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It's Only Rock'n Roll

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Tell Me

The Rolling Stones
Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, USA
Monday Sept. 16, 2002

The set list:

  1. Start Me Up
  2. Live With Me
  3. Rocks Off
  4. Hand of Fate
  5. Torn and Frayed
  6. Worried About You
  7. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
  8. Walk and Don't Look Back
  9. Dance
  10. Bitch
  11. Slipping Away (Keith)
  12. Happy (Keith)
  13. It's Only Rock and Roll (with Bono)
  14. I Just Want to Make Love to You (with Dr. John)
  15. Honky Tonk Woman
  16. Rip This Joint
  17. Can't You Hear Me Knocking
  18. Jumping Jack Flash
  19. Brown Sugar
  20. Tumbling Dice (encore)

Review by Neil Morganstein

The crowd went crazy as Bono joins the boys for I Know Its Only Rock n Roll. Bono does some improvising with going to a gogo and changes the lyrics to going to Chicago. The first part of the the show features more rarities including a Peter Tosh cover as well as a bluesy version of I Just Want to Make Love to You. The Stones always finish strong with the classics Bitch, Honky Tonk Woman, Jumpin jack flash, Brown Sugar and Tumblin Dice as the only encore. Overall the smaller venue allows Mick to really connect with the audience. The acoustics were rough , but the sound men could do a better job.

Review by Robert Bagel

The entire evening was based on the decades-old notion that "It'd be great to see the Stones in a small place." After hearing the Shepherd's Bush 1999 show I was ready for this opportunity, even though the Aragon is much larger than the tour's small venues in Boston, Philly, NY, or LA. This turned out to be good, as we were blocks back in line waiting to get in, but upon entering there was ample room on the main floor. I was able to get a spot straight out from Keith's side, what would be about 20 rows back in an arena or stadium.

The set lists for the small clubs have been intriguing, which leads to many questions. First, why is a more esoteric set list automatic for a smaller venue? It cannot be because there are more sophisticated fans at these small gigs. In fact, pure economics leads to the opposite conclusion: the Aragon gig was MUCH less expensive for good seats compared to the United Center or Comiskey. So, the crowd seemed much younger and in fact I talked to several people of college age who were seeing the Stones for the first time because they were lucky enough to get tickets. I think these people would have loved the so called "stadium hits" over the rarities. I heard one young man remark after Everybody Needs Somebody to Love that "They are doing a lot of covers so far", when all prior songs were Stones originals, albeit not radio favorites a young casual fan could relate to.

But the rarities did set the evening apart. Rocks Off was familiar for enough of the crowd to be a raucous sing along. Hand of Fate was extraordinary with Ron and Keith trading those ominous guitar licks as the song unwound. I wondered if Mick would do the "Charlie boy" vocals as on the recorded version, but he did not. Torn and Frayed was extraordinary, without Bernard, Lisa, or Blondie on backing vocals. Keith did very soulful harmonies along with guitar, recalling that the post-1960s appeal of the Stones draws as much from Merle Haggard or Gram Parsons as it does from Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolf. Worried About You was overwhelming, from Mick's perfect vocals to Ron's flawless guitar parts. This song could move into arenas or stadiums just fine, as Memory Motel or Fool to Cry has on recent tours. The Peter Tosh song Walk and Don't Look Back was both fun and sad, as the fact that Tosh opened the 1978 Chicago show yet is no longer with us came to mind. Dance, from the Emotional Rescue album, chugged with an extraordinary beat, led by Darryl Jones' bass. The song didn't sound disco, it just sounded like heavy heavy funk. As the song developed and got you thinking about Max Romeo's wonderful and crazy sounding vocals on the recorded version, Lisa Fischer did a fantastic job providing that part. For me this was far above anything she could ever do on Gimme Shelter. Thank you Lisa!

The part of the evening most everyone will talk about came during It's Only Rock and Roll. There was general disbelief for several seconds as Bono of U2 appeared in a neat black suit, his hair seeming shorter or more slicked back than on the Elevation Tour. He stood hesitating near Charlie for a while, and then joined Mick front and center. Twisting the usual lyrics, Bono sang to Mick "Do you think that you're the only man in town?" Mick planted tongue in cheek and rolled his eyes, making for an extraordinary rock and roll moment that was nothing short of classic. Bono seemed a bit stiff in his black suit, in the midst of the literally rolling Stones who had already sweated well through their colorful garb. As Keith interacted with Bono, and Ronnie sneaked in behind hitting Bono in the ass with the neck of his guitar, the U2 singer loosened up. This paid off with Bono doing great ad-libs as he does with his own band's songs, singing "Going to a go-go" during the usual "I know it's only rock'n'roll" part, evolving it into "Going to Chicago", which Mick joined in on. Bono then went on with the "I like it" portions, expounding further into how he "Loves Keith" and "Loves SIR Mick". Bono got off a few characteristically great screams of "I like it!" before he vanished from stage as quickly as he appeared. Even controlling for the easy guest appearance appeal of it, this was one of the very highest points of the show.

The late treats in the show came in the form of Rip This Joint and Can't You Hear Me Knocking, with the latter such a well organized journey through Bobby's sax, Mick's harmonica, and Ron's guitar-all the while Charlie, Darryl, and Keith nailing the rhythm-that I hope it becomes as much a part of every set as Jumping Jack Flash.

In conclusion, I can say if you don't have tickets to the Tower Theatre, Roseland, or the Wiltern, do not despair. Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, or Honky Tonk Women are just as good in an arena or stadium. And seeing the Stones make a huge place seem intimate is perhaps seeing the band at its best: witness Like A Rolling Stone last Friday at Comiskey. It is the song selection of the small venues that brings the experience to a higher level, and adding someone like Bono to a song does not hurt. But any of those esoteric songs would play well to just as high a percentage of people in an arena or stadium, and would surely play well to a higher absolute number of people. Seeing the Stones in a small venue in and of itself is not any more special than the pure pleasure of just seeing the Stones.

Review by Flynn Welles

This is one concert I'll never forget!

One poor fan, (a little spacey) she yelled from outside the "double windows" of the ARAGON: "I'm here Mick, they wouldn't let me in"! Poor thing, I really felt for her, I know first hand how it feels, being "ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN." Another guy kept yelling "Open the "f-cin' windows," and then he said: "Open the "f-cin' windows, can't hear, it's too cool out here."

I thought, "that guy, he musta been in BOSTON at the ORPHEUM and watched all those VIPS filing out, EARLY in the show"! Anyway, the antics of the crowd were absolutely hilarious! Ya shoulda been there.

I met Rich there, (he usually posts a review here on IORR) and we were crackin' up the whole time. Honestly, we had pretty good places. I was on Keith's side, as usual.

DANCE was really great, I'm so glad to hear this tune! BITCH was well done!

Then it was Keefs turn. I couldn't believe it, cause I'd just said to Rich, I hope Keith does HAPPY, and shit, he did HAPPY, (great rendition too)! Later in the set I said, hope they do RIP THIS JOINT and damn, they did RIP THIS JOINT!

Great sound too! I have to say that "CAN YA HEAR ME KNOCKIN'", ("open the f-cin' window" ha, ha) really rocked! God, Ronnie is great on this, lot's better than that MT ever was!

I told Rich: "they won't forget JUMPIN' JACK FLASH"! He said "They won't." And, they didn't!

Well, the ARAGON fans were wild, inside, as well as outside the ARAGON. Great show guys! Thanks - a - bunch!

Review by Jeff Kopp

I now know what Ted Williams must have felt like when he hit a home run in his last major league at bat. Talk about going out with a bang and a flourish.

That's how I felt last night halfway through the Rolling Stones concert at the 4,500 seat Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. I was seeing the greatest rock n' roll band in the world for probably my last time. And they hit it out of the ballpark.

I have seen them perform since 1975 in Chicago, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and now Ihad come full circle back to Chicago. I don't know if they can keep doing this, but I am pretty sure I am done doing this. Out with a flourish.

What a night, what a concert, what a band.

First to set the table: The Stones announced the tour back in March stating that they would play three venues in each of the major cities: An Arena, A Stadium and a small theater or club. Wow! Tickets go on sale in May for the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. I had seen Aerosmith there in 1978 and the Kinks in 1977. A great rock n' roll venue. I started trying to work all my Chicago contacts to cover this from all angles. I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be able to just call Ticketmaster or go on-line and get two tickets to this thing.

I had people lined up in Chicago to call in, people lined up in New Orleans to call in, people lined up everywhere to try to get through to Ticketmaster via the more rural areas that were likely to have less activity than the main numbers in the big cities. I myself decided to try the New Orleans number. Tickets were scheduled to go on sale at 8:00AM Saturday Morning. I started calling at 7:55AM and couldn't even get past the fast busy tones indicating the lines were already tied up. Tick tock, tick tock.

Fuck it. I'm jumping onto the internet via DSL at Hyperspeed. Fortunately I had set my account up in advance with Ticketmaster so IF I got through it would just be one stop shopping. I got in and every time I hit the "buy 2 tickets" button the system kept telling me it was busy! Shit, Shit SHIT! Luckily the Gods were smiling, because suddenly I didn't get the busy message and it accepted my order! Then it gave me a confirmation number! I was IN! The message told me I would need a government issued picture I.D. and the credit card I used to make the purchase in order to pick up the tickets at will call in Chicago on September 16th.

As the weeks passed by I became more and more paranoid that I was going to lose my credit card or that it was going to be stolen. And then one day I was looking at the card and realized that the signature line had completely rubbed away and it said VOIDVOIDVOIDVOID. So I took a sharpie and resigned the signature area over the erased line. And then I locked up the card.

Then on August 24th I received a non-descript looking letter in the mail. No return address. No idea who or what it was from. I almost tossed it away unopened but then changed my mind and read it. It was the confirmation letter from The Stones telling me what I had to do in order to get these tickets. I had to tell them NOW today, 8/24 who I was bringing with me. If I had waited one day to open that letter...

So now it's September 15th and we have flown in to Chicago. First thing's first. We are going to get these Goddam tickets NOW. There is no way I'm going to wait until the day of the show to pick them up. So Barbara and I rented a car and drove directly from O'Hare to the Araagon and went to the front door. Chicago's finest were everywhere and you had to show a copy of the letter that I almost threw out unopened to the security guy in order to get inside. Once inside, it was a breeze: Show the I.D., verify my address and now two Stones tickets with the accompanying wrist bands were ours. We were There!

We met my sister in Wrigleyville for pre-show festivities on the 16th, and then drove over to the theatre at 7:40PM. The Show was scheduled to start at 8:00PM, but I figured they wouldn't come on until 9:00PM at the earliest. But I had come too far to take any chances so we went to the Aragon and parked on a side street. There was an enormous line cueing all the way around the building. We got in the line and slowly made our way inside. They checked our wrist bands, took our stubs, patted me down and WE WERE IN!

There were no seats although it looked like there may have been seating in the balcony that surrounded the perimeter of the ballroom. Some people had green bands in addition to the red "Licks" bands which may have gained them admission to the balcony. We moved close to the stage left side -- World of Keith -- and waited. This was General admission and you had to be prepared to stand all night long. We were about 12 yards in front of Keith's side. Okay, Let's go Stones.

Dr. John came on and ran through his set. Now came the moment we were waiting for. Finally.

At 9:15PM Keith strode to center stage in the dark as the announcer said "Ladies and Gentlemen, as they complete their Chicago Trilogy -- THE ROLLING STONES" and Keith hits the opening chords to "Start Me Up". Bam! Off and running! Next came "Live With Me" and we were shouting out the words in unison with Mick. (Or maybe it was just me and I was so loud and obnoxious it just sounded like everyone else was singing too).

Now comes "Exile" time -- "Rocks Off" is right on the money with the full brass section including Bobby Keys and then "Hand of Fate" kicks in and we are smokin'! What a great song and long overdue in being played live. After this the back-up players left the stage and now it's just the core group for "Torn and Frayed" with Keith harmonizing -- and sounding good! with Mick.

Time to slow down and catch our breath as they launch into "Worried About You" from "Emotional Rescue" and Mick hits ALL of the falsetto parts. And the song really builds and cooks into a great potboiler of a soul tune.

Next comes "Somebody to love" and "Walk and Don't Look Back". The first one getting everybody to sing "I need you, you, you!" and most people not understanding the connection between "Walk and Don't Look Back" with Peter Tosh and The Stones (He recorded the song on Rolling Stones Records).

More funk with "Dance, Pt. 1" and then right into "Bitch" with the horns back on stage.

Mick takes his break and Keith does a beautiful, soulful version of "Slipping Away", taking his guitar off and putting it to his side to really focus on the singing. And he sounded crystal clear and great. And then he switched guitars -- Open "G" time -- and told us Chicago made him so "Happy" and it's back to "Exile" land with all cylinders cranking.

Home stretch now. Mick comes back out and "It's Only Rock & Roll". Everybody's grooving along singing "I Know It's Only Rock N' Roll, But I Like It" when someone in a dark suit and sunglasses saunters onstage. Double take -- It's Bono! No One seemed to realize it so I turned around and started spreading the word. The place jumped to "11" as the house realized who was on stage. Now Mick and Bono were trading verses and making up lyrics. Bono looked at Mick and sang "Do you think you're the only BOY in town" and then switched to "Going to A Go Go" which he then changed to "Going to Chicago". Keith was pushing the music and smiling and laughing at the whole thing. Wild, Wild Applause. A Great Rock moment.

Now Dr. John came on for "Wanna Make Love to You", which was the slower bluesier version not the up tempo one the Stones originally recorded in 1964.

And now the finales: "Honky Tonk", "Rip This Joint" and then the second huge highlight "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" from "Sticky Fingers". This was true to the original with the great Keith Chordy Intro leading into the extended jam with great solos from Bobby Keys, MJ on Mouth Harp and Woody on the extended guitar solo. This one smoked.

Then it was "JJ Flash" and "Brown Sugar" and they're off.

"Tumbling Dice" was a solid encore and then the big group bow followed by the core group bow-- Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie.

What A show. Amazing show. The Stones were in rare form. As I was watching it I thought of the Ted Williams analogy and thought "This it for me. I can't possibly see them any better or funkier than this. This is my Swan Song with The Stones."

Thank you and good night. I'm sure I won't see them again.

Unless somebody's got a an extra ticket for The Wiltern in L.A...

Review by Clayton Reed, Hope, ID

This show was outstanding! I saw all of the Chicago shows and this one was head and shoulders above the rest. I am going again in November to the Tacoma Dome as I have relocated after the Chicago shows. I know that I will never see a better show than this as I was literally 5' from the stage on Ronnie's side. The interaction between the band and the fans was great and when Mick threw water on us it was truly heaven sent.

I have only one complaint from a lot of the reviews that I have read and it concerns the comparisons between Mick Taylor and Ron Wood. I have heard several bootlegs with Mick Taylor and with Ron Wood and with all due respect to Ron Wood he can't hold Mick Taylor's jock! One needs only to hear Mick's leads on Dancing W/ Mr. D, Love In Vain, Midnight Rambler or You Can't Always Get What You Want to realize this. Mick Taylor has a live album out from 1999 that still illustrates how good he is. He plays Can't You Hear Me Knocking and tars up his lead. Ronnie is great and is playing better than he has in a long time but Mick Taylor is still supreme! Thank You for the sounding board.

Review by Mike Newman, Michigan, USA

I drove 4 hours on a hunch that an old friend might be able to get me a ticket and it paid off. In fact I was even able to get a ticket for a fan from Sweeden who I had never met before. By the time I got in to town at 3pm there was already a large line full of hardcore fans waiting to get the best spots once the doors opened. I have done the GA scene many times for other shows and wasn't in the mood today so I bummed around Chicago for a few hours and arrived back at the Aragon around 6pm.

The Aragon was pretty much what I expected inside. It had an old, dumpy charm to it. The ground was flat and the stage was quite high for a room this size which ended up being good for everyone. Dr. John put on a very strong set and was a perfect opener for the Stones. He also had a female singer with him and I don't know her name but she had an amazing voice. Once Dr John's set was over, I waited what seemed like the longest 20 minutes or so of my entire life!!!!

Right around 9:30, the lights dimmed and Michael Cohl introduced the band. After a long wait (over 2 years) since my last show I was totally pumped for this show. Seeing the Stones in a place like this was a dream come true. They ripped into Start Me Up and everyone could just sense that this was a special night. The band was on a serious high tonight. Lots of energy and smiles all around. I ended up about 5 rows back on the extreme right hand side. The sound was just awesome compared to the usual Stones experience. I could actually feel Charlie's kick drum vibrating in the floor. The setlist was a fan's dream. The highlights for me were Worried About You with Mick nailing the falsetto, Ronnie's guitar solo on Can't You Hear Me Knocking, Bono showing up on IORR, and positively the most brutal Jumping Jack Flash I have ever heard.

This is one of those rare times when I was literally completley drained both physically and emotionally after a show. After being packed like a sardine for 2 hours I was totally soaked in sweat and dazed by what I had just witnessed. Even after seeing Tower a week later, it may be tough for anything to top this experience. I had been starving for the Stones for 2 years and they came through with one of the most intense, amazing shows they have played in recent memory. Great crowd, great venue and an unbelievable show. I seriously considered selling my other tickets after this show because I truly felt that it would be impossible to top. I mean really, what more do I need to see ? much for that idea!!!

Press reports:

Thanks to Jim Pietryga for the great photos on this page!
Thanks to Barry M., Arno Kl´┐Żnter and Corinne for links information.

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For details and great photos from the Rolling Stones and their World Tour get IORR 45 due out by mid September 2002.

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