It's Only Rock'n Roll
As soon as the band finished Jumping Jack Flash, I saw the horn plaers come out, and I knew we were going to get "Bitch". A great version, with Ronnie's rhythm guitar up front in the mix. Keith was all over the stage, pushing the band forward, harder and harder as the night went on. You could tell they have been on the road for the past few months, because the playing was so tight, and the sheer adrenalin was palpable.
Several people have commented that Ronnie seemed more reserved on this tour, and I would say that it is correct, but IMHO, it was a welcome change of piece. No running around, no flailing arms. He just stood there and focused on his playing, which was much more up front in the mix than on previous tours. Ronnie can be an excellent guitar player when he has the space in the song, and last night, he proved it. On "You Got the Silver", he stood center stage behind Keith, his electric slide perfectly complementing Keith's acoustic slide. At that moment, and during several others like it, Ronnie commanded a greater stage presence than at other time when I have seen him. Good job.
As for Mick, he was as energetic as ever. Performing indoors with this particular set of songs, he was more committed than on the previous shows I have seen. And of course, all of you reviewing the previous shows were correct: Some Girls was a true highlight. Keith and Ronnie stood side by side, behind Jagger, firing off guitar lines as they smiled at each other and at Mick. At the end of it, I was shaking my head thinking, "What took them so long to start playing it?" Just great.
There were so many highlights that I will just mention a few before I sign off. Midnight Rambler was excellent, with the guitars loud and up front. Unlike the versions of Rambler that were performed on the Steel Wheels and Urban Jungle, Ronnie played some lacerating lead guitar to complement Keith's bedrock riffing. (If you have heard Rambler from London 7/7/90 you know what I am talking about. Chuck's piano almost dominates the build up at the end. He is an excellent musician, but it just didn't fit.) As for the grand finale at the end, I couldn't believe it. As many times as I have heard those songs performed live, they actually managed to breathe fresh air into them. It's Only Rock and Roll, in particular, really rocked the house, with Keith firing off great leads throughout.
All in all, a wonderful show! Thanks guys! And thanks to all of you who have contributed your reviews to previous shows. It was tough waiting to see them until the end of the tour, but reading your reviews made the waiting easier.
The set list:
I was really excited to party down in Memphis -- its great southern town to see music in. I really think the Pyramid is one of the best venues in the Midwest to see a concert, i had not been there since the grateful dead in 1995. The Pyramid looks like the Luxor in Vegas -- very very cool -- wonderful live sound -- i had lower level seats off the keith side runway.
Lights go down, the crowd gets up- and they flip the switch for the opening video which looks like a WWF wrestling promo -- of these tough street fighting men walking down a long hallway -- there's a shot of mick and another close up of keith... everyone is pumped -- pretty good crowd, (tall blonde memphis gal in the row in front of us) and the keith walks to center stage BANG opening riffs of JJ FLASH -- love the opening of the show -- very hot and tight... mick on fire... charlie snapin away...
Before i knew it the horns come out and they are into BITCH... sound is turned up a bit -- and there entire place is rocking away... YGMR... then they pull out the GIMME SHELTER -- -it was beautiful -- ya ya ya... lisa fisher takes over the place with her voice and mick was all over the stage ... it was something --
HONKEY TONK was fun because of the opening line -- " gin soaked bar room queen in MEMPHIS"... then they slow it down with IVE GOT THE BLUES ... as clear as day... keith and ronnie bendin the fenders... mick vocals were perfect -- i mean right on the mark... sounded exactly like the cut on sticky fingers... the song made me "feel" like the stones really still had the soul... mick was walking around the stage... it was really great great... then SAINT... (moved down into the row with the memphis gals) oh yea. oh yea... fun, good stuff... SOME GIRLS was better at the chicago show... keith hit the groove -- i mean the rhythm harder in chicago... give me all your money and give all your dope
PAINT IT BLACK was on fire... YOU GOT THE SILVER... keith was so fine... perfect silver and BEFORE THEY MAKE ME RUN... can't remember the OUT OF CONTROL -- (pehaps i was out of control) then they went over to the small stage... ROUTE 66 ... into a hot WHIP COMES DOWN... then the best... MIDNIGHT RAMBLER -- i've ever heard... it had it all mick keith charlie ronnie... what can i say... very smokin'... T DICE... keith was all over it ... mick was pleased with the show and let loose...
the band was on fire for the rest of the show... IORR -- with lights on the floor that look like "rocks"... START ME UP... (im a little board with this number)... was all over the blonde during BROWN SUGAR... they really cut it up... i loved this show... maybe it was the girl, town, venue or band... great night... and then charlie sits down again to the opening of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL keith is jammin... then the devil comes out in a sparkly black nighty shirt... takes us home with WOOT -WOOS it was great... our entire section walked out going WOOT- WOO great experience... hope its not the last time... many thanks to the stones, the crew... and the fans who made the show fun!
By accident, we went to eat on Union Street before the concert and saw the Stones leaving the Peabody Hotel. Two rooms on the top floor were covered with what appeared to be aluminum foil. A person in the crowd said they were Mick's - I suspect they were Keith's with his red lights. He also said Mick's kids watched the Peabody ducks come to the lobby that morning, but we were there and did not see any sign of them. The Stones left in separate vans with family members. Mick left in a car.
Johnny Lang was really good. This is the first time I've seen a warm-up artist get respect. Probably 80% of the seats were filled and the crowd loved him. The response was much better than at the Compaq Center in Houston last year. He was also given use of the large screen.
We were treated to I Got the Blues, which had only been performed once before on this tour.
Ron Wood was introduced before Daryl Jones - I hope this was just an acc ident.
Our seats were front row small stage, row A, section 6, seats 13 and 14. For 3 songs, we were at rock and roll ground zero! No seats in the house, including front row center of the main stage, could have gotten us closer to the Stones. The speakers under the small stage did not provide the best sound. I guess these were the stage monitors for the Stones - I always wondered about the purpose of the round grills on the stage floor, I thought they were for fans for air circulation. However, the view was unbelievable! We could actually touch the small stage. This time, the stage was round and did not rise - it was about 5 feet high. The drums and keyboard did rise just before the small stage performance. Unlike our small stage seats in Atlanta and in Houston, there were no personnel or equipment between the Stones and us. We were very much closer.
Mick waved his hands over us several times but they were always just inches above us. We never got to slap hands, although he did take some gifts from the hands of some fans.
Keith was very much in control of the music - so confident, so calm, so collected!
Up close, Ronnie was very animated and into the music. He looked at us 3 times eye to eye, possibly because of the Son House T-shirt I was wearing from the Clarksdale Mississippi Delta Blues Museum ( http://www.clarksdale.com/dbm/). He made more eye contact with the crowd than all the other Stones put together. At one point, he quit playing for a moment, and you could tell the difference. There may be better guitar players (I'm no musician) but he's a Rolling Stone.
Charlie was partially hidden by parts of the drum set, but from time to time we could see him.
I draped a Muddy Waters T-shirt from the Delta Blues Museum at the base of Mick's mike stand. However, he used the stand to toss it to one-side of the stage - I don't think he knew what it was, or he may not have cared; it may have been offensive - they get so much stuff thrown on stage. I probably should have thrown Ronnie the Son House T-shirt - he might have changed into it.
As Mick left the stage, he snapped pictures of the crowd on the right side of the stage.
The crowd around us was really nice; no one attempted to push ahead of us. Nearly all sections were standing for the last half! Keith did a "false start" on Start Me Up. I had hoped for a guest appearance by a blues artist born in Mississippi but no luck. Anyway, this was the best concert I've attended - I really didn't think Houston (concert or city) could be beat! The Stones don't need elaborate stages, although they do help entertain those with distant seats in large stadiums.
My husband, Blinded and Torn & Frayed (a fellow MickChick and her man) got to the Pyramid about the second Johnny Lang began to play, I think. His sound was loud, clean and impressively good. I was struck by the contrast between his life and his looks, his talent and his age. Hes 19, looks even younger, like some boy Id pay $25 to mow the yard, and he plays the blues like a maniac and opens for the ROLLING STONES. As I enjoyed his set, tapping my leg and smiling at my husband, I pondered his good fortune, getting more and more wound up with excitement at the thought of seeing the Boys. The air was hot and thick as the rest of the audience poured into the arena. I looked up and said a quick prayer of thanks to the Lord for the special treat I was about to get.
When the lights went down to start the video of the Stones walking down a corridor, I sucked in all my breath. I am still working on letting that breath out. They really did look like gunslingers marching off to kick some ass in that video, knowingly going out to do their job- being the Best Rock 'n Roll Band Ever. Then Keith magically appeared onstage and ripped into the first hot chords of Jumping Jack Flash. There they all were- MICK JAGGER, KEITH RICHARDS, CHARLIE WATTS, AND RONNIE WOOD- and from then on, a great part of me was enraptured to the point that memory fails me. I am always struck by the sheer power of their playing. They can go from 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds, making me think the press is lying about their age. Keith and Ronnie squeezed every last drop out of their respective guitars, and Charlie never faltered so much as a nanosecond with that back beat. Mick prowled the stage like a caged panther in black jeans. From that moment on, I matched him move for move, imagining actually dancing with The Man.
Next the band lit into a blistering version of Bitch with Charlies drums hitting on all cylinders, and You Got Me Rockin continued the fast pace in the stuffy, smoky arena. By now I was sweatin like a whore on dollar day, but Mick and Co. pranced and played under the red and blue lights like it was childs play. As Gimme Shelter played, I noted Ms. Fishers blessings of beauty and an ethereal voice. Damn, those notes she hit! The whole song had a spiritual fire to it that just radiated throughout the place. I am not ashamed to admit my eyes never strayed long from Mister Jagger.
Then came Memphis time to shine, as Keith ripped into the sultry, ballsy riff of Honky Tonk Women. The crowd finally participated, and The Boys fed off that energy and rewarded us with one of the best version of the song I have ever heard. The back beat of that song was like good lovemaking. Thank You, ThankYouVeryMuch. :)
It was now time for the ballad spot, and I looked towards Heaven one more time, whispering Moonlight Mile, but was instead given an enchanted, emotionally charged Ive Got The Blues. About 3/4 way through the song, I turned to my horror to discover that I was the only one still standing and swaying to the lovely song in MY ENTIRE SECTION. I begrudgingly sat down, shaking my head and cussin softly in disgust.
When Mick began Saint of Me, I was immediately on my feet again with a defiant stare behind my back. No one so much as dared to tap my shoulder. ;) Mr. J. tried very hard to get the same Yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah. . . response out of the audience, but couldnt. Then the band launched into a rolling, milder version of Some Girls than I have heard was played earlier in the tour. I guess alls well that ends well. Keith and Ronnie played particularly excellent guitar.
However, the band turned it up a notch for the blazing version of Paint It Black that came next. Mick worked the stage like a mad Flamenco dancer, and the band seemed to just crescendo into a frenzy. Mere words cannot do justice to their performance of the song. It was raw and very powerful, and I am a much bigger fan of "Paint It Black" now.
The introductions were in order as the lights came up, and I screamed and clapped for each and every one. I could be wrong, but I think Charlie got the loudest cheer, followed by Keith, followed by. . . .I wont lie, my eyes were on Mick the whole time- who never was introduced.
Keiths set was up next, and although I didnt get the ballad I wanted, I did get the Keith song I needed. . .You Got The Silver was touching and honest. I think I love Keith (and all the rest of 'em) just as much for his flaws as for his genius. I was then treated to Keiths singing, Booze and pills and powders, you got to choose your medicine. . ., as he sang the anthem Before They Make MeuRun. It was fun; it was appropriate for the moment, and I loved it.
The opening beats of Out of Control got me and Blinded, well, uh, hmmmmm, maybe a bit out of control to the uninformed, casual observer. However, my Mama always said, No guts, no glory. Blinded grabbed my hand and expertly snaked us through the crowd like a stealth fighter pilot. We moved past disapproving glances, guards, and groping hands to the 3rd row of the B stage. My dry mouth developed a lump the size of a golf ball in it, and I was amazed my shaking legs and racing heart were able to carry me to my final destination. I was in utter awe like a child at Disneyland- but way, way better- by the time Route 66 rocked the B-stage, bringing Mick within feet of me. I dont know what was opened wider- my mouth or my eyes! I was also totally caught up in the importance of that moment. Aside from bringing my son into this world and meeting my wonderful husband, I dont think I have ever been more drunk on adrenaline, blown away by the magnificent awe of the moment. When the Whip Comes Down seemed to fly by with a New York second, and then I was into the hottest, closest, tastiest Midnight Rambler. Keith, honey, yes, that was us ladies chanting, Keef, Keef, Keef, Keef, Keef! And Mick, yes, sugar, that was me and 4 of my newest girlfriends screamin, Take it off!
After "Tumblin' Dice" and some way through Its Only Rock and Roll I was pointed to my rightful station in life by a mighty sweet security guard. Thank you ever so kindly. It may be only rock and roll, but I dont think my legs have ever shook like they did during my B-stage escapade.
If I had been asked before the concert which songs I could do without, I would have undoubtedly said Start Me Up and Brown Sugar. Damn, thats the first time in my life I have ever been wrong! Start Me Up belied its reputation of being overplayed. The Boys knocked it out, with Mick doing his standard freeze frame at the end of the words start me up, and Charlie adding a nice back beat for Mick to subtly shake his hips in a one-two move at the end of the phrase. Brown Sugar had a fire in its belly, too, with Keith wielding the damn guitar strings like a master swordsman (Ronnie, you, too, hon). I once again noted Ms. Fishers beauty and luck at being up there high steppin' it with The Man.
As the lights came down, the crowd chanted expectantly for its sympathy encore. Roll-ing Stones! over and over and over again. The fast chants and drums and screams excited the crowd into Whooo, Whooo! uproar. It was fast tempo and thrilling with all of us chanting like mad devotees of Dionysus. I left the building that night a smiling, satisfied Mrs. D. :)
As I walked up Union and down Beale street with the wind and dust whipping through my wet hair and sticking to my sweaty Who The f--- Is Mick Jagger t-shirt, I was warm in the afterglow. I do'nt think I spoke a word all the way back to Rum Boogie. Thank you guys- Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie and mates- for a wonderful evening I shall never forget. Yall rock!
After all is said and done
I cant walk and I ca'nt run
I dont mind-
I had too much fun-
yall do it better
than its ever been done. . .
The Rolling Stones ;)
Thanks to 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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