It's Only Rock'n Roll
Show start: 9:30pm
Show finish: 11:43pm
Every time I say the same -- this was such a great show. Why? Simply because it's true.
Give me an hour or so, so that I can celebrate this great show a bit more here in Hartford, before I tell you why this show needs some extra celebration...
I will just give you some clues:
Well, this was supposed to be short... More soon...
Hartford, Oct. 6, 12:35am
Hartford is the only place when the Stones play in the very heart of the city. The Civic Center is in fact inside the shopping halls of the city center, and if you choose the right hotel to stay in, like Hilton, you can actually walk inside all the way to the show. Even from most other hotels in the city, it's like 5-6 blocks walking only.
A Stones show in Hartford is just like the Stones coming into some of the smaller cities in Europe. On show day, all restaurants and bars are packed with fans, no space left. And the arena itself is fully packed. Normally the ice hockey team "Wolfpacks" play games there, may be not to a sold out crowds of 15,000 people or so, like the Hartford Whalers in the past. Tonight it was so full, that people were stuck all over. Buying merchandise, drinks, queues to the restrooms, ladies in the gents queues of course etc.
There are like 335 reasons why the show was so good tonight. May be not exactly, but very close. First of all the Stones have the worlds most professional crew of 300 or so people, working with all parts of the tour. Then there are like 4 guys we know well on stage, Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie, plus another 9 guys on stage including Bobby Keys and his horn mates, Lisa, Bernard, Blondie, Chuck and Darryl. If I forgot someone please forgive me. Then there are 22 great songs selected for the show.
The "Let It Bleed" section of songs was introduced by Mick. They displayed the album cover on the screen before and after the set of the four songs. "Love In vain" was played with such great emotions, thanks to Ronnie for the great guitar works.
Gimme Shelter was another great version.
For his own set of songs Keith changed his green shirt into a red one. Fits so well with his image and his songs. "Slipping Away" was very good, and "Before They Make Me Run" got people on their feet if they ever thought about sitting down for a few seconds.
So far I have got my focus on Bobby Keys, Mick and Ronnie on "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". But tonight I realized that Keith is the one to start it off, and to hand this song on a silver plate to the rest of the band. Through his short but still stong riffs Keith makes "Knocking" ready to go for the rest of the band.
"Midnight Rambler" was such a great and long version. Mick did all sorts of dance steps. The whole band was so great on this song.
As I was going home following some fantastic shows here in the USA during the past week or so, I wanted to just enjoy each and every song tonight. My homesickness was gone when "Street Fighting Man" was on, but I did still try to concentrate on enjoying, grapping every detail, and not go wild. At times I realized I was closing my eyes to enjoy some songs. I rarely do that, when the band is on stage. That's why I realize they must have been so good tonight.
Now I have to go home, like Charlie says, I like to be at home but I like to be with the Stones. Hard to combine... As the band is having a break now, Mick is resting his voice, I hope all you great fans will tell us all what they do, how they play, and if they are really as good as I think they are!
Hartford, Oct. 6, 02:40am
I don't remember the name of the opening band, but they played some decent rock. They had whiskey and beer laid out and drank shots in the beer between songs. They also smoked on stage, reminding me of Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood.
The Stones started a little late, after 9:30, and from the first lick of Street Fighting Man to the last lick of Jumping Jack Flash they were absolutely wonderful, and the audience was mesmerized. The familiar first four went perfectly. Mick and Keith were both very animated and every move brought a roar from the audience. Before "Don't Stop" Keith went up an put his arm around Mick, no doubt telling him not to worry, because he wouldn't start the wrong song next like he did in Landover.
Next they did Rocks Off, and I was so surprised at the great audience response. My whole section was singing the words (even those who didn't know them).
I had a greater surprise with Love in Vain. Not only did the Stones do it perfectly (Ronnie was fantastic), but this song would normally be a "pause" for a non-Stones audience, and this was not the case. The audience hung on every note, and gave a loud applause at the end.
Let it Bleed and Monkey Man brought very loud screams from the audience, and by this time I knew these were "seventies folks" (unlike myself who is a "sixties guy"), and they knew a lot more about the Stones than I had given them credit for. Both songs were flawlessly performed, and Mick's energy was unbelievable.
Gimme Shelter was as usual, very well received.
Speaking of Mick, he was more vocal and interactive with the audience all night, in my opinion, than he has been in any other show of the several hundred I have heard. He had the entire audience right where he wanted us, and he was the ultimate showman.
Tumbing Dice, then Slipping Away and Before They Make Me Run from Keith, followed by Start Me Up. The audience rocked, and it seemed the show settled down to a smooth course.
Love Train was surprisingly well received, with much of the audience singing.
Honkey Tonk Women was OK, and then Can't You Hear Me Knocking, which is not one of my favorite songs, but which was incredible. Each of the Stones outdid themselves on this song. Ronnie has made Mick Taylor irrelevant, and any potential guest appearance on the tour by Mick Taylor would be akward, unless they did some obscure song in a club setting. This song built and built through each section, culminating with Ronnie's perfect guitar licks. Ronnie got a loud and lengthy ovation which was appreciated and acknowledged by him.
Then Satisfaction and off to the B stage. I had never heard Mannish Boy live, and I am more and more getting into the Stones Blues songs. What a gem this one is, and yet again, the audience loved it.
Next was You Got Me Rocking. I see posts on Stones Boards all the time saying "this song must go". I can tell you that it is not going anywhere, because it is obviously one of Keith's favorite songs to perform. This performance was all Keith, and all wonderful. It is a perfect Keith song, and he could not have made it rock more..
Brown Sugar was next, and then exit out the back of the arena.
One of my very favorites to hear live, Midnight Rambler, was the first encore song. Man was this awesome. By this time all the upper deck aisles were standing room only so there was more room to dance. A loud and perfect Jumping Jack Flash ended one of the best concerts ever performed, and that was it. During the last two songs I kept my binocs on the Stones, knowing full well that for me it may be the last time I ever see them live.
For all the times I have had the HONOR to be in the boys presence, let me just say last night was as good as I can remember them in the early days or as good if not better than MSG for No Security. The audience was primed for a great treat and boy did Mick and co. appreciate all the love and give it their ALL. Thanks for Can't ya Hear Me Knocking and No Expectations. I am still beaming and wish I could catch them again before Jan. '03. Thanks Boys and luv ya LIVE!
People ask me do you ever get tired w/ the stones I say no.. do you ever get tired of looking at a Van Gogh? drinking French Champaign or having a cohiba robusto no! The energy between the guys was more then electric. the way Richards and wood vibed of each other weaving licks back and fourth was perfect. jagger never better! Charlie the human metronome. The rest of the band was like a well oiled machine. if you were not a fan and went to that show you are one now. I could go on and on. remarkably my wife who went w/ me to the garden, told me she liked it but did not think it was all I always talk about, was blown away! a matter of fact when we got home she put the bridges dvd on!
One thing that may sound goofy but was the icing on the cake was that we got to slap hands w/ Charlie and Richard's when they went to the b-stage Thanks for the great show you guys keep it going! Hope to go for my 25th in San Antonio.
There were so many excellent songs, and everything was played so well that it's hard to pick favorite numbers, but several tunes that stood out were Love in Vain, Let It Bleed, Can't You Hear Me Knocking and Midnight Rambler.
Ron Wood was ON FIRE tonight, and I take back every negative thing I ever said about him. He played slide guitar on Love In Vain, and he performed fantastic solos on Let It Bleed and Can't You Hear.
On Love in Vain, Mick stood at the center of the stage (no dancing or prancing) and both Ron and Keith sat on stools. Keith played acoustic guitar, while Ron had his slide guitar. It was amazing. During Can't You Hear Me Knocking, the long instrumental portion went on forever. Keith started it with a solo, then the sax player blew, then Mick signaled that he was ready to play harmonica, and he played for several minutes before handing it over to Ron to bring it home. It was an extended jam session. Mick also played harmonica on Mannish Boy and of course Midnight Rambler. During the Let It Bleed set I kept hoping they would close with Rambler, but when they went into Gimme Shelter I figured I was out of luck, so when it popped up in the encore I was thrilled.
The Hartford crowd was wonderful. Completely enthusiastic. Lots of singing along, even in the not-so-big numbers like Monkey Man and Rocks Off.
The Strokes, the opening act, put on a nice show, not very enthusiuastic but technically very good. They sounded a bit like Tom Petty.
I was in Section 201, Row T. This was my 10th Stones concert. I hope to see many more.
For me "Street Fighting Man" and "Jumping Jack Flash" were THE two greatest rock'n'roll songs ever written, period! Listenning to this opening riff rock into a flawless live version, it was simple to understand why. Ronnie was back with a vengeance pulling a perfect weave with Keith as Charlie's drumkit exploded keeping perfect time!
"It's Only Rock 'n Roll" was up next and served as a narration for the magnificent night to follow! Jagger prowled the stage as Keith and Ronnie continued to slide up and down the frets making their complex notes and bends seem as simple as scratching their nose. Darryl's bass was a perfect backdrop and Chuck's keyboards right on the money! The singers backing Mick infused a soulful feel to this cookie which was a portent of good things to come!
At Madison Square Garden last week I was thrilled to hear "If You Can't Rock Me" and thought it was spectacular. At Hartford, they had this down as good as the original recording and then some. It had a more lively bounce and more energy than the studio recording but didn't sound rushed as it did on some of the '75/76 performances. Again Lisa, Bernard and Blondie's vocals gave it a more soulful flavor.
Not one to warm to quickly to new tracks, there are as they say, exceptions to every rule! When I heard "Don't Stop" for the first time, I knew it was a winner! At this point, let me say the boys have the live one down pat and the crowd welcomed it singing along to the chorus! It's all but become the battle cry of the tour as we hope they "don't stop"! For a new number, this one became a staple rather quickly! When the band moved next onto a brilliant rendition of "Rocks Off" I thought we'd be treated to another "Exile" set as they'd done in New York a week earlier but they had something even better in store...Mick finishing this one announced that they would do a set from the "Let It Bleed" album and introduced the next song..."Love In Vain" Performed more like the "Stripped" version than "Ya-Ya's" performance, Ronnie stunned the audience with the most gorgeous slide guitar work this side of the Delta. Jagger's vocals invoked the ghost of Robert Johnson as Keith layed out the voodoo rhythm. This was scortching blues at it's finest hour done by the best white boys who ever tried to master the black man's art! Moving from a blues vain to a country one, "Let It Bleed" arrived next and again the band blended beautifully without missing a note! A simply brilliant performance was pulled of by Keith and Ron's dueling guitar work with amazing vocals from Mick.
I sort of expected "Monkey Man" next but I have to say it took on an energetic and soulful flair I have yet to see before! The gusto and interplay with Mick and Lisa was exciting and sexy. "Gimme Shelter" is always Lisa's moment to shine. She glowed in Hartford this night and the interplay between her and Mick went from a flame in the former number to a broil! Ronnie and Keith kept the licks dancing and Charlie's drums just rolled like thunder.
"Tumbling Dice" closed the sandwich with another "Exile" track following the superb set from "Let It Bleed". While a much played Hot Rock, it seemed to fit so well here and was done so flawlessly, it only added to what was becoming one hellfire show! Mick followed this number with introductions to the band members. Charlie got the greatest response from the crowd and Mick, Ron & Keith began bowing to him. Ronnie got an incredible reception with the crowd going wild and Lisa and lastly Keith got the next loudest applause which took us right into a stunning set by Keith...
Opening up with the lovely ballad "Slipping Away", Blondie took up guitar with Ron as Keith concentrated on his smooth whiskey crooner vocals mainly posing with his axe more than playing it. The song was like velvet before a hurricane as the riffmeister wasted no time in rocking us up with "Before They Make Me Run" to close a perfect "Keef Set".
"Start Me Up" took the crowd further into a frenzy with most everyone singing along with the chorus and Mick spurring us all on. As he wound down to the ending the lights went down to prepare us for one of the highlights of the night.
"Love Train" was a song I enjoyed at the New York show so much so I'd suggested the band seriously record a version for a CD single at the least. Last night's performance left that one in the dust! While the performance in the Garden was much like the hit single, the Hartford number was a full length funky-soul jam! The audience went absolutely wild and Mick had us calling out with him till the whole place was just one huge party. It was like having a debut on "Soul Train" with your favorite band in the world as supporting musicians. For about eight minutes or so, each and every one of us felt like a star! Thank you, Mick!
By now, while the erotic cartoon has lost some of it's shock value, "Honky Tonk Woman" has lost none of it's surprise. I've seen this song done three times on this tour and each time they do it, it gets better. Lisa and Mick have a lot of fun with this one and Hartford was no exception. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" was the absolute pinnacle of the evening. Words could not describe how well this jam was laid out. Mick got every lyric just right and sung clearly. Bobby's sax would have brought tears to Miles Davis' eyes!
It was pure Jazz. Mick moved right in with a beautiful harp solo which in turn led to a brilliant guitar weave with Keith and Ron. This of course, wound right into a guitar solo from Ron where he reproduced note by note the original jam, doing a little improv of his own throughout. It was the longest version I've heard and yet I'm sure both the band and the crowd shared my sentiment in wishing it would not end! This one took me back to the early seventies when bands came out and mesmerized the audience with magnificent jams and solos leaving folks sitting there with there jaws on the floor. The only difference here was the flavor more modern, the music more complex and let me not leave out Charlie! His drums were keeping the perfect beat as always but he was oh so creative on those skins in swapping rolls to blend the different solos and keep the tune all together. This was a full band effort and no one missed a trick! It was truly something beautiful to witness. I revelled in every minute!
Half the fun of "Satisfaction" was watching a boy in the next row in his early twenties. As the openning chords were struck, his eyes lit up and an ecstatic smile crossed his face as he picked up his air guitar and began mouthing the words and shaking his head in rhythm. To see someone so young get such pleasure from a song that left the charts long before his parents concieved him was all the reason for me to understand why this old war horse is a Stones' show staple! While many of us fans have heard some of these numbers played to death, there are those experiencing the joy of just discovering them and what better way to maximize that than to see it done live by the brilliant artists who created them! He got what he came for here as the band pulled of a rousing rendition.
Sitting only a short distance from the B-Stage, I got a good feel for what it must be like to be in a small club while Mick breaks into "Mannish Boy". I felt as though I could reach out and touch the ghosts of Muddy and Howlin' Wolf as Jagger transformed himself into the spectre of both. My wife clutched my arm at this point and said, "My God, we're so close I can see the wrinkles on Keith's face!" I said "Yes, but listen to the music and imagine sitting in a small Blues club!"
We both sat in awe as Jagger completed this tune with even more sinister prowess than the El Macombo version. Dragging the audience in with every step he took, Mick was in control here.
They wasted no time jumping into "You Got Me Rockin'" and that's just what they did! As if we needed any more momentum, we were all just at the most tremendous peak as the boys popped the floor right out from under us and soared us to the roof! Mick waving his fist up at us and goading us all on in the chorus lines, "You Got Me Rockin'" and we didn't think we'd ever stop! Almost as if Mick knew how wound we were he decided to cool some of the crowd and took his water bottle shaking the remainder out at the crowd alongside and then tossing the bottle out to one of the fans!
Not wanting to break stride, Keith and Ron launched Mick into the opening strains of "Brown Sugar" which wrapped up the B-Stage performance but not the excitement of the night. The band stepped off the B-Stage and exited just left and below where we were seated with my wife again squeezing my arm and screaming in delight. By the way, did I mention her favorite bands are C,S,N&Y and the Beatles. You wouldn't tell that in Hartford! Well coincidence or the boys hearing all my whining from the previous shows about not doing it, I got the surprise of my life for the encore. I'd already written off "Midnight Rambler" since they hadn't done it on the "Let It Bleed" set and since they'd done a full set from that album, it was the last box I thought they'd draw an encore from but as Mick warmed his harp in preparation, it was now my turn to get excited and I damn near jumped out of my skin! From start to finish, this was like looking through the past, brilliantly! But better than that, we were hearing it come "ALIVE!" again! While there was no slashing belt and Jagger's knees might be a little too fragile to fall on nowadays, he pranced and danced as he wailed and sang on this one. It was easy to tell just watching him that he enjoys doing this as much as we do hearing it! '
What better way to end a perfect setlist than with THE perfect rock'n'roll song, enter "Jumping Jack Flash"! This song has become for me, the epitome of the Rolling Stones and they did it great justice in Hartford. While none of us wanted to say goodbye, I can't think of a better way to do it! It's already a few days later and I still feel like walking on air! So now, where are these morons who were writing trash before this tour about "aging dinosaurs"? Hopefully a few of these jerks were in the Hartford Civic Center for this show, most likely with their worthless lips wrapped firmly around their ankles!
Thanks to Axel Schumacher for links information.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
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