It's Only Rock'n Roll
Tim Burgess (warmup) : 7:30pm - 8:15pm The Rolling Stones : 8:50pm - 10:45pm
The crowd was the best I have experienced for a long time, very friendly, everyone standing all the way through and spellbound by the Stones. I was worried early on in Street Fighting Man that they were a little too spellbound, more dumbstruck, but once that wore off there was a great atmosphere. Even when I am really into a show I still find it off putting having people looking disinterested around me. The sound was the best that I have heard on this tour from the very start. At Madison Square Garden particularly the sound was very low at the beginning but here I thought the acoustics were better than your average British arena and it was there right from the start. Great to hear If You Can't Rock Me again, although I prefer when Mick doesn't announce what the next number will be - much better when Keith does it with his fingers. A trundle through Don't Stop, again the sing-a-long not really taking off.
Mick then announced a slow number and I thought Angie or Wild Horses, but they brought Mick out another guitar. Dead Flowers? Nope, Sweet Virginia this time. It was a good run through but I think this song is best in the clubs with the whole room singing along. I'd rather hear 2000 Stones fans backing Mick up on this one than the backing singers.
I went along with two friends, Justine and Diane, who had never seen the Stones before - in fact the entire reason for going to this gig when I could have just gone to an extra night at Wembley was to see two more people experience a Stones show and see that no matter how good they thought it was going to be, in reality it is even better. That was their verdict - they were practically wetting themselves beforehand and they were both just blown away afterwards. All three of us got songs that we wanted as well - Paint it Black for Di, which I didn't think was as well paced as at Twickers, but I don't remember Ronnie playing the Sitar type instrument before? Maybe it was just the better sound than Twickenham just meant that I could hear it. Justine then got her song, another great Can't You Hear Me Knocking. I think this was even better than MSG - Mick on harp and Keith's guitar duelling, in fact I don't remember in any version that I have heard Keith taking such a prominent role in the song. You could believe that Ronnie reads every word written about him on the internet because his solo was fantastic, he just built it up and then stormed through to the end, the best I ever heard Ronnie play.
Then I got mine, Mannish Boy, and I got it on the b-stage. I was already thrilled to hear them do I Just Wanna Make Love To You at the rugby stadium. Now here I was, seven rows from the front of the b-stage, "......everything's gonna be all right this morning, oh yeah". It made my night. As soon as I bought these tickets I made it very clear to my friends that should one of Charlie's drumsticks come anywhere near me I would stop at nothing to try to get it. So as soon as they got to the end of Brown Sugar my eyes were focussed on Charlie, and they just got bigger and bigger as the stick came hurtling into my section. I jumped up high as I ever have, leant across two people...........and got it. It then hit the "webbing" between my thumb and forefinger and flew along the row to the guy 5 seats to my right. I'll never ever believe I wasn't able to wrap my palm around it and the only thing that consoled me was that the guy who got it actually turned round and gave a genuine hard luck look to me. Justine also said that they guys were clearly big Stones fans from their conversations who would have appreciated his good fortune, not somebody who would have gone home to their friends and said "oh yeah I got a drumstick, who is the drummer again, Charlie Wyman?". I always said though that if I could ever have just one piece of concert memorabilia it would be one of Charlie's sticks, and my dream just slipped through my fingers.
Unfortunately the one thing that could have made up for it didn't happen, it seems that Keith has given up on dealing with intruders himself. Had he swung his telecaster around his head when the two idiots got on the stage I don't think I would have gone to see the Stones again because I would have seen everything I ever wanted to see at a Stones show. Just next Saturday's Wembley Arena gig left now to make up the quintet of Licks shows, unless they swing through New York again and I manage to get out there. Which means they HAVE to play Neighbours and Dance Little Sister.
What about the music? Oh, yes, the music was great as well. Great that the set was so different from Wembley - loved the singalongs - YCAGWYW and the Whoo -whoos. Don't Stop was really sharp - liked it for the first time. Something seemed to go wrong occasionally - but that's great, this is live music and they play it so often, you can't blame them for for still "peeling the onion". Greatest R&R band in the world? Well, let me ask you - who could follow that? Even a week later, who could possibly follow them and make any sort of impression?
ps I'm going to Wembley (again) and Twickers on the 20th. See ya!
After a creditable support show from Tim Burgess, all attention was focused towards the impending arrival of The Glimmer Twins. As at Wembley, the distinctive opening chord of Street Fighting Man heralded the start of the show and the first four songs totally rocked the Arena as they had done in so many shows before this.
After a storming Donít Stop (food for thought to those who maintain the Stones have not written any decent rockíníroll songs in the last decade or so) we were then treated to four songs which were not performed at Wembley Arena. First up was Sweet Virginia, one of the highlights of the night for me as this has always been a favourite. Not the first time I have seen this performed live, but definitely the best.
Having checked the pattern of set lists over previous nights I was expecting YCAGWYW, and sure enough, the opening chords commenced one of the nights big sing-a-longs. This was followed by Paint It Black, which was a nice surprise as they had played it in the previous show in Glasgow. Again, this was the best I have ever heard it played live. A driving You Got Me Rocking then led to all time favourite, Tumbling Dice, which never fails to please.
After the introductions Keith stepped up for his slot. The only slight disappointment was that he did the same two songs as at Wembley Arena. However, Slipping Away was again beautifully crafted, although not quite as haunting as at Wembley, but Happy was probably slighter tighter than the previous week.
Mickís return to the stage signalled the start of some very familiar percussion as Sympathy kicked in. For me this was probably the highlight of the night. Keith was in overdrive on this one and the interplay with Ronnie was stunning. I can now understand why this song has attracted such favourable comments in previous reviews.
HTW, the elongated Canít You Hear Me Knocking and a truly sensational version of Satisfaction led the Stones to their B-stage slot. The opening doodlings were suggesting Midnight Rambler might kick off this segment, but I knew that they did not perform this on the small stage. It turned out to be Mannish Boy, which certainly fitted into the ďnice to hearĒ covers slot (as did the amazing cover of Love Train the week before). The sound from the B-stage appeared slightly better than at Wembley. There followed the total rock out of IORR and Brown Sugar before the big finale that is Jumping Jack Flash. Another two hours of the finest rockíníroll you could ever hope for was (sadly) at an end.
Upon reflection, one of the things that has struck me about this tour as a whole is how good the classics sounded. Not that they have been performed particularly badly in the past, albeit with some exceptions, but I got a sense that the Stones had adopted a more back to basics approach to the likes of HTW and JJF than in many previous tours, performing them in a way which was more akin to the way they were written and intended, much as U2 did on their last global jaunt. This first hit me when they did HTW at Wembley, probably the finest live version I have ever heard of this song, and was re-enforced when they did Satisfaction tonight. There have been times in the past when I was hoping they would not perform some of these songs, partly because I had heard them so many times before, but also because there were so many other great songs I wanted to hear. However, the guys certainly breathed a new lease of life into these classics such that I now couldnít wait for them to be performed.
All in all this tour will live in the memory forever. There is undoubtedly a great rockíníroll revival going on at the moment, principally driven by some great bands from the other side of the pond, but one look at The Greatest RockíníRoll Band In The World once again puts all that into perspective. The question remains of course, how much longer will they go on for. If it is the last time, them itís a great way to go outÖÖÖbut at this point, I just canít help hoping we will get another crack at it.
Thanks to Joelle Bonnet for news links!
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2003 -
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