It's Only Rock'n Roll
The set list:
Start time : 8:55 p.m. End time : 11:05 p.m.
The Stones were on stage after a 35-minute break. They start the show so strong. The crowd around us seemed to really like Don't Stop. It was just the boys on stage until Live With Me when Bernard and Bobby joined them. Before the Exile set, Mick told the audience, "Cleveland is the only place you can see them in a museum and on stage on the same day."
Tonight the old favorites sounded fresh and new, such as Rocks Off and Tumblin' Dice. Mick was using the B-stage runway a bit, and he was showing off some new moves.
After Charlie was introduced, he threw a drumstick into the crowd. Charlie looks like he's having a great time.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking continues to be a show hightlight. They could play that song another 10 minutes and we all would still want more. When the song is over, you remember to breathe and then just say "wow, amazing, how can they top that?" You wouldn't think that Satisfaction would do it, but it works, and it works well. The Stones play these songs as if they love the songs so much, they keep pouring their heart and soul into the presentation.
The B-stage looks like a guitar - the runway is the arm of the guitar, and the B-stage is the body. There are lights along the runway that look like frets. While they were playing the B-stage songs, the B-stage seemed like a little guitar island and the Stones were pulling us onto their island - and we all wanted to be there too. They had every corner of the arena involved and wrapped up into the music. It's such an amazing experience.
A funny thing happened after the B-stage; everybody left to the rear of the arena except for Keith. Keith ran up the runway to the stage and then started laughing. They all regrouped and then played a great Midnight Rambler and Jumpin' Jack Flash. For some reason, the B-stage was being taken apart duing the final two songs, which is quite a distraction.
The sound in the Gund Arena was great, loud and clear, no distortion. The show was over too soon as usual. Here we come Toronto!
We're both big fans of Elvis Costello and he did a great job opening up, especially with a closing run of 4 of his best hit songs. By 8:55 pm, Keith was on with the opening chords of Street Fighting Man and we're off and running. It's Only Rock 'N Roll was one of the best versions I've seen. Keith did some great improvised riffs and rhythm playing on this one. If You Can't Rock Me continues to sizzle on the tour. Don't Stop was outstanding. The crowd was really into it. The guitar work was top notch. My first time hearing it on stage since 40 Licks was released, and it was better than the album version, which I love, too. Mick made the quote of the night early in the show. "Cleveland is the only city where you can see the Rolling Stones in the museum and on stage in the same day." A great reference to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame being just a few blocks from Gund Arena. Live With Me was up next and the show continues to take off. A rock solid first five songs. Then we got an extended Exile on Main Street set. Five songs for that. Usually it's only four, or even three. We were treated to Sweet Virginia. My first time seeing it live, and it was awesome. Mick's harp was right on . I was forced to make a bathroom run during Loving Cup. The funny thing is, I've already heard it twice on the tour (Fleet and MSG) so I wasn't as upset. I still hated missing a single second. The sound was still great in the men's room! I'm spoiled I guess. Only the Stones could give me a great song like that, three times already! I was back for All Down The Line. Another favorite that I'd only seen at the Orpheum, so it was great to have it again. I figured Tumblin' Dice would be next to close out the Exile theme. But they went into Rocks Off! Keep it going...more more, more. Mick said to the band, "We're still doing Exile!?!" And they blast into Tumblin' Dice. One of the best versions I've seen and heard. After that Mick joked, 'Well, it was a double album!"
Time for band intros and they all got a good laugh as Mick seemed to forget Tim Ries' last name for a moment. "on sax and keyboards, Tim..............??.........Ries" Charlie got a huge ovation and threw a drumstick into the crowd. We don't see that every night. It was a magical evening. Lots of smiles from the whole band and fooling around.
Keith was then up for Slipping Away, beautiful as ever. The black and white video screen adds to the effect. Before They Make Me Run was one of the best I've heard (I know I've been saying that a lot for this show..but it is true.) Keith was on cue for his vocals, though he did skip the first half verse. The gem here was the guitar work. Ronnie and Keith were excellent on the solos. In step with each other the whole way and Ronnie was nailing his part.
Mick returned for Start Me Up followed by Can't Turn You Loose. I continue to love these soul and R&B covers. The groove was solid and Keith was feeling it. He threw down some great rhythm lines and of course lots of energy. Honky Tonk Woman was a pure party. Played great and with Lisa Fischer flirting with each guy in the horn section. Grabbing them, running her hands through their hair. When she got to Bobby Keys, he nearly started his solo too early. They all had a great laugh. The boys were playing the song perfectly with great energy. Even Chcuk Leavell's keyboard solo ended with the foot stomp on the last key and a forceful point to the camerman by Chuck, right on the beat. It really worked well and you could see hunger in everybody's eyes on stage.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking keeps on soaring high. Mick's harp was on fire. He really kicked it up a notch on harmonica all night. Keith always says that you see the pure, unadulterated Mick Jagger when he's on blues harp. Ronnie added some new twists to his solo. Different, but still awesome. The song cooked for a good long time. Satisfaction was harder and hotter than normal. The crowd's energy really made the band kick it up a few notches.
They made their way down to us for the b-stage and proceeded to blow us away. Stray Cat Blues was perfect. It's just made for the small stage. Near the end, Darryl Jones was grooving with some nasty bass lines. Like A Rolling Stone was outstanding. I felt like I was at the '97 pay-per-view concert in St. Louis. Keith's backing vocals were great. Mick's energy was off the charts. Brown Sugar nearly blew the roof off. This song has so much energy and it can barely be contained on the small stage. Mick's passion, Charlie's booming beats, Ronnie rocking and Keith doing his trademark human riffs. Body everywhere, a zigzag of motion on each chord. My photos should be excellent. Throw in Bobby's sax solo and Chuck's keyboard and you've got a perfect song.
Everyone exited through the back. except for Keith. He trotted right down the catwalk back to the main stage, laughing, with a real spring in his step. Classic moment. We then heard a quick hit of the bongo track on the PA. I thought we were getting Sympathy For the Devil in the encore. A few minutes later, it's Mick howling the opening sparse harp notes of Midnight Rambler! Just what I wanted to hear. This song is so good on the main stage. They really drive it hard and with great force. Rambler was top notch. Guitars could not be contained. Awesome interplay between the band to set the pace and make tempo changes. The slow down simmered perfectly and bubbled under the surface for a good long time. Mick added a great vocal twist on "...honey, it's not one of those." Lots of nastiness and low growl. Jumping Jack Flash finished us off with confetti raining down and high energy. Keith continues to go wild. This is the song to watch Keith do his thing. He never wants it to end.
A great show with 5 songs from Exile, a b-stage set that was off the hook, and Rambler in the encore. We got both blues long form jams with Can't You Hear Me Knocking and Rambler. That is special. Plus all the rest, done in near perfect fashion, always getting better and better.
Afterwards I met back up with my uncle and 16 year old cousin. First show for him, while my uncle has seen nearly every show in Cleveland over the last 30+ years. He says they've never been better. My cousin is a die hard now. My buddy is a casual fan and he was blown away, saying that every band should do a small stage set. He hadn't seen the Stones since '94. We all want to be in New York for the HBO show in January. We'll find a way, along with some other friends. This thing is far from over. Just a little break for me until Montreal in January and hopefully many more, as well.
This has always been a Stones town. Classic rock radio station played Stones for 24 hours on Monday. Lots of great rare stuff. "Out of Time" "Dancing With Mr. D" "Far Away Eyes" "Moonlight Mile" "Winter" and much more (just during the little bit that I was able to listen.). Much of it by listener request. Lots of rare interview clips with Mick and Keith talking about classic songs. Keith telling how Start Me Up was done as a reggae track over and over with just one take by he and Charlie as straight ahead rock. That was one they came back to when they recorded the song for the album. Great stuff. Keith doing the vocal riff as reggae during the interview clip. A beautiful fall day in Cleveland with Stones wall-to-wall. All bars and restaurants near the arena were blaring Stones music...all of them! They were all packed before and after the show.
Elvis Costello put on a solid high energy performance as the opener. I'm not sure how he got the gig, he even mentioned that he was surprised to be opening for the Stones, but I'd recommend that they add him to more shows if possible. He played a tight powerful mix of his best songs. Everything from "I don't want to go to Chelsea" to "Radio,Radio" & "Watching the Detectives".
The Stones hit the stage just before 9:00 to the thunder of Street Fighting Man. My Stones tour experience goes all the way back to '75, and it still is amazing at how they just keep getting better and better. It was great to see them come out alone for the first few songs. Just the Stones on an open stage set, rolling through It's only Rock 'n' Roll, If You Can't Rock Me, and into the new Don't Stop. I had only heard the studio version of Don't Stop a couple of times, but the song really works well live.
We were treated to a five song Exile set tonight. This was such a great show for long time fans. Those in the crowd who have been with the Stones for a long time really enjoyed the focus of this show. The guys seem to be playing not only more than the "Hot Rocks" set, they are playing songs they themselves enjoy. It is very clear that they are all having the time of their lives when they are on stage. When Keith took over for Slipping Away, my wife and I both commented on how he looks absolutely blissful.
The Stones were doing a nice job of varying the set tonight. I've been reading the other reviews, and waited in anticipation of what most fans thought they'd never experience - Can't You Hear Me Knockin!! This has always been one of my favorites, and tonight was awesome. We were treated to great long leads by Bobby on Sax, Mick on the Harmonica, and Ronnie on guitar. The biggest impact on this tour for me is Ronnie's playing. He is well focused, and taking more leads. His weaving with Keith has really brought the guitars to their rightful place, which is right out front.
After a fantastic version of Satisfaction, they were off to the "B" stage. It was here that we were treated to another of my all time favorites, Stray Cat Blues. It was played closer to the studio version, with a raw dirty feel to it. The sound tonight was good for the Gund, but overall it isn't noted for having great acoustics. The show was varied yet again tonight, in that Mick said goodnight from the "B" stage, and all of the guys, except Keith went out through the crowd rather than back down the runway. Keith made his own way back up the runway to a darkened stage. After a brief break, they roared back with an incredible version of Midnight Rambler. They had the guitars cranked up, and Ronnie & Keith tried to blow the roof off the arena. My only disappointment in the whole show was that during this encore, Chuck's piano was drowning out the guitars at times. No knock on Chuck, his playing fits well in certain songs, but for me he has no business touching a key during Midnight Rambler.
The grand finale was Jumping Jack Flash. The crowd and the band seemed to feed off of each other, getting higher and higher, until what we all dreaded was upon us. The show was over. They took their collective bows, and the crowd roared their approval.
The boys all appear to be in fantastic shape, and obviously are doing what they love. Let's hope that they keep thrilling us for many, many more years to come.
The size of the crowd was a bit surprising. A large section of the upper balcony, across the arena from the stage, was blocked by black curtains. There were a few bald spots in the side sections. I couldn't tell how many behind-stage seats were sold from my location, but the video screens might have made some of those seats unusable. A car-sized yellow Stones blimp circled the rafters before the show. Nice touch.
I enjoyed the music in Cleveland more, probably because the setlist was attuned to my liking, but the Detroit spectacle (fire, fireworks, mist, confetti, video displays) was far greater. A few curveballs appeared after Don't Stop -- Live With Me and a fine five-shot from Exile -- but most of the crowd appeared to approve of the selections. The band seemed to enjoy the change-up, as well. Charlie gave his floor tom a sturdy workout on Loving Cup and smacked cymbals with special force on Rocks Off. He tossed sticks to the audience -- the Stones' liability lawyers must wince every time. Keith and Ron grinned at each other and spoke a couple of times after guitar sections, suggesting that they were not performing by rote. Mick went out of his way to speak with Charlie while leaving the stage for Keith's songs, and winked and nodded with great satisfaction at Chuck after closing his nice harmonica work on Can't You Hear Me Knocking? I never noticed before that Bernard provides the "congas" on a keyboard . . . does he do the same on Sympathy For the Devil? I thought Ron's guitar work on Can't You Hear Me Knocking was much better in Cleveland than in Detroit. Bobby Keys also gets a great feature spot in that one.
I wonder how Mick talked Keith out of playing Undercover?
Mick's teleprompter content was relatively sparse. Song titles, a few lyric prompts. In Las Vegas, the teleprompter ran continuously, indicating when Mick would venture left, when he would "voodoo" dance, when Ron would wander over to lean on Bobby Keys, even -- no kidding -- specifying "sexy bum wiggle" about 10 seconds before Mick turned around and waved his butt at the crowd. In Cleveland, however, there was no such script, at least not on the teleprompter. In Vegas, watching the monitor was fascinating. In Cleveland, it was hardly worthwhile. (This one, some type of LED display, was harder to read that the MGM version, which was a garish TV-computer monitor.)
Ron might have won a bet just before taking the stage. He had what appeared to be a $20 bill sticking from his jeans' rear pocket from the time he took the stage until he reappeared after leaving the "B" stage. Ron is smoking non-stop. Mick introduced him as "on guitar and cigarettes, Ronnie Wood."
Mick described Cleveland as 'the only place in which you can see the Rolling Stones on stage and in a museum."
A number of people regarded "Slipping Away" as an invitation for a beer break. I thought it was a high point. If Some Girls was to be limited to a single song, Before They Make Me Run is as good a choice as any.
Stray Cat Dave was in the second row, and I was happy for him when I saw (written on Charlie's plexiglass cell) that Stray Cat Blues would open the "B" stage segment. Watching Charlie from behind enabled me to marvel anew at how economical his motions -- especially leg motions -- are behind the kit. He resembles Keith in that respect, caressing his instrument yet producing that big sound. Even during Brown Sugar, with the floor tom used instead of cymbals for the driving background, Charlie seems calm and measured aside from the occasional flourish.
Mick wore a frayed white dress shirt with a Liberty Bell that seemed to be stamped on the back. He brought it out at least twice. Did someone throw it to him in Philadelphia, or is he making a statement about freedom of some sort, or did someone find it for him at a second-hand rack somewhere?
Blondie plays an acoustic guitar on roughly a half-dozen songs. I couldn't hear his guitar (or Mick's) much in the mix. On Don't Stop, Mick displayed that frenetic, circular "up-picking" style that seems out of place on a stage with Keith's fluid slashes and Ron's simple string manipulations.
I was a bit disappointed to miss Keith's solo on Sympathy For The Devil (after seeing the Cobra scorch the roof in Las Vegas, I also wanted to see whether the fire-breathing stage, which was prominently used indoors in Detroit during Sympathy , would be used in Cleveland's arena), but Midnight Rambler was a standout replacement.
Lots of merchandise available thoughout the arena, from some nice $5 posters and $10 blinking tongues to $40 shirts and hats, from $50 lithographs to $450 leather jackets. Scalpers seemed to be getting face value or close to it to reasonably priced tickets; I didn't see $300 tickets offered. Stray Cat Dave's party at Fat Fish Blue was a nice way to start the evening. Missed StonesDoug, though.
With this long weekend out of the way, I have a few more shows -- Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia if it happens -- to vindicate my hope that I'll be in the audience when Mick Taylor joins the band for one brief reunion. Time Waits For No One, Can't You Hear Me Knocking, Tumbling Dice, Brown Sugar . . . surely there is a place for one more page in the glorious Stones saga with Mick Taylor's name on it. But then again, I'm also crossing my fingers for Bill Wyman to wander onstage some evening as the band runs through the studio introduction to Jumping Jack Flash. Until the final show ends, I'll keep dreaming.
I arrived in Cleveland around 5pm, stopped at the box office for a bit and then headed down to the pre show gathering spot. Good crowd of fans from all over, I traded some boots with a few guys!! Thanks!! I figured around 7 that I should start walking towards the arena becuase I didn't have a ticket yet. On the way I bought a $150 ticket by the b stage for $65!! What a deal I thought, but I figured I would stop at the box office one last time. That was the best decision I have made in a long time. I walked up and said hi to the guy who was there earlier. He said "hang on a sec" and then he waved me back over. He then pointed to the front row and said "How would you like to be right there?" I went nuts!! My first time ever in front row for the Stones!!! I looked at my ticket, "Floor Sec 1, Row A" and the best part was the price, "$90!!!". I almost forgot about my original ticket and I quickly unloaded it for $35.
By the time I got inside, Elvis Costello was already offstage and the crew was hard at work preparing the stage for the Stones. You can see everything and eveyone from front row! I saw Michael Cohl going over some numbers on a clipboard, Jim Callahan was checking the venue out, etc. I was so excited!!! I just hung out right on the rail!!
At a little before 9pm, the Stones were on!! Here they are just mere feet away!! This was absolutely wild!! Mick is dancing and wagging his finger at me, Ronnie is throwing me picks, and even Charlie gave me a nod!! The good thing is that the Stones were totally on!! Every song had tons of punch and the band was in serious high gear! The Exile section was just unbeleivable!! Sweet Virginia and Loving Cup were such a treat! I'm basically on cloud nine for the whole show. Mick was going totally nuts on Rocks Off, he was just on fire the whole night. Even the hot rocks were a joy tonight. I was singing along to every single line of them!! The b stage set was awesome with Stray Cat Blues and a decadent Brown Sugar. However, the roof blew off with one of the best Midnight Ramblers I have ever heard! Jumping Jack Flash with Keith giving a little false start for some added effect was just insane! Frankly, for a kid who thought after Aragon he had seen it all....the Stones proved me sadly mistaken!!
I truly feel that this show is going to be one of the most under-appreciated shows of the tour. This show was a true classic arena show and will go down as one of my all time favorites!!
Thanks to Andy Greene for news links!
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
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