It's Only Rock'n Roll
The Rolling Stones show time: 9:35 p.m. Ė 11:30 p.m.
Stage was dark for 1 hour as Charlie's familiar Gretsch yellow maple 4 piece kit was immediately brought out and sat there on the riser. Through my bonoculars, I could read the set list written on the plexiglass on each side of Charlie's kit and I could see we were in for a couple of surprises tonight. The standard assortment of Ampeg SVT's, Mesa Boogies, Fender Twins, and a couple of Marshall 100's on 4X12's sat there as the million dollar guitar collection of Ronnie and Keith's was being paraded around the stage by the roadies before being neatly stacked on rows upon rows of guitar stands behind the amp wall. The mostly middle aged crowd of about 45,000 rose to their feet as the house lights went out promptly at 9:35 and the big screens lit up with the standard video open of "The Bigger Bang" Theory (the 4 Stones' heads free wheeling in space amongst the cosmos.) The explosion came and BOOM ! there they were again, the 4 Princes of Rock n' Roll Royalty along with Darrel on the '62 Sunburst Precision jamming to the opening chords of JJ Flash, with Keith prowling the stage in his black trenchcoat, swirling around like a whirling dervish . It reminded me of watching a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon.
What followed was a standard by-the-book one hour 55 set of straight ahead no nonsense, Stones staples sprinkled with a couple of surprises. "Faraway Eyes" from 1978's Some Girls was one of them, which Mick introduced to the Phoenix crowd as a "A western song I wrote about all you good people out here in The great American West" Ronnie was surprisingly good on the pedal steel on that one. The well oiled machine rolled along into the great "All Down The Line" from Exile seguing into a fantastastic (as usual) 12 minute version of the Midnight Rambler with Mick blowing a great harp as usual while singing in his standard Bull Nigger blues voice. The trifecta continued with a beautifully done version of "Tumbling Dice". 2 other highlights of the show were 2 of their best from '65, "Paint It Black" and "Under My Thumb."
Mick was in surprisingly good voice given his recent throat issues. Keith was a bit subdued at times, and upon closeup viewing through the binoculars, I could swear he was a dead ringer for the Geico Lizard for a few seconds there, with his slitted eyes, and multi wrinkled face. I was half expecting to see his head go green and his throat puff out like the Gecko. But then again, that familiar smell of burning hemp was in the air for about 20 minutes in my section, so it could have been an offshoot of the secondhand smoke and the 2 double Jim Beam-on -the -rocks I had put down through the course of the evening. The set closed with Satisfaction, then a brief 3 minutes later they were back out to close with a straight ahead version of Brown Sugar. As my wife and I beat a hasty retreat out of the arena in the middle of Brown Sugar, as we got to our car we heard and saw the familiar closing fireworks and within a minute or so the 6 police motorcycle escort motorcade with the sirens blasting shot right out of the stadium as the 9 limo motorcade blew right past us, no doubt on it's way to the airport and straight to the tarmac of their Lear Jet and onward and upward toward Lsa Vegas for their gig Saturday Night at The MGM Grand.
Ah-h-h-hhh the life of the true mega rock star. A life we can all only dream about as we head back to our deadbeat jobs in the morning.
If not, going out, they delivered a nice set similar in many ways to Seattle. I really enjoyed the Seattle stadium and concert a little better, only because the setting was more beautiful and open at their football stadium (this new stadium doesn't impress me...very generic, ordinary, and virtually a dome, but with a not so wide strip in the ceiling where the roof opens up) and we got the extra encore in Seattle: CAGWYW.
While disappointed by the late start, could it have been that Ronnie was flying back from the UK, following reports that he left the tour to be with his family following the loss of his brother? The Stones really are true professionals. A lot of road blocks for the band recently, yet they played great, and delivered a set to their strengths. That they can mix up so many rehearsed songs and caringly customize them to each particular audience and city, just catapults them to the top for me. While the feeling was a little more subdued here than in Seattle, they sure sounded great. Highlights for me:
IORR - fans in my section had trouble figuring this one out for the first two minutes, but this sounded so great live! I always love their live versions of this classic!
She Was Hot - Sounded great, and much better than the second ever debut in Seattle. I knew this song would get better live when they played it more, and it sure was a treat to hear live (the second time ever for me)!
Far Away Eyes - "The desert is sort of like being in the country" Mick said. Great version! I thought maybe, given recent headline news, Mick might throw a zinger towards Colorado Springs, but no matter that he didn't. Beautiful, maybe my favorite country song ever.
All Down the Line - great surprise, especially since they played this here in 2003 during the Licks tour! Thank you for this gem guys!
Midnight Rambler - awesome as always...12 rocking bluesy minutes!
Under My Thumb - just sounds so great live!!!!
Start Me Up - really gave the crowd their second wind! Loud and in your face!
The last four chestnuts: Sympathy, Paint It, Satisfaction and Brown Sugar. I was feeling nostalgic, and a great finish.
If this is it, the Last Time, thank you Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie!!! What a ride, what a great set of multiple life experiences!!!
Despite rumors to the contrary, Ronnie did appear and played very nicely IMHO; far better than 2003 when he spent most of the time posing. In fact, he carried the band as Keith seemed absent/lost much of the night. I donít know if this is routine in the current tour but Keith walked off stage for Streets of Love and didnít return until the next song! You Got the Silver was one of the better numbers primarily due to Ronnieís playing. Keithís rendition of Connection was feeble and represents another song to drop.
The band clearly needs to make some changes e.g. shelve many of the tunes and get something fresh out there; get rid of Chuck, Lisa, Blondie, Bernard as well as the horn players with the possible exception of Bobby, whoís only present for a cameo appearance. In short, they must move on or risk being forever mired in the stale muck of yesterday. Like most of us old folks theyíre comfortable with what they know and are threatened by a change in the routine. However, Iím confident they are capable of doing it but time may be running out. I hope they take a well deserved break from the road this winter and regroup for a summer European tour with some new approaches in place.
It is difficult for me to write this as Iíve been a fan for 40 years and seen them live on several occasions beginning in 1978. The last thing I wanted to do was to slag the boys but Iím calling it as I see it, or, should I say, as I saw it last night. Perhaps, had I had a double JB like Mr. Romano, my sight would have improved! In any event, they still are and always will be the GRRBW!
Finally, I just wanted to mention I saw something I never thought Iíd see again: an extended drum solo which took place in Alice Cooperís opening set. What a joke as was most of his act!
Alice Cooper who lives here put on a real good, entertaining, rocking set for the local fans. Then we had about a 40 minute break before the lights went down and the Stones came on blasting Jumpin' Jack Flash and then It's Only Rock 'n Roll. Mick thanked the crowd for coming out and asked how many people saw them just less than a year ago next door at the Glendale Arena. Then they launched into Let's Spend the Night Together.
The sound was great throughout the night with lots of guitar. She Was Hot was really rocking and weaving between Keith and Ronnie. Then I saw them bring out Ronnie's pedal steel guitar and I knew we were going to get Faraway Eyes. Mick played acoustic, and Keith added some real twangy licks. Then came Streets of Love with Mick on guitar. I think Keith had a problem with his black Gibson right at the start because he went back behind Charlie's drum kit and didn't come back out until SOL was done. Armed and ready with the blond tele, Keith jumped right into All Down the Line so quickly that Ronnie didn't have time to change guitars. So he did a lot of fingering work and added just a few flourishes with the slide. Great soloing by Ronnie considering he didn't have the right guitar, but disappointing because the slide really makes this song great. Then Midnight Rambler was a great rocking version; but a bit loose here. Tumbling dice was great, and the crowd was really in to these 2 songs.
Then Keith came on sans guitar for YGTS, then had the black Gibson again for Connection. Here he just played a few lead lines and left most of the guitar work up to Ronnie, who played superbly throughout the night. Of course Charlie was solid as always and got a huge ovation from the fans during the intros.
Then Mick was back on with the headset and the B-stage started moving it's way across the stadium. Here we had a great view of the band from our seats in section 109. We got SMU and HTW which really had the crowd rocking. Too short, the B-stage moved back for the rest of the warhorses. Paint It, Black was really awesome to hear. Then Satisfaction was a great jam with Mick and Keith really working the wings. Encore was Brown Sugar with an extended jam at the end and lots of Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, WOOs!!
All in all, the band was really great. It was Yannis' first Stones show, and he was completely blown awasy by the music and the band's energy.. He's now dying to see them again. What a great time.
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