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The Rolling Stones
Press Conference
Aktionsforum Praterinsel
Munich, Germany
Thursday June 5, 2003

Report by Bjørnulf Vik, IORR
Photos by Klaus Lauterbach, IORR

The Rolling Stones met the European press this afternoon at a press conference in Munich. During some amazing moments they once more met the European press with a lot of smiles and confidence, like you should have when you have been doing this for 40 years.

Mick, Keith and Ronnie
Charlie and Mick

The opening question asked how they could do this after all these years. "It is a secret", Keith replied, smiling, with a great gesture. And that set the standard and the relaxed atmosphere for the rest of the 15 minutes long press conference. Only at one point they had to hand over the word to the tour boss Michael Cohl - regarding the controversy warm up band in Hannover. This question was expected and well prepared for, see the report below.

Following the 15 minutes opening part for the entire press, The Rolling Stones had closed round-table discussions with selected press contacts in Europe. That part lasted 2 x 30 minutes, so that they were at the press conference site for an hour all in all. Excited fans waited outside the press conference site to see the "boys", as rain and thunder made an unfriendly scene for those having to wait outside. And around 6pm, you could see first Ronnie and Keith, then one minute later Charlie and Mick, leaving the building. Mick with an umbrella, not often you see that!

The press conference report

Michael Cohl, the head of the tour, opened the press conference with a short introduction. He said it was a bit unusual for the Stones to have a press conference the day after the first show, and this mean they have great confidence in what they do. So far they have played for 9 months since the opening in Boston September 3 last year, a total of 69 shows including last night show at Olympiahalle. They have played for 1.5 million people, with the best reviews seen ever, both from fans and media. And before the tour is over they will have played for a total of 3 million people. Then Michael Cohl introduced The Rolling Stones. Great applause from the 150 or so journalists.

First question: "You are still the greatest rock'n roll show in the world, and we are amazed by the level of your energy. How do you do it? Keith: "It is a secret." Mick: It was a very live crowd. It was the first show with general admission. An audience with lots of energy." And it was all men last night, they said, joking a bit.

How important is image? Mick: "Charlie is gonna answer the image question." Then Charlie takes a strange look at the microphone held up to him, as Mick replies himself: "That is what show business is all about. Image is everything."

Another question: "Will you play Sympathy For The Devil in Hamburg?" Mick: "We haven't done the set list for Hamburg yet. May be we play it at another show."

Question: "Why do you choose to focus on a specific album every show?" Keith: "We are playing loads of different songs. When you play 3 shows in a city, it is easier, and it keeps us going." At this point Keith also thanks the rest of the people on the tour, as there are many people working to make this what it is today. "I'll leave it with that", Keith says.

Holland journalist: "You play 5 concerts in Holland (he did not count correctly, they do actually play 6 shows in Holland....). How do you pick the songs for Holland. Is there a difference in the crowds?" Mick: "We look on the previous shows we did, we don't want to repeat ourselves. Some like ballads, other countries are more like in for the hard rock songs. I think Holland falls into the later cathegory."

Another question about how they pick the songs: Answered by Mick: "We sit at a table, have like 200 songs to choose from , throw them in the air, then we pick the 21 or so that comes down." Very typical reply. Why bother. And as all through the press conference, Keith is continuing to reply: "It's a secret", still with a smile in his face and a sparkle in his eyes...

Another question: "Why Munich?" The answer is they have a vague connection to the area, because they have done recordings here. Also it is a great area. Then need the feedback from a great crowd in order to get a confirmation about the show.

Question from Italy: "In Italy you have to finish at 11pm. Is it a problem to play in the sun, starting like 20 minutes befrore 9 o'clock?" Mick: "We need the Dracula effect. The show is best seen in the dark." Mick think it is a drag when it is not dark. But it is also great with the twilight.

Daily Mirror: Asking about a party... James's party. This is of course a very typical tabloid kind of question. There are 10-15 questions to be asked in total today, and all they care about is non-Stons related party stuff for their front page... Mick: "I read about it. I was not invited."

Final question from Munich press: "What is the latest development about the support band Boehse Onkelz in Hannover? Mick: "For this I will hand it over to Michael Cohl, and then I will tell you my opinion." Michael Cohl: "We spoke with our German tour organizer, and we talked toVirgin Germany. They both strongly recommended this band. When the story broke we did our homework. We talked to the promoter, to Virgin, and we talked to their Jewish promoter. It is an old an also a wrong story. We stand by the booking." Mick: "They say they have removed all links they might have with violent groups more than 10 years ago, and we take this as a sign of their good faith."

Then the press conference was over. 12 minutes with the Stones. 12 minutes where even the sharpest pens of the European press are getting soft, they are trying to do this professionally, but it is still just a big event, some sort of a mix of entertainment, facts, jokes and smiles. It's the Stones. And that is why they are so great. And Virgin Germany should be proud. With so many journalists and other people inolved, aned 800 press people on the waiting list for the press conference, it was running smoothly with no problems. The Stones got what they wanted. Virgin got what they wanted, and the press got what they needed - great stories. As Keith says: "On with the show!"

For more press conference photos and comments see the next IORR issue no. 48 due out in July - the best pictures and stories you can get from this tour, just like the previous issue IORR no 47 covered the tour earlier this year!

For news links and general press reports see the separate IORR Munich pages!

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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