It's Only Rock'n Roll
A bliserting version of Honky Tonk Women got the crowd into the show. This song stands up very well on its own and is much better with just the music and without the huge blow-up dolls or numerous onstage dancers used at previous stadium shows during the song. I had never heard I Got the Blues played live before - great tune. Mick's voice held up well and the band sounded very tight on this song.
The early highlight of the show was Paint it Black. Keith nailed the opening guitar riffs and as soon as Charlie started pounding out the drum intro, the crowd was on its feet roaring its approval. Keith did a great job on his two songs - I'm glad we got to hear You Got the Silver. The three songs on the B-stage were fantastic and Mick really worked the crowd at this end of the arena.
The final five rockers to close the show were icing on the cake. Once the house lights came up, no one seemed to care that the show was over-we were all drained from the show and were happy to have witnessed another piece of rock and roll history.
Start time: 9:30 p.m. End time : 11:30 p.m.
The set list:
...said Keith before he started his set. The crowd really loved him being there, up front and sittin' on a stool in front of them. Don't know what happened, but after the beginning of YGTS, Keith said something like, ["we'll start this one again"]. It appeared as if the first licks of the song went haywire. The crowd didn't care because they just kept rootin' for Keith to begin. It was a bit of a change and I personally don't mind the "many possible things" which can go wrong during a show because it just makes that particular show different from the last one. Like a pro though, Keith got everything back on track, but he did change the lyrics some, like in: "You got the diamonds, from the [f---in'] mines." and other lines too. BTMMR was a stellar version.
HTW was really excellent and the crowd loved Lisa and Mick foolin' around. SOM also went very well. Such a nice sing along tune. I especially liked PIB on this night, I wish it had went on a bit more. OOC was another knockout and the B-stage got GOOMC as the change-out song. MR just gets better all the time. TD is becoming a favorite of mine, again. The woo-woo's were good tonight at the end of the show and SFTD really is suited for the encore song on the NO SECURITY Tour, the fans will get "(IDGN,) Satisfaction" on the B2B this summer. I know some were hopin' to hear it. Time and again, I heard fans yell out the title and hopin' for, "Satisfaction."
Charlie was great and in a good mood tonight, as was the rest of the band. Ronnie was somewhat subdued, but he is always fun to watch. The horns were great! Bobby fabulous! The new guys are learnin' from the best and they're soooooooo good!
Thanks Stones and Company, for a another great show!
I'm watching Jagger and Lisa-- because they're not that far away from where we’re sitting. I can hear the band really jamming, working a good groove. I keep watching Jagger and Lisa. And I become aware that Chuck Leavell must be jamming an amazing keyboard line. For some reason, my ears have zeroed in on a very clear, funky, barrelhouse, boogie-woogie piano solo that has suddenly jumped out from the mix of instruments. Way to go, Chuck.
The piano keeps playing, I'm watching Jagger and Lisa. The keyboard solo gets even funkier-- rings out crystal clear, and oh-so-funky-- even amidst the horns and roaring boogie of this climaxing "Honky Tonk Women."
Finally Jagger and Lisa step down behind the Chuck Leavell side of the stage. And there is Keith, guitar hanging off his chest, POUNDING the keyboard with a mighty left hand, racing his fist around the upper register of Chuck Leavell's keyboard. Chuck is leaning to the side, leaving plenty of room for Keith to jump in. The guitar is slung low, dangling around Keith’s waist. Keith's bracing it with his right hand, keeping it out of the piano's way. And he is roaring on the piano keys. He is utterly furious. The overhead TV monitor close-up shows Keith racing his left hand back and forth along the keys, stabbing a barrelhouse scale with unbelievable swiftness. Suddenly Keith wraps up the solo and lifts his leg. He kicks the piano keys with a Jerry Lee Lewis flourish, boot heel on the keyboard. He jumps back and shouts at Chuck, grinning and apologizing for smashing the piano with his boot.
I screamed at that point-- and shredded my throat for the evening.
But next up was "I Got The Blues"-- played just a hair faster in tempo than on STICKY FINGERS. But a heavy, heavy version. A dimly-lit pink and black and yellow stage, with a spookiness and low groove that only Zeppelin could equal with either "Since I've Been Loving You" or "Tea For One."
And not only was "I Got The Blues" a stunning blues tune, but Keith and Ronnie stood shoulder to shoulder in front of Charlie at the top of the song. Mick introduced the number as a "blues," and then they both started picking out the opening chords. But what left me breathless was seeing Keith and Ronnie play the first few verses with their eyes closed:
There's a moment in "I Got The Blues," between the first and second verses, when the song resolves to the I-chord for a moment, then hitches down to the V-chord for maybe two beats. It's a pause that signals the next verse. It's just a quick drop-down, a duh-duh: hit those chords-- then launch back up into the next line. It feels like a very quick swing, a quick loop-- the riding of a wave-- down and...back.
So what I saw was Ronnie and Keith picking away, eyes closed, totally focused on the song. And when they hit that drop down, both of them physically rode the groove: they leaned back at the waist, their shoulders dipping and pointing back toward Charlie, as they, in slow- motion, dropped backward with the pause of that drop-down. Then, as the two beats passed, they rode the groove back up upright, their knees smoothly propelling them back to a standing position, in time for the first beat of the next verse.
That sort of gracefulness took my breath away. And it convinced me that these guys absolutely feel the music, that they care.
And Jagger-- my God. Where has he been for the past 20 years? Yes, he's vicious and focused in the footage of the '81 Tour on LET'S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER. But this is a happy, enthusiastic Jagger-- one who couldn't possibly pour any more energy into the show than he's giving. On the little stage I saw an incendiary "Midnight Rambler"-- Jagger blowing a harp into Ronnie's face-- squalling riffs and expecting, demanding Ronnie to echo them on guitar. That "Midnight Rambler"-- which followed a racing, storming "Get Off My Cloud"-- convinced me that these guys can play. And don't forget, these are the Rolling Stones; they are faces in a magazine. They are famous for being famous. I didn't know that they actually play instruments, that they play live music. They are guys who lip-synch to videos, who appear on TV. They cruise around on yachts, drink fine champagne, live in rural Sussex, on 110-acre spreads.
But they can play blues, they can play rock `n roll. That "Midnight Rambler"-- with its fast rock 'n roll, and it's slow, dirge breakdown in the middle... I looked up, and there's the Stones on that little stage, in complete command. Boogieing, tapping their feet, looking out at the crowds of people and the masses of waving arms, and they just step up and crank more on their guitars-- totally aware that they've GOT these people. That they are chugging out a massive wall of blues-rock, that they can do it effortlessly-- and hold these people.
And even Charlie-- as focused as could be humanly possible. Little Charlie-- he bashed his crash cymabl at the end of "Bitch" with such force that it tilted, tipped for a second, started to fall over-- till angry Charlie grabbed that cymbal and yanked it back upright. Then next song, same thing. Like a shark, he rose up out of his seat, pounded the hell out of that cymbal-- so hard that it started to fall over, till he snatched it and planted it back again.
Charlie--angry? He played with such ferocity. His right hand on "Some Girls," ticking a backbeat on the snare. And him locking up with Darryl on "Midnight Rambler." They play jazz, you know? Listen to them ticking out a bum-bum groove while Ronnie and Keith trade licks on the "Didja hear about the Boston-- [CRASH]..." Darryl and Charlie are in their own place there. The guitarists can wail around, and play blues sludge. But the rhythm section, they know the deal. They have their own little beat dancing around. And listen to them on "Route 66" or "Bitch"-- they're moving into their own slick territory. They've got the groove working something slick underneath it all.
So what are we left with? Some sort of revitalization for The Stones. Maybe a bit too late. But I'll tell you this: I've seen bands rock as hard (giving it all they've got-- like Keith falling to his knees from the tricky effort of pulling off a quick riff in "Start Me Up"), but I've never seen a band rock harder. I just don't know how they do it.
And two closing observations: 1. Jagger changed the lyrics in the bridge of "Some Girls"; where it used to be to "Gimme all your money/ Gimme all your clothes," he repeatedly sang "Gimme all your money/ Gimme all your DOPE." 2. The crowds are so grateful to Charlie for putting up with these dumb fools, all these years. Thank you Charlie for still playing with the boys. The fans give him the biggest applause. And Charlie-- little Charlie-- remained on stage after the encore, waving at all the fans. Keith walked off, and Ronnie followed him, no more than a step behind. And Jagger lingered, and lingered, waving at the crowds on each side of the stage. But Jagger started to walk off, and there was Charlie, still nodding and looking up at the crowds, waving to them. He started to walk off. Came back to Keith's amp, waved in all directions again. Wouldn't walk off the stage till Jagger finally made his way to the exit.
You know what, by the way: my ears are still ringing. Keith plays incredibly loud. His tweed Fender amp, on the small stage, was aimed on an angle, right up to where we were sitting. My God-- it was loud. Unbelievable how much they rock, how hard they're trying. Not sure what it means, or what has driven them to put in such an effort.
Thanks to Ted Saxlid, D Lipple 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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