Cheers!!
The long 6 1/2 hour wait went by fairly quickly, all except for the last 2 hours, which dragged on & on as it began to rain briefly. It always amazes us that due to the internet we have met SO many Stones fans worldwide, that when we go to a show, or are waiting in line for tickets, we seem to know half the crowd! So there was plenty of opportunity to chat. We gave a big cheer when barriers finally arrived in a truck, to make the line more orderly. There were a few folks who arrived late & jumped the line, but not many. And, there were those who arrived very late & got at the end of the queue & by the skin of their teeth made it inside for a ticket & wristband. We were happy for all those who made it & sad for those who had traveled all that way & didn't get this rare chance.
Some of our friends went immediately to Shepherd's Bush the next morning to queue up for front row, we arrived around 5 to find at least 200 or more people already in line. Bernard Fowler was having a beer in the pub as we waited & I got to say hi to him briefly. News crews & cameramen were all about interviewing fans & taking still photos & video. The anticipation of what was to come was hard to bear, knowing that in a few hours we were to be in a small club with only 2000 lucky people, 1500 of them fans, the others invited VIP's. Due to paranoia, I must have checked to be sure I still had my wristband & ticket at least 50 times in 24 hours! And there were still pently of scalpers asking to buy or willing to sell for a much as 1200 pounds!
When the doors finally opened, a bit later than expected, we went immediately to the t-shirt stand for fear the shirts might sell out quickly. We bought one of each shirt & then took our places in front of Keith, 5 people back from the stage. Again it was difficult to wait even for Sheryl Crow to open the show, as she didn't come on until quite late. She played a nice set with only a few jeers for "no more" or "we want the Stones". Finally the moment had come...Ladies & Gentleman, The Rolling Stones!!! The crowd erupted & we were literally almost crushed to death & thrown off of our feet by the pushing & shoving towards the front of the stage. Now I can see why some bad things happen in large crowds such as that. One guy to the right of us passed out & we had to lift him over our heads to a security guy on the left. Other than the constant crush, we were quite annoyed with some fans who tried to get to the front after getting inside late & were willing to do anything, including injure people to get there. After all, many people had queued up all night to be in the front, so they deserved that position. Other than the crush, it was HOT, by the time we left we could wring the sweat out of our clothes, so you can imagine the smell down there!
For the first 5 songs I could barely pay attention because I was in fear of my life almost. And, even though we were only several feet from Keith, unless you were around 6 feet tall it was almost impossible to see the stage. I joked "it's a great show, can't wait for the video!". Nice to hear them start off with Shattered & then All Down The Line which I had heard on the NS Tour but was a great one to hear again as well. Songs 6 through 10 in the setlist blew me away, literally. These were the reasons we queued up all day to be here-a brilliant first attempt at Melody, then a favorite rarity from the No Security Tour, I Got The Blues, a to die for version of Moon Is Up, another Voodoo Lounge rarity Brand New Car and a Saint Of Me where the crowd led the band instead of vice versa!
Sheryl guested on Honky Tonk Women as she ended up doing at all the UK shows. Keith did Silver, my favorite officially released Keith track, but he had a bit of trouble recalling the lyrics that night! A rocking Before They Make Me Run and the usual Hot Rocks portion with the NS B stage fave Rt. 66 thrown in. When I could see the boys, which was rarely mind you, they looked like they were having a great time. Of course the fans were in heaven & then we had all the celebrities just above our heads, like Aerosmith, Liz Hurley, Jimmy Page, Bob Geldolf, and all the Stones families. Mick even made the comment about "wives & ex-wives...and that's just Charlie!" as a joke.
When the gig ended, we were bathed in sweat, parched, but elated. We had been there, we had seen our dream gig of a lifetime, the Stones in a small club, we could die happy. And we still had two Wembley shows to go!!!
Unlike last time in 1995 when I was more on the ball and had arrived early in the queue at Virgin for tickets to the Brixton Academy, I missed the announcement and didn't find out until midday on Tuesday that the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world (and I have been a fan since 1963) were going to be playing there - partly, I had thought that, as in 1995, their club gig would be after the Wembley shows, particularly since I'd heard they'd be doing Sister Morphine with Marianne Faithfull and I knew she was going to be in town the week after Wembley.
Anyway, it didn't take me long to decide I had to go and give it a shot outside the venue, otherwise I'd be wondering for the rest of my life whether or not I would have got in. Moreover, I somehow felt lucky (and determined) that day, though I had no idea how I would gain entrance. But when I went to Keith's 50th birthday bash at the Town and Country Club, the tickets were sold out and at the last minute they announced from the box office that there were some tickets on sale that had been deliberately kept back until the last minute - so we all rushed up to buy, with the added and extremely sweet delight of being able to leave the bewildered ticket touts standing! So I secretly hoped the same might happen at Shepherd's Bush (though no such luck).
My heart sank on arriving shortly after 7 pm to see thousands of people outside, but undeterred, I still had to go for it. I was soon offered a ticket for the princely sum of �600 - a figure (although not the highest) that I was to hear many times in the hours ahead. Rumour even had it that a guy from the Czech Republic paid �1400! Myself and the other hopefuls watched forlornly as everyone went in excitedly, including Liz Hurley, Chris Evans, Bob Geldof, Jimmy Page, Jade Jagger, Kate Moss and Ulrike Jonnson. We remarked that we couldn't have imagined any of them queuing up outside Tower Records for the privilege of a ticket! At one point, Bernard Fowler was outside and turned to head round the back with a small entourage - I seriously thought of tagging along and afterwards wondered with regret why I hadn't given it a whirl. After all, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I tried all sorts of other ploys to no avail and eventually the doors slammed firmly shut. Most of those outside gradually drifted away in dribs and drabs, but myself and a handful of other diehards stayed, though we wondered to each other why and kept repeating "you never know" and "I'd never do this for any other band" (too true!). Some bought T-shirts, with others among us commenting that we wouldn't want to buy a T-shirt to a gig we hadn't been to. I discovered some German fans - one who had arrived by plane from Germany at 4 pm and another who had seen the band 55 times! (I also learnt about this website from one of them).
Not too much later, a rather unlikely looking suspect in a suit staggered out, rather the worse for wear - I called after him as he tottered off, asking for his ticket, and somewhat amazingly he responded by producing the stub from his pocket and held out his wrist for me to wrestle off the band. Armed with these two items, I made haste to the door, but was flatly refused entry, despite my endless pleas that if someone came out, it was only fair to let someone else in. But no, not in the eyes of those who take some perverse form of pleasure in wielding the only bit of power they'll ever hope to have.
Soon after, on one of the occasions when the door was opened briefly, one of the touts and a member of the door security had words about the door policy, which culminated in the tout throwing his beer bottle against the door as it closed. It was promptly reopened and as the words got more heated, all three security staff left on the door ran out to get him. I was standing right there and, seeing that my moment had come, I grabbed the chance to rush in behind their backs before the door closed behind them! Suddenly, I found myself in the lobby and hesitated for a split second - half expecting to be stopped and half deciding whether to go upstairs or down. I quickly decided on the latter, rushed down the steps, pulled open the door and entered to see Mick and the boys under the stage lights playing "The Moon Is Up".
Never mind that I had missed the entrance and the first songs - better late than never and I was ecstatic like you can't believe!! Hardly able to credit my luck, I made my way towards the front and when I got stuck, I followed behind an American guy headed in the same direction, who, in true solidarity, offered me his hand and helped to pull me through. Next was "Saint Of Me" - every concert, there is always one song in particular that stays circling in your head for days after. For me, that was the one this time. I was about five back from the stage and could clearly see Mick looking incredibly fit and strutting about in his usual timeless and inimitable fashion. He also did his mock angry bit - oh, bliss! Still WAY the best stage performer of the many I have seen over my long years - no one else can touch him! And dear lovable Keith - so ravaged, it's amazing he's still alive, but as ever the true epitome of Mr. Rock 'N' Roll himself, if ever there was one, with Charlie as his contrast, so cool, calm and collected, his hair nearly white now. Those three are the true lynchpins.
Down at the front it got progressively wilder, with everyone dancing, swaying and singing along at the tops of their voices all the way through to the very end. It was such an incredible atmosphere - and I had been in that same venue just a few weeks earlier to see a good band, too, but there was no comparison!
When I arrived at Wembley, which was terrifically spectacular in a very different way, I was so grateful to have seen them again at a small venue - nothing could match that - EVER!! At Wembley, "Midnight Rambler" was the song for me that night - somehow, that particular performance was very reminiscent of the original era - and "Paint It Black" came a pretty close second. But they were all fantastic - this is one happy fan among the many thousands of others. I could be writing about this life event for ever, but I started this last week and if I don't finish now, I'll never send it.
Just I am still soooooooooo eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-lated from those shows. Last time at the current Wembley, but could it also really be THE last time they tour???? Coming back from Wembley I heard an e-mail quoted on the radio in which the author stated his view that the Stones had peaked in the early 1970s and had not come up with anything innovative since! Where is he at??!!! The irony of this story is that it was thanks to that tout that I managed to get into Shepherd's Bush - although not the way he would have liked!
Thanks to Keith Robleym Steven Galante, Johannes Tuemmers 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 36 out May 18, 1999.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1999 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe