It's Only Rock'n Roll
Start time: 9:00 End time : 11:10
During Tumblin Dice, Mick gave the crowd up front a little shower with his water bottle and sported a cowboy hat as he took a walk up the runway.
Ronnie got a longer ovation than usual during the introductions, prompting Mick to say, Are you finished? Mick put a hat a Charlie when he was introduced tonight. Charlie seems to be smiling an awful lot these days.
We got an incredible version of Satisfaction tonight. The best that we've heard on this tour. Watching the Stones on HBO last Saturday, one could have believed that the centerstage set was in a small pub somewhere if he did not know otherwise. They really put on a great show during this set tonight. The lighting during Midnight Rambler was unbelievable. The entire stadium was dark except for the outline of the stage for a minute or two prior to the climax of the song. The lights went off and on during the end of Midnight Rambler making this a truly remarkable experience.
Although it is hard to believe, there are still tickets available for tomorrow night's show. If you can make it, don't miss it. The forecast calls for a low of -2 tomorrow night. We will be happy to meet the Stones on a cold Chicago night.
The opening combination of You Got Me Rocking and Street Fighting Man was refreshing, mixing it up a bit in a way that seemed mindful of the songs that were played here last year. The only real rough spot was an endearingly sloppy Wild Horses, which began with Keith sounding like he was starting Honky Tonk Women. Mick animatedly snapped the fingers of his left hand, as if to help Keith bring down the tempo. The song eventually took shape, with Keith sounding great in his country singer back up vocal mode. The theme for the night was Exile, though it was never officially declared with the album cover displayed on the video screen as has been the case with many shows in the past. Sweet Virginia, Tumbling Dice, and Rocks Off came off with a relaxed ease which made it clear that there were no HBO cameras to pander to. This was a show for the people in the building, and that made it seem all the better.
For Keith's songs, he remarked how cold it was in Chicago before playing an excellent set of Slippin' Away and a perfectly crisp Before They Make Me Run (more great song selection as he played The Worst and Happy last time here). Keith's set seemed to be over way too early for as good as he was playing the front man tonight.
Before I could dwell on how I would have liked to hear more Keith songs, Mick came back for a smoking Gimme Shelter, with Lisa Fischer earning the crowd's adoration with her extraordinary vocals. When the Stones moved to the small stage, the great surprise of the night took place with Midnight Rambler. A staple of the main stage for most of the LICKS tour, this song sounded great from the middle of the United Center, with a serious, focused Ronnie sounding his best, Keith chugging out rhythms in a nearly unbelievable fashion that demonstrates why he's the best guitar player ever, and Mick working the crowd and his band with the confidence that his boys are kicking ass. To see Midnight Rambler played like this is as good as rock and roll (or pretty much anything in life) gets!
Brown Sugar finished the small stage, and then Jumping Jack Flash was the single song encore from the main stage. It would have been great to get Sympathy For the Devil as part of a two song encore, but I guess that leaves us hoping for something tomorrow.
It was excellent to see the Stones mixing it up, doing different songs, and overall keeping it fresh. Mick's new sparkly Stones tongue maroon T-shirt was much appreciated by those who recognized the color as that of the local university which bears the city's name. If Mick is playing to those local allegiances, it is another aspect by which to celebrate Chicago as a rock'n'roll/blues town.
Ron was the least cartoonish I've seen him in years. He was playing his leads with great confidence, and not with the rather endearing "hey, I think I can do it" grins he had in September. He now knows he can do it. He played exceptionally well.
Keith and Mick were more steady and workmenlike (at their high levels) than during the last trip. I thought Mick wasn't in quite as good a voice, and he was dancing and singing with a bit less conviction. His harp solo on CYHEK was a little weak. Keith was obviously having a great time.
The four song break of Live With Me/Wild Horses/Sweet Virginia/Rocks Off was generally well received by the crowd. I was glad to meet those old friends again.
Satisfaction WAS great. It was taken at a fast tempo, which helped. Midnight Rambler was the performance highlight.
Minor quibbles: (1) I don't think You Got Me Rocking is an effective opener. The song itself is fine, but it doesn't led itself to the roar of recognition and excitement shared by some of the other songs. (2) The band was more tight and professional than in September. As Greg Kot wrote in the Tribune last time, this band is best when it's sloppy and working on the groove. (3) A little more song variation would still be nice. (4) I can't remember the last time I saw them in Chicago in a non-stadium show and they didn't do an old blues tune or two (or at least Chuck Berry). This is Chicago. We can take it! We want it! The music started here! Give it back to us! (5) (And where is "Heart of Stone?"
Ryan Adams sucked. A guy in the crowd said he was a big Adams fan, thought his Whiskeytown and solo albums were great, but agreed that he sucked last night.
One final note. I had an experience I didn't expect. I had bought tickets a while ago and sold them when my son didn't want to come. After seeing the HBO special, he decided we had to go. I dialed up Ticketmaster, and they had two on the club level behind the stage. When we arrived at the statdium, after a long time at the window, the ticket guy came back and said that our original tickets were obstructed view, and would we mind if we took some $350 seats in section 101, row 13? We accepted his apology. Great upgrade!
Thanks, and keep them coming.
Thanks to Axel Schumacher, Rina Bloch and B. Miller for news links.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe