It's Only Rock'n Roll
The set list
Show time: 9:30 -- 11.40 p.m.
A local radio station was handing out buttons before the Canadian shows which show the Q107 logo, tongue, date of the show and venue. They make a nice momento, and since it was raining on the way into the show, we were able to get a handful of buttons! There's a different button for Air Canada Center and Skydome. Entry to the Skydome took some time as full body pat-downs were performed.
There were a number of people in our section 126 who had never seen the Stones before. After various songs people just said "wow". That's how this show is, "Wow!"
As for the Skydome, the sound was horrible. There's probably still remnants of sound hanging around the Skydome even today.
The Canadian audience were really into Don't Stop. It's always great to hear Shattered and Angie. The first real "wow" of the night came after You Can't Always Get What You Want.
Midnight Rambler took a life of its own. Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie each get to shine individually and all together during this song. It's just amazing. This song weaves all around and takes its listeners on a journey. How can the Stones follow up this journey? They put us on a Love Train. Most people just stood there and looked like "What's going on?" There were a few of us dancing and joining that Love Train.
Keith treated us to a great Slipping Away and You Don't Have to Mean It.
The second "wow" of the night was after Sympathy. These "wows" were from fans old and new. The visuals of fire add to this crowd favorite. The Stones really made up for the Air Canada version of this song.
The B-stage is a very exciting part of the show. It's great to be treated to three different songs each show.
The third crowd "wow" was after Gimme Shelter. While the three "wows" were after three hits, these songs tonight were deserving of a "wow". For people seeing the Stones for the first time, they now understand the draw of seeing the show as often as possible. For people who see many, many shows, the mix of songs make each night so fun and exciting. The end of the show is great for all. Then top it all off with confetti and fireworks and the Stones have treated everyone to a very memorable night. Looking forward to Columbus.
Don't Stop followed and was well received, as was Tumblin Dice. Next up was Shattered which I was thrilled to hear, although it dragged a bit. The band set up for an acoustic bit, Angie which is not one of my favourites, but went over really well with the crowd. You Can't Always get what you want sounded great, although the camera missed showing Lisa Fischer when she hit her high notes. Midnight Rambler was next, awesome as always, and Mick added lots of extra harp. This was followed by Love Train and I'm sure a lot of rookies thought this was a Stones song. It was great to get something really different. It reminded me of when they covered Going to a go-go and Twenty Flight Rock in 1981.
Then came Keith's set. He was in fine form. Slipping Away and then You Don't Have to Mean It which I haven't heard live before. That was a real treat. Sympathy for the devil always has some theatrics. It always seems to be a real highlight of the show. This time they outdid themselves again. They may have overdone the fire a bit, but it was a truly amazing spectacle.
Then came the trip to the B-stage. Keith hit a single cord, and I told the guy next to me "When the whip comes down". I was right. Another surprise, and another top notch version. Followed by Little Red Rooster, another first for me. You got me Rockin closed the B-stage. Fantastic, a rarity, a classic and a crowd pleaser.
Then with a little background intro, the band made their way back to the main stage. It eventually turned into Gimme Shelter. I have heard this many many times on different recordings I own. The best version I have heard is off the Saint of Me single. Lisa's vocals are amazing on this recording and I have never heard it matched, until this show. The crowd let out a huge cheer, which she truly deserved. This show now was ranking right up there with the best of the nine previous shows I have seen.
Now for the final four songs. Had they thrown in Can't You Hear Me Knockin, it would have put this show above all others. Unfortunately they didn't. Honky Tonk was a crowd pleaser, complete with raunchy cartoon, but the shit hit the fan with Street fighting Man. Keith got lost, just like he did in Giants Stadium in 94. Same spot in the song too. In 94 it was a laugh but not this time. Keith never recovered and you could tell he was really pissed. After the song he stormed off stage, came back out and tore his shirt off. He replaced it with a new one and they finished with JJF. You could tell this affected the band. It is like the atmosphere surrounding a family when the old man blows his fuse.
They finished with the encore Satisfaction, huge fireworks and a job well done.
To finish let me say this. I have been a huge Stones fan for many years. For the last 20 years I have put on an annual Rolling Stones cruise, which I put together a set list of their works, and 300 of us go for a boat ride and listen to Stones all night. I am very experienced at putting together set lists, and have rooted through countless versions of various takes of their songs. I have seen and heard just about as much Rolling Stones as anybody can take. To thrill me with a show is not as easy as it used to be. This show was a thrill, and there is no doubt they are "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World."
Great show, needless to say. Got the Rambler! Opened around 8:10 with Gwen "the navel" Stefani. About an 8 song set - felt sorry for her cuz the Canadian audience was typically unresponsive, except for the half dozen female Gwen-heads dancing & screaming right in front of her. She tried unsuccessfully to elicit reaction from the audience, and I was quickly reminded of the sit-down reserve of my native Canucks. I've spent the last 20 years in NYC and was a little concerned about their sit-down-ness. A few songs into it we fairly easily snuck up to "the engine" - the cockpit right in front of the stage where you can feel the performers breathing on you. Scored 8th row center $300 seats right in front - had a good feeling about them - and magically no one came to claim them all night! Point is - if you wanna scam yer way to the front, arrive pre-opener to suss out, then move and find seats while they're on.
Stones came on nicely late about 9:30, which I took as a good prep-special-show sign, blasting out with Brown Sugar, Keith coming out of nowhere and running to the front center of the stage, taking and holding it like it was His and look-the-fuck-out! What now passes as a fairly standard stadium opener -- Sugar - IORR - Start Me Up - Don't Stop - the blitzkrieg raged for first 3, then a much needed dance respite. The first 2 songs are simply the band playing on stage, then during Start Me Up the giant screens open up one section at a time with one band member highlighted on each section. Nice delayed gratification.
The audience, at least in the engine, was on its feet and howlin for the whole show, me doing the full American-bred, Dead-raised, rhythm-fired seat-front boogie in such a frenzied ecstasy my restrained $600-a-couple Canadian neighbors were glancing aghast. I believer in the healing powers of dance - and the Stones just incite Life so much I think it's our duty to dance in the reverie.
Up front observations: Ronnie wasn't smokin cigarettes that much in the first half. He's almost like the Harpo Marx of the group, silently making faces and doing pantomime to the incessantly babbling Groucho & his foil Chico Richards. Charlie seemed the same as ever, combed hair, happy, alive & kickin. Keith open shirted, looking fit and On. Mick - whadda mouth! You could stick a cantaloupe in there and still have room for dessert! And just a hard working entertainer - more than Dylan, Garcia & McCartney combined. Skinny high-energy jumpin jack. One thing I noticed was at some points as he was walking back and forth across the huge stage singing, he would close his eyes and seem to go to another place like he was really channeling it for a moment and not "entertaining". It was neat to see. Also, we were a little Ronnie-side and I noticed Keith comes over there a lot more than Ronnie goes to his side. In fact much more of the show takes place Ronnie-side with him and the singers and Keith comin over to play and hang out.
During one of the early songs, while Mick was off dancing down a wing, Keith and Ronnie were leaning back-to-back, pushing into each other, each doing this wiggle dance against the other and laughing when the other guy did some weird move, then one would pretend to leave but not and they seemed to be playing this game and then Ronnie finally stepped away and Keith sorta fell backwards and they both had a big laugh.
Anyway, then they did Tumblin' Dice which seemed sorta normal, then Shattered which is very evolved from and more full than the studio, and was one of those times Mick seemed to lose it and go to that other place. Very jammy and weird. I read somewhere that he wrote Shattered in Toronto and noticed it was the 6th song and he still hadn't spoken to the audience yet. I thought for sure he'd mention it. Then they broke out the acoustic guitars and I'm like - oou what's this? And then pththththring, and he strums that beautiful opening chord to Angie. Heart-wrenching show-stopping gem. Subtle, sweet, had the place hushed and hanging on his every plaintive Angie. For me this was the first early peak when things started to get interesting and the band started to get into a real groove.
Then, ah-ha, lovely, You Can't Always Get What You Want, which started off kind of standard (like maybe it should) but really built and went someplace in the long chanting insane jam climax. Good groove copped by all. This was Bill Graham's favorite Stones song, and on the '81 tour he had a tall stepladder set up beside the stage that reached exactly to stage-level and every night for this song he'd climb up there with just his head peaking above the stage like he was buried up to his neck in sand, and he'd rest his arms on the top of the ladder and just take in the whole song, then slowly climb down blissed-out like he'd just been communing with God.
Then this distant thunder, graveling avalanche, and a big phat Rambler came rumbling out of the back of the stage. Seems like a bunch of the young Stones fans don't even know this song cuz I'm jumping up and down both hands in the air and everybody else's just sorta standing there. The thing is it builds and builds in tempo to the double-time, and I'm trying to dance to the tempo and am just about having a heart attack, Charlie just friggin slammin it, but like his hair Still isn't getting mussed! So they take the song up and it gets really crazy, and then what I love is when they bring it right down - doing this thing I've only seen them and the Dead do which is to take the audience to this euphoric, physically gyrating peak and have everyone in the palm of their trembling hand, and then within that same song bring it right down to a moment where no one is playing and it's just the reverberations of the notes carrying for a second - an all-band rest for 2 bars - the pause - the room's just pulsating - and some people think the song's over and start clapping - until Mick chants it back up from it's hiding place and everything gets dangerous and crazy all over again. This was another one of those Jagger-eyes-closed-goin'-away-channeling songs.
It just went on forever and I was so happy and just sat out the Love Train follower, which I sorta found kinda silly - Mick in this fedora & pimp coat - Bernard keeping it real on co-lead vocals. Then the Keith part of the show - where he seems so at ease. He rambled into the mike for a bit about loving this town and being happy to be here and grateful to the city of Toronto and seems to get kinda lost in his reverie rap, then suddenly remembers where he is and turns around and asks "Okay, wot are we doin?" and somebody's standing there with this big black guitar and he goes "Oh yeah, Slippin Away," which I think is his bookend to Anybody Seen My Baby? about losing/not-losing the muse. So real, hard, painful. You could feel it. He sang the first half with the guitar at his side, as somebody else said in a kind of Frank Sinatra moment, and slippin to his knees by the end. Mournful, touching and soulful like Angie -- but about losing so much more than a mate.
I was not Happy Keith did not sing Happy next, but he did do this happy upBeat reggae You Don't Have To Mean It - in a country whose Senate this summer recommended the legalization of marijuana. It felt very un-Stones, like a Keith solo show.
Then it was Sympathy - and what's cool about this tour is that you don't know if you're gonna get songs like this - so every time, every song is a f*ckin present in the present. Stones Prof. Walter and I'd just been talking about what a beautiful piece of poetry this is - the way it encapsulates the Stones in one song the way Uncle John's Band does the Grateful Dead. We were so close we could feel the heat off the fire explosions. And what's great about the bigger-than-a-drive-in screen is that it doesn't just show the band but incorporates all these effects, like putting an evil red tinge on everything and bathing the house in the devil's blood.
It felt like that coulda been the whole concert but it's only time for the B-stage dash - Keith going last and stopping and shaking tons of hands as he passed the front rows and I think he sorta didn't realize how long the runway was and then looked up after a while and realized he'd only gone about a 16th of the way and everybody else was waiting at the other end then he sorta tried to run the rest of the way but kept stopping and it was about an hour before he got down there. Pretty funny. Mick's killing time down in B'sville saying, "I didn't realize this was so big. The stadium I mean." Anyway, they do Whip, which I love but caught at Giants, so took a rest, and then Little Red Rooster - a classic also interpreted by the Dead, but I gotta say Mick and his blues harp got it all over the Pigpen-less Dead. Then You Got Me Rockin' which to me is kinda generic. Also it was about seven miles away on the B stage.
Before the band gets back, Lisa and whoever's on stage is starting very quietly "oouu oouu-ing" Gimme Shelter, real subtle, real slow. People are still cheering the end of the B-stage triptych and watching the weaving 100-yard dance back to the Main, but meanwhile below the radar this ominous haunting chant groove is rising up & out and just starts pulsating more & more as each member gradually rejoins the fray. Lisa's out front carrying the load, and then Mick joins her and it reminded me of his duets with Tina Turner in '81. He absolutely loved her & wanted her on as many shows as we could get her that year. She's almost a female Mick, or he a male Tina. And man, does Lisa have balls too!
Shelter ends with this guitar-based climax rather than a krazy kiss away vocal explosion. And I'm just sitting there waitin to Hear the Knockin'. Then this weird thing happens. I don't know if anybody else noticed it or it was part of the act or what, but Keith comes over and squats down on the edge of the stage right in front of us, seems pissed off at Mick, dismissively shaking his head and pointing back over his shoulder with his thumb like, "Who is this jerk?" The band starts Honky Tonk, but he doesn't play for a while. Seemed like something pissed him off and goes over shaking his head and talking to Ronnie and then Charlie and he wouldn't look at or go near Mick again all night. It was really evident in the next song Street Fightin Man, where at the end Mick is out front and wanting the song to really climax and Keith & Ronnie are just holding back barely playing, and Mick's waving his arms and looking over his shoulder like they're supposed to come up beside him and drive it home, but they're just leaving him out there to hang himself.
They end with JJF, and I'm still hoping for a 2-song encore -- there's only Satisfaction but I like it. For the final hug n bow, Keith stays far away from Mick, never makes eye contact, then even on the final little official-4 bow, he's on the end huggin Charlie and not goin near Mick. So there's my little 2 cents on that one, don't know if I'm right, but that's the way it looked from 8th row center.
Keith doesn't smile, Mick and Keith seem less frindly tonight. For Don't stop, Ron does a solo close to the studio's version. After Tumblin' dice, first surprise with Shattered then a beautiful Angie, played completely acoustic.The crowd appreciates. The next two ones (YCAGWYW and Midnight Rambler) are the best of the show but you can't be fed up with the last one. I enjoy Love Train a lot, but this time they don't redo the song like in Detroit.
Intros, Slipping away then 2nd surprise with You don't have to mean it, Ronnie on keyboards, Blondie on acoustic. Sympathy is very impressive in a stadium with all the flames; I stand next to the small stage (50 meters) but i can feel the heat!! The big moment for me arrives now : i'm standing first row in front of Keith's mike. The sound for Whip comes down, Little red rooster and You got me rockin is awful, i could hardly recognise the songs... but i'll keep some images for ever. Keith winks to the girl next to me, Mick pours some water over me, Daryl nods to my hello.
Nothing to add for the last 5 songs except, Keith does a mistake on Street fighting man and looks very upset. After the show, fireworks inside a closed stadium!!! You can't smoke inside but they can use some fireworks, i'll never understand north america.
Thanks to Dean Goodman and Joe Sadauskas for set list information.
Thanks to Rob G. for news links information.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
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