It's Only Rock'n Roll
I had never seen the Igloo of Pittsburgh until before the show, and at first it seemed like an odd early 1960s building that would be more suitable for storing road salt than for holding a Rolling Stones show. Once inside, the building proved to be ideal for a show: the acoustics were excellent, starting with an entertaining opening set by The Corrs. Best of all, the Igloo does not have the multi-level seating and stacks of skyboxes seen in many newer arenas. The side seating is continuous from the floor up to a row of skyboxes at the top so that there is an uninterrupted sea of people on each side of the stage much like a football stadium. This provided a great atmosphere to begin with, and the Stones stoked it with fresh songs not heard thus far on No Security.
Bitch was an excellent second number reminiscent of the better Babylon shows. Gimme Shelter was another winner brought back from the last two years, and it was fantastic to see Lisa Fischer cut loose on her vocal part compared to her relatively minor feature on Honky Tonk Women during previous No Security shows. The crowd absolutely loved it and the Stones took that early inspiration to raise their performance to new heights.
Fool To Cry replaced Moonlight Mile or Memory Motel for the ballad. Far from the weekend of the cancelled San Jose shows where our paranoia questioned whether Mick Jagger would ever sing again, he sounded absolutely perfect: Fool To Cry was intense goose bump inducing material. Keith’s songs were especially well received, and like Oakland Keith first introduced “I Got the Silver”, then corrected to “You Got the Silver”, and then capped it off by saying with a laugh “Somebody’s got it!”
I was close to the small stage, and the songs there really packed a punch as Keith, Charlie, and Mick were laughing having a great time. Ronnie of all people seemed most serious, but that concentration has been evident in his playing as he is complimenting Keith more than ever in their Ancient Form of Weaving, especially on Midnight Rambler. If there is one quick answer to why No Security has kicked ass, I would have to say its Ron Wood not being a weak link but instead being a full creative force in the Stones (sorry Mick Taylor!).
The Stones Rock’n’Roll freight train rolled on through the classic crowd favorites, with Mick not passing up the opportunity for alliteration on IORR where he said “Do you think that you’re the only pussy in Pittsburgh?” A longer than usual Sympathy for the Devil finished things up as Mick took his time working the crowd behind the stage, Keith lit up the arena with his leads, the crowd shouted the “Whoo whoo!” chorus. Mick responded to the frenzy adding rhythmic “That’s right!” s at the end of the crowd’s singing. It was over all too quick, especially on an evening like this where The World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band is not just a title but a fact proven beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The set list:
Charlie was particularly spry this evening, adding a few novel flourishes periodically, conducting a 30-second dancing exhibition during preparations for the trip to the B stage, and even catching a bra -- thrown back by Mick -- with a drumstick during a song, then playing a few bars with it still snagged before flicking it off. Charlie shared several smiles with Chuck and Keith during the show.
The mix was fairly bad -- horns and background vocals overstated, guitars generally attenuated -- but that is much like observing that Cindy Crawford's G-string is a shade too bright. The concert was excellent, anyone with an opportunity should catch this show. If anyone obtains a recording of this show, I would love to trade. ([email protected])
The stage appeared to be much deeper than standard; tickets near the midpoint of the arena were near the front of the main stage. The B stage was far closer to the far end than to the middle. Pittsburgh's arena is a fairly standard hockey-basketball facility.
The rigging rained six-foot strands of red, white, blue and silver streamer at the conclusion of Brown Sugar. I grabbed a bunch and will find a prominent place for these souvenirs at my house.
Fascinating rumor, brought to me through my line of work: Anheuser- Busch is planning a "millenium concert" for December 31 and is negotiating with the Stones (and several other "warmup" bands, like Sting and Eric Clapton). Retailers, consumer contest winners and those lucky enough to have the right A-B contacts would be invited to St. Louis. It's not set, but I'd wager the negotations are occurring.
Trade opportunities always welcome. See ya in Philly, Cleveland, and Columbus!
I'm afraid I've run out of superlatives to even attempt to describe what I saw tonight. I thought the last three shows I saw on this tour were as good as it got, but the Stones kicked it into overdrive tonight.
Before the show Michael Cohl walked past us. "That's the guy who signs Mick's paychecks," I said to the kid next to me. My seat was in the fifth row, Woody's side, and from this vantage point I enjoyed the Corrs' opening spot even more than in DC. They won the crowd over fully, although other friends in the stands noted "a wave of revulsion" during the Fleetwood Mac cover. They should replace that with more tin whistle & fiddle instrumentals. Be that as it may, this stint opening for the Stones has won them quite a few fans stateside. I noticed one very pretty girl in the front row dancing and singing along to "We Are Young", and thought, "hmmm. Someone knows their songs." More on her later.
After the Corrs I walked back to scout out the B-stage. Keith's side looked to be the best spot with some open floor space. Then back to our seats, and soon enough the whole ride started again: Jumpin Jack Flash, black leather & shades. They sounded incredible. The horn section filed out next, so I knew it wasn't going to be "Respectable", and it wasn't...it was "Bitch". And it KILLED. Lethal. Then "You Got Me Rockin'", and THEN....Keith started "Gimme Shelter"! They're finally DOING it, I thought, they're mixing up the setlist. Mick went back to the backup singers and laid his back against...BERNARD, running his hand over Bernard's butt. Lisa looked at him as if to say "what about ME?" and Mick laughingly pointed her toward Woody. Lisa wailed on this one, holding the last note of her solo verse an impossibly long time.
In the middle of "Honky Tonk Women" there was a moment for me when everything stood still, when I could take in my surroundings and realize for a moment just what I was seeing. Keith was down in front playing his solo, Charlie was kicking the hell out of his drums, and Mick was causing waves of hysteria to roll clockwise around the omega ramp; I watched as he pointed two fingers into the stands, followed the line to see that whatever invisible rays he was beaming up there was making every woman WANT him BAD RIGHT NOW. Half the men, too. Palpable lust emanated from section C.
A roadie brought out a piano. I had read somewhere that the band had rehearsed "Fool To Cry" in DC , so I amazed everyone around me by psychically predicting this. And it was absolutely gorgeous. I used to hate this song. Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now. It was sheer magic. Mick was ON FIRE tonight. You know what it's like when he puts a little effort into his work. No one can touch him. Not just his singing and dancing, but also his piano, guitar, and especially harp were superlative.
While they played "Fool" , I saw the girl who'd been dancing to the Corrs, and realized where I'd seen her -- it was Leah Wood. She'd sung on Keith's songs Monday night in DC. I borrowed a pen from an old security guy and went over to her. "Could I have your autograph?" I said, not thinking for a minute how silly such a giddy gesture might seem for a monkey of my advanced years. "ME??" she said incredulously. She's just a wee slip of a girl, very pretty and very young. Her equally young girlfriend started giggling. "You're Leah Wood, aren't you?" I said politely. "Yes...." "You were great in DC," I said, offering her the pen. A security guy must've been alarmed because her friend said "No, it's okay," to someone behind me.
Leah signed a printed schedule of Monday's DC show which I'd found on the floor by the soundboard. She seemed stunned at having been asked. Meanwhile the audience SAT DOWN en masse, but obviously to listen more intently. They stood back up for "Saint Of Me", Mick cheerleading from the catwalk. Remembering Charlie's brilliant ending flourish from DC, I told everyone around me to pay attention. He does an incredible ten second roll which says more than any pompous drum solo. Loud chants of "Charlie! Charlie!" come from Row E.
"Some Girls" just gets more vicious every night. Mick actually looked PISSED OFF bad while he spat out the words. "Paint It Black" builds to such an insane pitch that for a second I feel like I'm levitating.
Keith sits on his stool. "This is 'I Got The Silver'....er, 'You Got The Silver.' Well, somebody's got it!" again, raggedy, torn & frayed, sublime, timeless. Here is the beating heart of this tour.
Then "Before They Make Me Run", sung and played better than I've ever seen it done. Keith looked tired tonight, but his playing and singing were NOT. No one in MY section left for the loo during Keith's set.
During " Out Of Control", which was stellar, I stealthily the b-stage, positioning myself at Keith's corner just as they ripped into "Rt. 66". Jesus. They are RIGHT THERE. I snap some pictures. Keith WINKS at me. That's a little scary. They're into "When The Whip Comes Down". It is IMPOSSIBLY good. Mick Keith & Woody stand facing each other bashing out the chords. Then a tech hands Keith his Les Paul Jr...it is a few feet away and I can see where the paint is worn off in a ragged circle, the bare wood shining through. I KNOW what's coming and I'm not sure my heart can take it. Midnight Rambler. I'm ten feet away from Keith Richards.
The problem with moments like this is a) they end and b) then it's hard to believe it actually happened, but I took pictures so tomorrow I'll have proof. Suffice it to say: it was a dream come true of the highest order.
I wander back to my seat, where security has relaxed, so I watch they Inevitables from the second row and take one last picture of Mick as he poses above me.
I strongly suspect that tonight's show was the best of the tour so far. Anyone who has a tape or video: PLEASE CONTACT ME. NOW.
The Pittsburgh classic radio station, 97. FM, gave us another hint the day of the concert: "Get ready for some real "gems, the Stones are diggin' deeper into their vaults"! (The Stones had already pulled out, "All Down the Line," in DC for us)! The surprises were: "BITCH," "GIMME SHELTER" and "FOOL TO CRY."
"Bitch" (from "Sticky Fingers," was such a good version this night. This song has been reported to be in response to Marianne giving the "boot" to Mick, (but who really knows, who cares, a great song). Super riffs from Keith too! "GIMME SHELTER" (Let It Bleed) threw me back to the B2B concert, as Lisa and Mick were at it again, playin' around and bringing out the "goodies" of the song! Charlie was wonderful on the rhythm. Keith was brutal, (in a good way) in his guitar work on this one. It's just great to experience such awesome work from all of the Stones on songs like GS!
(Sometimes, you can't distinguish between Keith and Ronnie, who is doing what, it's that, "ancient form of weaving," Keith speaks of. There's suppose to be a version of "Gimme Shelter," somewhere, with Keith on vocals, I'd like to hear that!)
"FOOL TO CRY," was really a surprise, this is the song where Keith was reported to have fallen asleep in Germany, on the 1976 Tour! From "Black and Blue," "FOOL TO CRY" was a welcome change, I enjoyed it!
We get five songs from the "Some Girls" album: SG, JMI, R, BTMMR and WTWCD! Lots of the other songs, The Warhorses are on my favorite Live album, "Flashpoint." Also there are four songs from the B2B album: OOC, SOM, TITN, and YDHTMI, so I guess the guys think that's enough from "Bridges." Still, I'd like to hear "GUNFACE," "TOO TIGHT" and "HOW CAN I STOP."
The Stones concert in Pittsburgh was a great show! What made it "almost" equal to the MCI show was the change-out songs. The MCI was better because the focus was totally on the "four" Stones and nothing else!
I really like Bernard and Lisa messin' around, but sometimes they get "out of control." They were all smiley last night and wavin' to all of us, they really are a fun bunch, the back-up band. I like Lisa and Mick doin' "it" tho! I mean Darryl keeps his place, doesn't try to over-do, and when Leah is up there on stage, she seems to know the old adage: "Less is More," too! as well as Blondie does.
The horn section is fine. Chuck "has" overdone it on occasion, but I guess that's what Mick wants, I really don't know. I'm just saying, that sometime the focus is taken off the STONES and the MUSIC, which is the whole point, right?
Thanks for a great concert, STONES! Not as good as the MCI 1 & 2, but almost!
I'm not the oldest fan or most experienced, but I did all I could to see shows on the B2B tour, my first ever coming in Philly in Oct. of 1997. I thought that was a gas.
But, when the boys came to my hometown, Pittsburgh, to play... gasp! ... our Civic Arena, I knew this was not to be missed. Still, I wondered, with Mick's recent "troubles" and throat problems, if the Stones would be inspired.
Having not seen any of the No Security shows before Pittsburgh, maybe this is not a fair statement, but I'd be willing to say you would be hard pressed to find a better performance than we got in Pittsburgh. From the set list, to the crowd, to Mick being at the very, very, very high, top of his game, this was a remarkable show. I'm glad to say I was there. It was magic, out of control, even.
Mick proved he is THE front man by keeping our rocks off all evening. And he brought me to tears with "Fool to Cry." And, well, Charlie was his usual steady, solid self. Ronnie was in another gear and Keith...well, as the crowd in the Igloo said...was, "Keeeeeiiiiiith."
Thanks to the Stones for a once in a lifetime performance. I waited for years to see this show, and left feeling as though the $150 for tickets was a bargain. And, if there is ANYBODY who has a boot of this show in Pittsburgh, please contact me at [email protected] I'd like to discuss obtaining a copy.
Thanks again, boys. See you next time around.
Thanks to Olaf Reuthebuch 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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