It's Only Rock'n Roll
The set list
I flew 6 hours on the Friday night Red-Eye from Honolulu to Vegas for this show as I finally gave up on the Bigger Bang erupting in Hawaii this year. If you ever wondered where Hawaiians go on vacation because they already live in vacation, well they go to Las Vegas in case you cared to know. I witnessed show #1 of this tour at Fenway Park and Saturday night at MGM Grand was #60 and the wonderful evolution of the band was evident for this tour and for eternity.
Knowing where the boys had been recently (South America & Mexico) the fear of potential Montezuma's Revenge causing a consequential sluggish and crappy performance was a real concern for all.
While this tour is an overall resounding success, I have read reviews of less than stellar shows, mostly due to band members feeling under the weather, and I was hoping this wouldn't be the case in the city of glitter and glam.
This trip was semi-last moment as my wife had just given birth to our baby girl Alivia and I wanted to surprise her with a quick junket to Vegas and a Stones show. I scored some killer side view seats for half-price on Ebay...I mean, these were bona-fide Keith seats! Right next to the man himself, front row on the side. This was the closest to the stage I've ever been and to think I got such a great last minute deal was incredible.
Most people around me paid $1,000 and up per seat. My wife decided she couldn't make the voyage as she had parental responsibilities to take care of but she seing I took care of my responsibility of giving her a daughter, she let me go solo. I still had the extra ticket so I e-mailed friends and family about a free ticket to the Stones however there were no takers. Then, while talking on the phone with my friend Big John in Boston who does not have e-mail, I casually mentioned the situation to him and without flinching he said, "I am there dude". So, there we were, Big John and I, right up close and personal, waiting with bated breath for the show to start, praying the boys took their Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate if necessary.
"Jumping Jack Flash" was the opener and it resonated most like the original studio version than I have ever heard live before. Typically when JJF is played towards the end of a show it sounds more like a cheesie Whoopie Goldberg movie sound track rather than a journey into the 1960's. JJF rocked in Vegas! Another highlight was a 10 minute resounding version of "Midnight Rambler". I afraid they would give Rambler a rest in Vegas as they had played it the previous three shows and it's not a "Gimme" such as "Start me up". Speaking of Gimme..."Gimme Shelter" was a treat too with Lisa Fisher bringing down the house on vocals!
The Keith set was "This Place is Empty" and "Happy" and Keith wished us all a happy new year which was nice of him. Speaking of Keith... we heard him hit a few real clunkers on guitar throught the show where he is usually spot-on. Perhaps he did suffer from food poisoning in Mexico after all? On the B-stage, Keith started to riff on "Honky Tonk" where the rest of the band was heading into "You got me Rocking (Hey Hey Hey)". All mistakes aside, Keith still rocks and he gives the Stones a defining edge. All the standards were played and at the end of the show, instead of fireworks and flames of the stadium shows, silly string streamer fell from the arena rafters much to the delight of the crowd. I saw 15,000 smiling faces exit the Garden Arena and filter through the MGM casino as a spledid time was had by all.
Will this be the last time? I don't know and I truly hope not. I'm not sure if I'll be able to catch the tour in Japan or Europe so I took advantage of the Friday night cattle car to Vegas for one last glimpse this go-round. Even if there's another tour in the future, it pains me that it may parallel the infamous "Rat Pack" reunion tours of the late 1980's and early 1990's, Can you imagine Mick requiring Liza Minelli to feed him song lines to songs he's done a million times such as "Satisfaction" and "Start me up" because he's expereincing frequent "senior moments"? Or Keith and Ronnie being wheeled out on stage in wheelchairs hooked up with oxygen (and cigarrettes of course)? Will a future Stones tour be titled "Steel Wheelchairs"? I sure hope so because that means they'll still be around for a tour in 2008-2009!
This was another fantastic show. The Grand Garden seems much smaller than
the usual arena and the band took full advatage of the more intimate
Highlights include Beast of Burden, the horn section on Bitch, Gimme Shelter (song of the night) and a great Midnight Rambler.
The so-called warhorse part of the show was very good with Ronnie playing very well on Start me up and YCAGWYW. They even freshened Sympathy for the Devil up by having Lisa and Bernard join Mick up front for the vocals on the last minute or so (I've never seen that before).
Keith has a few interesting moments- he started into Honky Tonk Woman by mistake on third song on the B stage. They all stopped after about 10 seconds and then launched into You Got me Rocking. Big smiles all around.
Also during Brown Sugar Keith found himself on the other side of the stage when Bobby went into the sax solo. Ronnie noticed Keith wasn't there and went over and played beside Bobby. That may be a first as well?
To summarize- a great,loud crowd pleasing show. This is a band that delivers and will surely keep packing them in.
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The reviews will show up here soon! Thanks!
Thanks to Jim Pietryga for great pictures!