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Tell Me

The Rolling Stones
Reliant Stadium
Houston, TX, USA
Saturday Jan. 25, 2003

The set list:

  1. Brown Sugar
  2. Start Me Up
  3. I You Can't Rock Me
  4. Don't Stop
  5. All Down The Line
  6. Angie
  7. You Can't Always Get What You Want
  8. Monkey Man
  9. Can't You Hear Me Knocking
  10. Tumblin' Dice
  11. Slipping Away (Keith)
  12. Before They Make Me Run (Keith)
  13. Sympathy for the Devil
  14. It's Only Rock'n'Roll (b-stage)
  15. Little Red Rooster (b-stage)
  16. Midnight Rambler (b-stage)
  17. Gimme Shelter
  18. Honky Tonk Women (with Johnnie Johnson)
  19. Street Fighting Man
  20. Jumpin' Jack Flash
  21. Satisfaction (encore)

Show time 9:05 p.m. - 11:20 p.m.

Review by Dean Goodman

After ogling Texas' old electric chair in the afternoon, I could have done with the resurrection of "Flip the Switch" in the evening. But it was not to be. Pretty much the same old songs, albeit with little twists and turns that make them interesting night after night. Johnnie Johnson, the boogie-woogie pianist who was Chuck Berry's right-hand man and (uncredited) co-songwriter, brought his magic touch to "Honky Tonk Women." What a pleasant change to have a classy guest on that song for a change.

Maybe Johnnie inspired the band, because the Stones then ended the evening on a triumphant note. "Street Fighting Man" was stupendous, and Mick seemed to feel that it was something special. As the song was climaxing, he waved at Mick, Ronnie and Darryl to form a line with him, and the four of them advanced to the front of the stage -- like they did with "I Go Wild" on the Voodoo Lounge tour. Then Keith launched almost immediately into "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Usually, the band loses so much momentum when it takes a tea break between songs. But tonight's segue shows what a powerful force they can be when they, er, get rolling. The encore of "Satisfaction" was delivered with the usual extra modicum of panache. Keith played an extended intro as Mick was late coming in. And everyone left happy.

I have to say the night started rather slowly. Three hours after organizers opened the gates to let the throngs in from the biting chill, the band came on with "Brown Sugar." From my 12th row seat on the floor (scalped for $150), I could hear no guitars. It took a few songs before the mix seemed to come right. I'm sure others will have different opinions though.

Ronnie remains an interesting character. He spent a good chunk of "If You Can't Rock Me" behind the monitors in some heated conversation with his guitar tech. During Bobby's solo on "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," he went over to Mick's onstage closet and picked out Mick's Stetson hat, and waved it around the stage. Then he realized he'd ruined Mick's surprise, looked over apologetically at Mick, and sheepishly replaced it like a naughty schoolboy. Later, during the intros, Mick officially unveiled his Stetson with the remark "Totally Shameless." After introducing Ronnie, he took off his Stetson and crowned Ronnie with it. Bygones. On the small stage, he excitedly tried to get Mick to look at a girl's banner declaring that she had named her son after Mick, but Mick just blew him off.

The crowd seemed a bit lame. During "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Mick instructed everyone to sing the title line. They did it twice and it sounded pathetic, so he gave up. In Europe, they would have been singing it all night. Also, the applause during the intros was more polite than enthusiastic. Because of everyone's stoicism, I was able to get right up to the b-stage, while everyone else stayed in their alloted seats. I was too busy taking photos to pay much attention to the goings-on. But, as usual, Mick lost the beat on "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" and had to rush over to Chuck mid-song to get counted back in. Only 3 or 4 pieces of underwear were thrown onto the small stage - another small clue as to the crowd's conservative nature.

Like my last show in Pittsburgh, nothing overly memorable, perhaps a solid "B-minus" effort overall. But an "F" to the Houston PD who had half a dozen plainclothes cops busting civilians trying to sell tickets. Fortunately they did not target buyers, though one cop saw me looking at a bust and threatened to throw me in jail. Maybe this is why I enjoyed "Street Fighting Man" more than usual.

Review by Tim Barnes Jr.

Just when you think its getting predictable, the Stones remake themselves. Tonights show at Reliant Stadium was very different from the previous. Maybe because of a stadium venu? Nevertheless, the boys were tight. One number that had been avoided, YCAGWUW, was played and played well. Another, Little Red Rooster, was brought back into the set and played on the B stage. All Down the Line replaced You Got Me Rocking and drew rave reviews from the crowd. Keef's songs were Slipping Away and Before They Make Me Run. Lisa was looking fantastic in a red dress and boots that went to her waist....if you know what i mean. Her vocals on Gimme Shelter brought the house down. The Band seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, looking like they were truly enjoying the time. The third show seen on this tour (1-San Antonio and 2-Vegas) and the first stadium show. Was pleasantly surprised as i'm not that big on the larger venues. Well done lads, keep on keeping on!

Review by Robert Bagel

Tonight it was great to see the Stones back in a large stadium for a show, a venue with a size that demanded their full stage presence. Driving into the Houston area today, it was amazing to see Reliant Stadium: it is built next to the Astrodome, and unbelievably it dwarfs the Astrodome! It is like a mountain range rising from the Texas plain, visible from every strip mall and discount store parking lot for miles around. Inside, there was the large stage, with the protruding metal structures reminiscent of the Steel Wheels stage, and the long walkways extending far to each side. This was Texas, so a BIG show made sense. One thing that was not big was security, as I was able to walk in without a ticket to use the restroom, and then reenter again. There was no inspection or security check, just a "X" with a red marker on your hand and ticket stub. I hope the authorities pick up on the overly relaxed and downright dangerous treatment of a high profile event like this. For a state that says "Remember the Alamo", you think they could remember September 2001 and take better care of things.

Yes, I know it may sound completely spoiled to say the arena shows were getting a bit routine, but Keith kicking off the show with the opening chords of Brown Sugar signaled that it would be an extraordinary night. Rather than Brown Sugar capping off the small stage songs, it was fresh and energetic in getting things started with Keith ripping away at his guitar. Other pleasant surprises were All Down The Line and You Can't Always Get What You Want, with Mick and Keith working the big stage to its maximum potential. The Houston crowd was enthusiastic in being at the concert, but not completely into the music at first. Besides empty seats in the 2nd and 3rd decks toward each side, most of the crowd seemed more concerned with running out for another beer or trying to scream a conversation over the songs. When Keith did a passionate Slippin' Away, most of the crowd on the floor slipped away for another drink or just plain sat down. While the band was doing extremely well from the start, it seemed the crowd began to notice after Mick came back for Sympathy For the Devil, which was complete with the stadium-stage flames billowing forth each time the "Pleased to meet you!" part came up. When the Stones moved to the small stage we first got It's Only Rock'n'Roll, and then things really intensified with a great Little Red Rooster and a Midnight Rambler that had the full spectrum from slow blues to rampaging rock and roll. Here was another benefit from the stadium show: rather than exiting from the small stage like the arena shows so far in 2003, the band was able to build on the energy they created on the small stage. They returned to the main stage with a Gimme Shelter that had Lisa Fischer and Mick mixing it up with Keith's guitar, so that pyrotechnics were not needed to seem like this song was on fire.

The absolute highlight of the night was on Honky Tonk Women, where Chuck Leavell yielded to a large man with a hat on. There was Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry's piano player, and a musician we've grown to love from playing and recording with Keith, or just appearing at Buddy Guy's club in Chicago. When it came to the piano part, Johnnie Johnson made it sound like a Johnnie Johnson song and not Honky Tonk Women, and that was perfectly fine. Keith and Ronnie huddled around Mr. Johnson, playing guitar and paying homage at the same time. As far as guests on this song go for the LICKS tour, Sheryl Crow certainly has unsurpassed visual appeal, but Johnnie Johnson simply has 100 times more cool!

Street Fighting Man came late in the set, and was especially good. Rather than working opposite walkways, when Keith went far stage left, Mick ran out after him. There to the far right of the crowd they both stood, with Keith firing off the surface-to-air-missile-like chords, and Mick a foot away scowling, snarling, and egging Keith on.

Jumping Jack Flash was the last song of the main set, followed by an encore of Satisfaction. For the encore, Keith came out in a washed out red T-shirt that said HAND TIGHTEN ONLY on the front, and had a guitar not seen before. The guitar body had a silver lower half, and the upper half and neck were a bright magenta. It was a shock to the eyes, and Keith took advantage of the additional attention with some extra nice playing. Mick's shirt was color coordinated to Keith's guitar (to think that is coincidence would be naive!), as during the song Keith gestured to both his guitar and Mick's shirt, to which Mick shook his head and smiled. This Satisfaction was longer than usual, with Mick going down the walkway almost all the way to the small stage, and then later stage right at the end of the song. As Mick stayed out on the wing working the crowd the rest of the band kept checking his whereabouts, but did not seem to mind continuing to crank out the music. Only when Mick returned did Keith and Charlie appear to consider completing the song and the show. Satisfaction finally ended, followed by everyone's bows, then Mick and Charlie, and then the stadium show fireworks. I know if the Stones were playing nothing but stadiums, I would be the first screaming for arena shows. But on a night like this where the band takes over every square inch of a large football stadium, the magic is far more intense and the show much better than any arena appearance-or club appearance--could provide.

Review by Robert S.

A memorable night in Houston as rumors of a guest appearance by Johnny Johnson came true. Although the set list was a typical stadium show for this tour with lots of greatest hits, we also got 'If You Can't Rock Me', Can't You Hear Me knockin', All Down the Line, Monkey Man & Little Red Rooster. From where we were sitting, about 20 rows back on Ronnie's side, the sound was perfect - the guitars were strong and loud in the mix and I could hear every thump of Charlie's base drum. Quite a contrast from San Antonio a couple months ago when we had seats in a similar location, but strained to hear the guitars over the mix. The band was in a good mood with lots of good cheer, and the playing was excellent. Our whole area was singing and dancing throughout the show. Mick & Keith interacted favorably throughout the show - on three separate occasions, when Keith would stroll out one of the side walkways on the giant arena stage, Mick came over and joined him and they rocked together for crowd. By the time Jumping Jack Flash was played, we had moved to the front left and had Mick and Keith standing 10 feet away from us rocking away, side by side, with huge smiles on their faces. That alone was worth the price of admission. I saw them talking and laughing several times during the show. After the final group bow, Mick was lingering on stage and took Charlie's hand and the two of them took a final bow together.

Other highlights:

Johnny Johnson - there were rumors that he would make and appearance and he did, sitting in on Honky Tonk Women. His presence was not mentioned until after the song, so I don't know how many people realized who he was at the time, although the camera was on him most of the song.

Can't You Hear Me Knockin' - this would be a highlight for me at any show, but they really nailed it tonight. Keith's intro was loud and strong, and his amp settings had just the right amount of dirt to give it that perfect sound. Ronnie really nailed the solo as his playing continues to hit new heights on this tour.

All Down the Line and Monkey Man - what a treat to get both of these in the set. Again, Keith's guitar settings were perfect. His intro to All Down the Line was rough and choppy, the way it should be, and I could hear his chugging rhythm through most of the song. Money Man was so true to the original it was scary. Great sound on the guitars, and the keyboard was at the right level in the mix. Both of these were jewels.

Angie - Keith sitting on the drum riser for most of the song while playing the acoustic. Very true to the studio version.

The B Stage - when IORR was not played early, I knew it would be the opener on the B stage and it sounded great. I was hoping for some blues or a rare one for the second song and got it with Red Rooster. Since it was a stadium show, I was prepared to settle for Like a Rolling Stone for the last song, but instead we get a smoking hot extended version of Midnight Rambler. We were so close I could hear Charlie smack his snare a moment before I heard it through the loudspeakers. An awesome performance, with Mick really working the crowd on all three songs.

You can't always get what you want - this song has really changed from the last tour when the guitars were hardly a factor. Tonight we got a long extended version with not one, but two solos from the new and improved Ronnie Wood. A great combination of the original studio version and the guitar dominated versions from '72-73.

Keith's set - great versions on both songs. He really seemed to be singing from the heart. He made a comment about the new stadium being a virgin and the Stones had to break it in.

It looks like my highlights have turned into the whole show, and that's about how it was. They did not run through any of the greatest hits. Sympathy, Tumbling Dice and Street Fighting Man were all extended versions with lots of jamming. Keith played a chrome guitar with a pink neck and pick guard on Satisfaction. Someone told me Billy Gibbons gave it to him. Ronnie had some equipment problems during 'If You Can't Rock Me', but who cares. It didn't seem to bother him or any of his band mates. I was just glad to hear this song.

It's hard to believe these guys get better and better, but it's true. For both performance and set list, this show was better than those I saw in '78, '81 or '98. This show will play over and over in my head for a long time.

Review by Eli D Cipriano

First major concert in the new Reliant Stadium (home of the pro football team Houston Texans) and it was inaugurated in style. Retractable roof was kept closed due to weather. It looked like we were close to capacity, but I am sure there were tickets to be had if you really wanted to get in at the last minute. I was on floor, Row 23 Keith's side fairly close to center, and sound was good by the time they got done with Don't Stop. People in the top two levels said high-end sound was not very good. Don't know if this happened at other stadiums, but about seven or eight songs into the show some of my friends on the fifth level were given wrist bands to go into the standing room only area at the back of the floor. I guess they didn't have enough people in the general admission section to make it look good for the boys when they hit the b-stage?

Rambler on the b-stage seemed to be the consensus show stealer-every bit as good as the HBO performance. Other highlights for me were getting both All Down The Line & Monkey Man in a "greatest hits" stadium show; Knockin' sounded very good to me, better than the San Antonio arena show back in November; Johnnie Johnson on piano for HTW; and the over all set list just seemed to flow very well. Was this the first time If You Can't Rock Me showed up at a stadium show? And a very nice surprise was not getting You Got Me Rocking, which is okay, but come on, at every freakin' show?

It appeared there were some technical problems at the start of IORR,--Mick was off key and couldn't hear well? But it worked itself out and everything came together for Rooster and Rambler. I'm not a fan of stadium gigs, but I really liked this show!

Reviws by Jeff Young

This is my 3rd show for the 40 Licks Tour. I attended MSG in September, Nashville in November and this show equals if not better than the New York Show in September. They opened with Brown Sugar, and incluced All Down the Line. Angie And You Can't Always Get What You Want were excellent slower numbers and both brought the house down. The concert paid for itself for me just hearing the latter. Jumping Jack Flash was played and Satisfaction was the encore number. We sat next to the Houston Chronicle Music Critic on the 1st elevated section near 20 yard line and the sound was excellent. The Reliant Stadium is less than a year old and this is the first major rock concert. The crowd was less responsive than those in New York. However, the Stones were in top form and Jagger was really pumped up for the big stage.

Review by Bobby J.

Since this was only my 15th show since Altamont I am still considered a rookie, but still have some observations to share. Walking around Reliant Park in the afternoon seeing just how big it was made me wonder we would be getting a stadium or an arena show? But my bigger question, "Will I get cyhmk this time?" After a slightly shaky start with Brown Sugar, the sound balanced out towards the Yeah Yeah Yeah Wooo's. I could tell immediately this was going to be Keith's show, he just had that attitude and there was no stopping the man! I was kind of surprised they chose ycagwyw following angie and it was a pleasant surprise to here it done so well! Don't stop was full of emotion and bite, I had a hard time hearing woody's lead the first two times, the last was superb. I had been hearing so much about cyhmk this time around from fans everywhere, I wasn't treated to that at the San Francisco shows. Then it was my turn. What can I say, the crowd was mesmerized by this number, Strangely though, Bobby did not get much reaction from the Texas crowd after his awesome solo, Mick did some great taunting with us during his harp solo. The guitars were smooth as silk. I have never heard a better rendition of Midnite Rambler! There was a feeling from the boys tonight, it was like they were relaxed, having fun, not competing with each other and generally seemed very happy to be the Rolling Stones. Street Fighting Man was awesome and it was good to see Mick and Keith hanging out together at the end of the stage It was almost 1978 again. This was the Best show I have ever seen! My bags are already packed for Denver.

Review by Ron Dionne

Once again we journeyed to Texas to see the boys. Reliant Stadium fits perfectly into this century. The cantilevers and free span trusses are pushing new limits. The concert started with a low rolling, earthy background rhythmn, building and building until Keith came sliding out of the darkness leading Brown Sugar....... everyone came out of their seats. There were some really good highlights throughout the show..... Mick and his harmonica..... Keith with Slippin Away. Sympathy for the Devil was an event in its own..... the lights and pyros.... music raining out on us.... and in that venue.... very surreal. When the boys returned from B stage.... Lisa was warming into Gimme Shelter.... and as usual... she aced it. And where did her hair go? For those of us not aware of impending surprises, out of nowhere this really hip keyboard jumps into Honky Tonk Women..... then we see the screen. From the reaction of Keith and Ronnie, it was like the second coming had arrived. Johnnie Johnson is a trip.... he needed to stay on stage longer, that was just a tease! Jumpin Jack Flash had Keith down next to the floor playing.... he was so intense. I hate to think this may be my last show for the Licks tour...... Hmmm? Wonder if the wife would like to visit Paris?

Review by Carl Neumann

The day of the show was finally here. I'd been following the Forty Licks tour since the Stones kicked it off. Checking out the set lists on IORR, reading the reviews, playing the songs at home, in the car and wishing and hoping the boys would play my favorite songs when they got to Houston.

I've seen the Stones on every American tour since 1981 and in the past I've had the chance to see them at stadium shows and at arena shows in various cities in the US. I much prefer the intimacy of the arena show and relish the fact that the less popular songs are better accepted by arena audiences. Therefore, I was hoping Houston would get an arena show but this time it was not meant to be. To me this meant I would probably not get to enjoy Can't You Hear Me Knocking and get the radio-play tunes that don't sound fresh any longer. As the time of the Houston show approached I began to worry that the show would be similar to the HBO performance, which I believe was overwhelmingly Jagger and not enough Stones.

All my fears went away once I took my seat. Having seen the Stones in the front row in the past, this time I got a ticket in the lower lever (not floor) directly in front of the stage. No problem, I was there for the music and if I wanted to see the boys up close I would use my binoculars. As soon as I listened to the opening cords of Brown Sugar I began to worry that we were about to witness a horrible show. I have read so many complaints about the sound on this tour and especially about the sound in San Antonio, that I almost believed we were doomed. There were no guitars on Brown Sugar! Fortunately, half-way through the song all the instruments were coming out of the speakers and by the time Start Me Up was in full stomp the sound was great!

Perhaps realizing this was the last Stadium show of the North American leg of the Tour, the Stones played their heart out. The set list was perfect. It was the soundtrack of my life. Better yet, the Stones didn't go beyond 1981 except to play Don't Stop and for Keith's Slipping Away. The Stones knew that while Houston is country, it is also blues. (Louisiana is down the street, you know). So, rather than a country or a mixed set list they stuck with the blues and rock.

They kicked-off the total blues on the B-stage with Little Red Rooster followed by Midnight Rambler and a heavily blues based Gimme Shelter. The musical theme of the night was Let It Bleed with 5 songs, that is if you include Honky Tonk Women as a substitute for Country Honk. The sound theme of the night was Exile On Main Street as Jagger's voice seemed to be in the background all throughout the show, very much as it sounds on Exile. Awesome!

The Stones rock and roll has evolved over the years. In the late 80s they were 'speeding,' in the 90s they were 'cracking,' and now they are 'stomping.' When they were not playing the blues last night, they were 'stomping.'

It's Only Rock and Roll on the B-stage was special. It had a wonderful beginning. As you would expect from the Stones when they are live! At the start, they weren't getting it together but once they did they put 90s grunge rock in the Easy Listening category. Tumbling Dice, All DownThe Line, Start Me Up, and If You Can't Rock me were awesome jamming sessions defined by the contemporary Stones 'stomping' tempo.

This is one show I will not forget and will keep in a special place forever. A packed Reliant Stadium celebrated 40 years of rock and roll from the Greatest Rock and Roll band in the world. Each one of us privately celebrated the soundtrack of our lives, relived the past and hoped for a great future. Please Don't Stop!

Review by Harlow Monk

The Stones were great in Houston and the sound was much better at the new stadium than any Astrodome show ever was. They played fantastic and got the crowd really going ... as much as the crowd could get going. I don't know what is expected when you price the tickets way over most fans heads. The average seat cost about 110.00 with service charges. That is around �200 (English pounds). The average concert ticket has skyrocketed of course but still remains at around $40.00. When the prices are that high only those with means to the green get the goods. I am not saying they were not fans since they could afford the price, but the fact is I am the only one of my friends who went because of the cost. One out of five 20 year veteran Stones fans went. That's a shame. So if the crowd did not seem that enthusiastic too bad. But I felt that the crowd was just fine and if the police were busting people for selling tickets that is a mystery since scalping is legal in Texas ---FYI--- front row tickets were going for $1700.00 each.

Enough complaining! The show was great! It was a fantastic show by a fantastic band. The Stones seemed to be having a good time too. Anybody else agree with me when I say that it was the best version of "Angie" ever. Do you want to why the Stones still play rock and roll at 60 and sell out stadiums around the world? Because they can!

Review by David English

This was the fourth time I'd seen the Stones since 1976 in London, but this was a big disappointment. No, not the songs - the songs they played were just perfect ('midnight rambler' AND 'can't you hear me knocking' in the same show!) But, after reading most of the reviews, I thought I was at a different show. From my seat in section 608 (halfway, back - maybe 50 yard line, and halfway up the section) - not a really bad seat - the sound, all through the show was absolutely terrible. Booming bass and drums (which seemingly echoed around the cavernous concrete warehouse-like stadium), and no guitars audible at all. In some of the quieter songs (like Angie) you could just pick out some guitar, but it was really frustrating to see guitar solos being played on the video screen and being able to hear nothing....! And it didn't seem loud enough up there either... (Even the Astrodome had better sound at the upper levels).

I thought maybe there was something wrong with my ears, but having just seen the local TV news (channel 13) where they reported numerous complaints from people in the upper levels, thought I'd just add my comments to this page. Apparently some lucky ones who complained to the ushers got escorted to better seats in lower levels... I would have thought the Stones would do better than this. Well, I still love 'em, but really, what a let down.. (Oh yes, there was a 15-20 minute wait in line to buy T shirts on the 6th level, and they had no programs up there - I had to go to a lower level to get one).

In the press:

Thanks to Mike Newman and H�gne Midjord for press links.

This page will change over the next few days, as you and other fans send reviews, set lists and reports. Please send your e-mail to IORR. Thanks! For details and great photos from the Rolling Stones and their World Tour get the IORR magazines.

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