It's Only Rock'n Roll
Living In A
First Carly Simon comes. She's a guest of the hotel, and she is probably on her way to the show tonight. Dressed as glamorous as she was, and with a dress that could make any guy miss everything else while leaving, she made the introduction...
Mick comes walking, smiling, so relaxed, still I see he is a bit tense. He has got his daughter Elisabeth and his son James with him. Then he jums his car, and he is off to the venue...
Ronnie is next. With his wife Joe. Smiles, looks very happy. I am dreaming of the great solos he will do tonight.
Five minues later, then a nice looking couple is coming. Just by themselves. It's Mr. Charlie Watts and his lovely looking wife Shirley. Charlie looks like he might go shopping, but we all kmow he is out for the tour start of the greatest roclk'n'roll band in the world, right here in Boston, right here in about 3-4 hours time.
Keith comes, dressed in an army jacket, throwing out a comment to us. He looks great. All four are now on their way. I have to rush for the show...
Boston Sept 3, 5:00pm
There is so much to say, but I will give you the setlist first. Later on, when all the red confetti has been carefully collected, and all the memories are in place, I will tell you how wonderful Mick's harmonica was on Can't You Hear Me Knocking, and how Ronnie got the house to explode as he filled in the rest of that song with gutiar playing that made the goose hair stay through the show. A song to remember, one of the best ever...
More to come soon...
Boston Sept. 3, 11:50pm
Late night comments...
The sound was not perfect in the FleetCenter. For the first hour it was bumping around a lot, and it was hard to hear the words and what Mick and Keith said. Still, the band played well, and after an hour or so, it got a lot better.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking was the highlight. First Bobby Keys had his turn, with a long saxophone solo. Then Mick took over with his harmonica. Not a short and nice bit, but a howling, long set of brilliant harmonica playing, as he moves around like a snake, playing his harmonica, doing this great song live. But the best part is yet to come. I have been told about Ronnie's great playing on this song, but I did never expect such a treat. First he is giving us the better parts, the great riffs and solos. Then he is bringing the song to the higher level by adding some sound as true to the original as not even Mick Taylor would have done it. It was simply Ronnie's night... And as he finished, Keith came over from his laid back "maestro" postition with Charlie, having followed his band so far without doing much work himself, then just hogging Ronnie saying this was just great, indeed it was!
I have heard Satisfaction live so many times. I thought I was finished with it, heard all there is. But tonight's version was new to me. Not that it was all that different. But Keith had some riffs tonight I just got lost. Then Charlie backed him up with some amazing double beat drumming, and suddenly there was another dimention to this classic song. Needles to say, the crowd was wild.
Neighbours was another highlight. Not the regular version, but more like a rock'n'roll version. I was sure I could hear Chuck Berry on stage, but it was our boys doing their own riffs.
Love Train - a cover song I have never had live before. Made by the O'Jays in the 70's. Great fun like "I Can't Turn You Lose", which they rehearsed at the Gillette Stadium. I guess I have to get the original on CD when the stores open...
There is so much more to tell. The stage was simple, with a narrow part behind the boys, a screen that took up four sections of the arena. They used the screen to show split images of Ronnie, Mick, Keith and Charlie (in that order left to right), and it is great to see close-ups of each band member like that, not one by one, but at the same time. Luckily they did not over-do the use of the screen, it was used every now and then only.
Boston Sept. 4, 02:30am
The 40 Licks Tour starts right over here in the Fleet Center, nor a big stadium or dark clubhouse but the home of the greatest rock 'n roll band on earth, at least for tonight.
I saw the set list just before the concert and I was quite impressed because it wasn't going to be another No Security tour of BtB 1997-99. First came Street Fighting Man, a raw sound with short riffs and an angry voice of Sir Mick. Just after If You Can't Rock Me and IORR came the introduction that it was nice to start a tour in Boston!
Right So and then the new sound of the Stones with Don't Stop, although the fact that the single is not yet available in record stores, the song rocked and I was singing along just like with Saint Of Me. After some nice surprises came Rip This Joint, thanks to Bobby Keys a steamy refreshment. Oh, this was HOT.
And then, an old one, not Start Me Up but Tumbling Dice followed by Keith and quite a recent song from 1989, Slipping Away. Baby, I was waiting for this one since a very long time!!!!!!!!!!! Keith started with a guitar and started to sing without touching his guitar until the solo. Oh, I wa Happy although the Rolling Stones didn't played recent work from Flashpoint, Voodoo or Bridges... But who cares?
They made it up with a staggering Can't You Hear Me Knocking. I hope that people with stop with rumours that Ronnie doesn't belong to be a member, rubbish. I liked HTW because of the video with red tongue and a virtual lady. Where is the time to see pictures of Queen Elisabeth the Second... you can see clearly that Mick became a Sir recently.
I went close to the B stage and I was impressed to hear 3 great songs. The boys left the stage at the left and soon after the came back to the main stage with two classics, Sympathy For The Devil and Jumping Jack Flash. Yet again, you saw the tongue again, this time it wan't a red one but you saw the famous lick in flames just like the audience I think because the greatest rock 'n roll band are still top of the hill like an American should say and now I understand why you talk about SIR, superb - impressive and rock 'n roll, thanks to lord Richards, Ronnie the artist just as Master Watts.
Before I go to sleep, just not forget to mention the rest of the band and the engineers responsible for the stage and confetti machine! See it all again on Thursday and surprise surprise, the weather will be good on the field.
I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive about seeing the Stones on opening night. I was expecting some stage rust and some opening night stumbles, but damn damn damn, was I glad to be proven dead-wrong (for once).
I had an amazing floor seat on Ronnie's side of the stage, 2nd row (thank you Sam Goody)! Some song-by-song highlights:
Street Fighting Man kicked the show off wonderfully. I kept thinking about songs they might open with...I thought that they'd exhausted their supply of punchy opening numbers and that they'd have to go back to one of their previous tour openers, but this was a major treat. The band exploded onstage with some tough gritty guitar work and Mick stalking the audience as if his life depended on it. Great choice!
If You Can't Rock Me was fun to hear live and pretty faithful to the album version. It kept the energy level nice and high.
Don't Stop had a nice punchy beat to it, kind of like Beast of Burden (Mick's description actually, but it's accurate). A few confused people in the audience, but I enjoyed the song. I can't wait to hear the album version.
Stray Cat Blues sounded dirty and evil, more like the album version than on Ya Ya's, Keith opening with that ominous one-note drone. Wild Horses was beautiful, nice lead touches from Ronnie (more on him later) and great backing vocals from Lisa, Bernard and Keith.
The block of Exile songs was really a great idea (they'll be doing a block of songs from different albums every night...does it get any better than this??). Loving Cup was fun live, but I felt the chorus and Charlie's tub thumping wasn't mixed loud enough, so instead of exploding like on the album, it remained a bit subdued. Rocks Off really got the crowd rocking out, with the horns blaring like mad. Rip This Joint is another favorite of mine, but unfortunately Bobby Keys' sax solos were inaudible, at least where I was. No matter though: Keith and Ronnie were riffing like mad and made up for it.
Slipping Away was executed perfectly by everyone. It sounded 100x better than on Stripped. Keith is just the coolest guy...he's so expressive and nimble onstage, and he can coax the most beautiful blues out of his guitar with such little effort you'd think it was attached to him permanantly. Happy...what can I say? The crowd was begging for it, and he gave it to us!
Then Mick came back out with a great fedora and white overcoat and they did Love Train. I really had no idea what song this was (and neither did much of the crowd), but after the first chorus, everyone was totally vibing on it and it got a huge cheer at the end. A a real gem of a song.
Undercover of the Night was surprisingly punchy and the crowd got into it after Mick's awesome vocals echoed throughout the arena. Not one of my favorite songs usually, but they converted me after last night.
Okay, now the big surprise: CYHMK was unreal! I know that Ronnie had some issues with the bottle to clear up recently, and by the looks of it, he's finally gotten himself into shape. I thought the No Security tour was amazing, but the one thing that was weak was Ronnie's playing (or lack of playing, I should say). Luckily, he's back in the saddle, playing lead and slide guitar just like his old self, and CYHMK was undoubtedly the sweetest display of his newfound intensity and dedication to the guitar. The whole band was cooking, Keith's razor-sharp riffs, Mick's great vocals, Charlie pounding away and then playing the cool Latin rhythms at the end, the back-up singers playing percussion, Bobby with an awesome sax solo, then Mick with a fat, greasy harp solo that you couldn't help but close your eyes to and be overwhelmed by the bluesy perfection...and then Ronnie took over. He played pretty faithful to Mick Taylor's original leads, but then just before the song ended, he kicked it up a notch with some searing, screaming solos that overwhelmed the whole crowd. Ronnie got a big standing ovation, and I could tell that the whole band was so proud of how much ass he kicked.
Satisfaction...I didn't think it'd be possible for the Stones for make this song sound fresh, but damn, was I wrong...again! The greatest riff in rock history started up, and the crowd, already worked up to fever pitch, boiled over. Charlie was pounding away during the end of the song like I've never heard, hitting his bass drum double time towards the end to really bring the song to a crescendo, and Ronnie playing the riff as a solo instead of rhythm...the crowd was blown away again. I can't put into words how much energy these guys were putting into this show.
The B-stage songs were great. Mannish Boy sounded so dirty and mean, great harp again from Mick, and screeching slidework from Ronnie...again, this guy has really regained my respect, and I think the Stones sound so much better with him in top form. Neighbours is a song I don't much care for, but they re-worked it into a Chuck Berry-style rocker, and the crowd was loving Keith's Berry-isms and Charlie's massive skin pounding. Brown Sugar drove the crowd crazy, everyone doing the classic "Yeah Yeah Whoo!", hand gestures and all...Mick didn't even need to get the crowd started on this...we just jumped in and ran with it. After that, the Stones surprisingly exited through the opposite end of the arena, walking straight through the crowd.
Sympathy and Jumpin' Jack Flash were great encores (has there ever been a better encore song than JJF...EVER??). No radical changes to the songs from the previous tours, but they're crowd favorites that brought the show to a rousing close. No horn section accompanied JJF, unlike the last couple of tours when it was an encore, and I think it was great to keep the focus on the band and especially Keith's superhuman riffage. I couldn't help but air guitar like a maniac...
So, again, my hat's off to Ronnie especially, and the rest of the band for a brilliant, diehard-fan oriented setlist. I'm no expert, but I daresay this is the best the Stones have played in a long time (especially on opening night), and it will only get better as they get more and more loose. Don't miss this tour!!!
And they did it brilliantly with elegance and in a daring way by digging into their vast back catalog of songs, targeting them from a new and rejuvenated standpoint. They showed that no other rock band is able to compete fully in their field. Still they have the ambition to give old songs new life and deliver new goods perfectly.
This was the moment we had been waiting for since the last tour. To put it bluntly this was better than expected. Those of you that have been following IORR and know the group has rehearsed about 130 songs maybe nothing could have surprised you. But it turned out a surprise in many ways. The stage was finely designed, simple with a steely look and behind it was the largest video screen ever seen in an Arena or a Stadium. The band members seemed relaxed for this big moment, which it was for all of us. The sound was loud and clear. Every word Mick sang was heard. The guitars were clear and Keith and Ronnie have become better guitar players with the former soloing more and the latter still perfecting his slide.
Mick’s voice is in a great shape. His brilliant solo album Goddess In The Doorway definitely served as a great exercise to the LICKS tour. Charlie is the ever unbeatable time machine gluing their tight playing together, keeping everything in the right place. Chuck Leavell and Darryl Jones were solid as ever and the same applies for the backing singers, sexy Lisa Fisher, Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin. Bobby Keys was there too giving the right air to the music and the horn section Kent Smith, Michael Davies and. These guys sure know to pick their perfect coworkers.
The Rolling Stones swung into Street Fighting Man and then If You Can’t Rock Me from It’s Only Rock And Roll, which happened to be the next song. Then Mick picked up his guitar and started Don’t Stop, the new single, bearing the Jagger Hallmark, a great song which fires up the curiosity for the Paris recordings earlier this year. The next one was a gem, the rock singer’s tale of the 13 year old strange stray cat and her friend that could join in too, Stray Cat Blues. This one will stick to the memory for years to come. Wild Horses was something else, got a new life. The backup singers were simply great.
Then came what I had been hoping for. Mick announced The Exile On Main Street theme starting with Loving Cup from the Let It Bleed sessions and then of to Nellcote South France, Rocks Off, Rip this Joint and Tumbling Dice. Hard rock at it’s best specially the first one. Then Mick introduced the band and Keith wound into his legendary part, starting with Slipping Away from Steel Wheels and of course Happy to full enjoyment of the house. Then Mick jumped out clad in a long white vail and white hat to go with it. Love Train it was and Lisa up front with him. Mick then picked up the guitar again. Undercover, full thrust. Then it came to another gem. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking from Sticky Fingers was a kind of kissing the past goodbye. Ronnie did the solo his way, no Mick Taylor’s imitations, just showing his expertise. Honky Tonk Women was on with the animated video that is on the brick of not being fit for children, but it was interesting. Satisfaction sounded like a new song and we really got some.
Then the show rolled on to the small stage and back to blues. Mannish Boy was explicitly performed by the band core of six. Bobby joined them for the raw and raunchy Neighbours, a great swinging song and very welcome one. Brown Sugar had a refreshing new sound. There were two encores, a seven minute long version of Sympathy For The Devil and strong version of Jumping Jack Flash. Then the band took a bow and left the house. This first show of many to come was over, leaving everybody content. What can be said of this show is that it was rocking from the start, complete with enthusiasm and ambition. Striking factor was that the two guitar players are now more adventuresome then ever before. We can all look forward to a great Rolling Stones LICKS year. Hopefully the band will give us Some Girls theme at Gillette, but probably they will keep the themes for the Arenas and Theaters. There is a lot to look forward to. They did it again and the footage of the junkies on the video screen is a sticking memory along with HTW video. They still try to shock people but we want it also. Otherwise it would not be the Stones. They gave us a slice of the past with new flavour. We don’t ask for any more. That is the Rolling Stones.
The band was on stage around 20:50 and off 22:55 so they kept the curfew.
The Fleet Center was packed with the usual range of fans, from young here for the first time, to old who have seen it all. The stage is minimal, stripped down to even less than No Security. Not a single flash pot or blow up doll in town. The crowd pleasing B-stage is still part of the set up. Without warning at 8:59 PM the lights went out and the Rolling Stones took to the stage. When the lights came up, the full band, including Mr. Jagger had launched into Street Fighting Man. Followed quickly by the first of many songs I have never seen them do in my 16 previous shows, If you Can’t Rock Me… Somebody will. The band is onstage… IORR again and then we were among the first on the planet to hear the yet to be released single, Don’t Stop.
The next three were first timers for me, what a great number when they “scratched” into Stray Cat Blues. I could see some “casual” concert goers were beginning to get lost, but not the true Stones fans. With Keith on backing vocals, they slowed it down a bit for Wild Horses. Classic. The pace was just right, not too rushed, paused and Mick took some time to talk to the crowd a bit, mentioning how exciting opening a tour in America is. At the heart of the show tonight was Exile on Mainstreet, long one of my favorite albums. During this set we were treated to Loving Cup, very good; Rocks Off, Rip This Joint, Tumbling Dice…
Mick introduced the band and of course Keith took center stage for two songs, Slipping Away was nice. Somehow Chris was seeing Happy for the first time… Mick swaggers back onstage dressed in a full length white coat and hat. For something on the lighter side they covered 70’s band the O’Jays doing Love Train. What a sight this was! Kind of a feel good sing along number, quite entertaining, sounded good but I don’t know if this one will last. Undercover slipped in. The most ambitious song of the night was Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. Ronnie and Keith and the ancient art of weaving. This song was hard driven and the jam at the end lasted 10 minutes with Jagger finding ways to keep busy between harp and maracas. Speaking of Ronnie Wood, he is a new man, full of life and energy. Sleeveless T-shirts jumping and running, glad to be here.
Honky Tonk featured what might have been an R-rated animated feature. Pretty funny, likely to be edited in the future. Satisfaction was next and the war horses began to creep up. The band heads out across the runway to the B-stage. Ronnie hit a couple licks, Jagger warmed up the harp and Keith started into Mannish Boy reminiscent of the 1977 El Macambo recordings.
Neighbours, Neighbours, Neighbours how about those neighbours… The band is really jumping around the small B-stage. Jagger by the way has toned down the spastic moves of BTB and looks pretty good up there. The band pauses for a moment and Bobby Keys joins them – still on the B-stage. Just then they ripped open Brown Sugar. Usually Mick leads the crowd through the “yeah, yeah, yeah, whoo!” This time all he had to do was motion his hand, Boston was right there backing him up. Brown Sugar was big on the B.
Surprisingly after this number they said good night and took the steps off the B-stage. A narrow escape right through the crowd. I nearly fell out of the balcony leaning over in amazement, wondering what they were doing!
After a brief wait they re-appeared on the main stage for the encore. Under shadows of red and purple they pull off a classic version of Sympathy. Tommy Hilfiger was no where in sight when Jack Flash strips down to his oversized T-shirt bearing his own trademarked logo. Confetti is blowing through the air as the band finishes their final number. Two hours after the first chord, they were done.
Yet another Opening Night entertaining thousands of loyal Stones fans. Always an exciting event full of new stories and re-acquaintances with fans we have not seen since, well the last tour! I am glad to say when we move this show out to the stadium on Thursday night, we’ll be there too.
Thanks to Axel Schumacher, Germany for great research on news links! Also thanks to Norbert Ivanek, Austria and Alvaro Navas, Spain.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
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