It's Only Rock'n Roll
Photo by Jim Pietryga.
The latest press where Keith said he has an album on the way with Steve Jordan was great to hear, where someone in this marvelous cast of musicians will actually produce a full length recording in the foreseeable future. I only hope that Mick Taylor makes an appearance on the polished up product, like he did on Keith's classic first solo album. That news seemed to have no impact on the interaction between Keith and Mick tonight, with the most interesting spot for their interaction being when they cross out on the walkway during Sympathy for the Devil. This seems to have become a regular and extremely interesting part of the show, with the interaction ranging from playful to cordial, but always a brief matter of seconds.
As far as the unique parts of the show tonight, Sway was the selection from voting on social media. From what I read on the Staples Center reports, I could see how it sounded somewhat rusty, but I think tonight was more a matter of the recorded version not translating really well to a live performance despite Mick Taylor's brilliant guitar. The loud and dramatic guitar parts came across as sounding almost a bit heavy metal in the cavernous United Center (whose sound quality can still border on questionable compared to other venues like Oakland or Anaheim).
And speaking of Taylors, in addition to Mick Taylor tonight we were graced by the presence of Taylor Swift as the special guest. The announcement of Ms. Swift's appearance was released earlier in the day than any other guest on the tour so far, raising the question of whether this was a shrewd tactical move by the Stones to have daughters work on parents who needed a push to snap up the last of the unsold tickets. All question of motivation aside, Taylor Swift and the Stones were excellent together. Plugging her into the Wild Horses/Gwen Stefani spot would have been the easy way out, but it was great to see all parties involved accept the challenge of As Tears Go By. Her spot had me go back to listen to the Marianne Faithfull version, and while Swift eerily channeled the look of the 1960s Faithfull, her voice was superior to that on the original version. There was much slow dancing, turning, and hand gesturing between Mick and Taylor, and she even managed to sneak in a "Hey Chicago", in her usual way of being personable as seen at her own shows. Keith provided beautiful chamber music type backing, sitting with his acoustic guitar. When the song concluded, it was especially nice to see Ms. Swift respectfully kiss Mick, Keith, Ron, and finally Charlie, climbing the drum riser as Sheryl Crow did on Friday. From lyrics, to performance, to acknowledging each of the Stones, it is reassuring to see a young musician who has done her homework before taking the stage. Mick Taylor was my second favorite Taylor tonight.
Photos by Jim Pietryga.
I was very happy to hear "Sway" as the fan vote. However, to echo what others have posted here, it was very obvious that most of the people around me had no idea what this song was. That same feeling persisted with "Live With Me." Both performances were great and, in my opinion, the highlights of the evening, although I wish Mick Taylor would have played on LWM. I also enjoyed "As Tears Go By." Taylor Swift's appearance has certainly created a visceral reaction from many, but I think she performed her part very well and made it work. It was great to hear this rarely-played gem and Keith on a 12-string.
The rest of the show ran the standard format, but was strong. The crowd seemed particularly excited when the choir began the opening of YCAGWYW. This has been a great feature of the shows on this tour and a wonderful opportunity to showcase local choral groups in each city.
Having attended all three Chicago shows, I would definitely rank number 2 as the strongest. With that said, if this was indeed the Stones last-ever show in my hometown, I'm very happy with their performance as well as our vantage point.
Photos by Jim Pietryga.
This show was far from perfect, with both technical glitches and a few mistakes, but it does show that the Stones themselves really are human.
Gimme Shelter has been sounding different every show on this tour, making a great song even greater. Lisa Fischer has mastered it, even with the way she varies her performance from night to night. It is so great to not have this song on automatic this time around.
From there into another of the major highlights of the evening. The supposed vote winning song was Sway, and they brought out Mick Taylor for the first of his three appearances on the night. This was either my 3rd or 4th time seeing Sway live (and first this tour), including the first time it was ever performed in Columbus in '05. This time was, by far, the greatest version I have seen of it. Whether it was because of Mick Taylor or because of Keith's renewed focus on this tour (or both!), this was the version that best compares to the great studio version.
Next came Live With Me, a surprise since it had also been one of the voter choices for this show. First time I've seen it live since '02, and having it be more guitar driven added a ton to this one. This song especially showed how not having Chuck Lavelle play keyboards every second and/or being lower in the mix makes a huge positive difference. The Bobby Keys sax spot was superb, but I'm sure Bobby enjoys performing on the first song he ever played sax on with the Stones.
Then the lighting indicated it would be the ballad for the night. I figured we'd get Angie or Wild Horses again. Then Mick said something about "one of the first songs we ever wrote but we gave it to a young lady", and I blurted out "As Tears Go By!" just before Mick said it. (As if Mick forgot who he gave the song to - but that's another story!) I also figured it might be the guest spot, so I was, well, prepared for Taylor Swift to come out.
Fortunately in my case, I saw ATGB performed live a couple of times on the Bang tour, so I could deal with it. Out came Taylor Swift during the first verse, and she sang a couple of the verses both solo and together with Mick. I'd rate her performance as "tolerable", and give her some slack because there is no way she would know this song, so I'm sure it was a learning experience for her. Or maybe it's because she did hundreds of times better than the Shrieking Crow debacle on Friday night.
Emotional Rescue followed, and the early part of it did not go right. Mick was either late with the cue, forgot the words, or something that gave it a slow start. He also sang a couple of lines in falsetto and a couple in regular voice, which indicates his voice wasn't up to doing it with the vigor he has shown on it throughout the tour.
I normally don't comment much on Doom & Gloom or One More Shot. However, for whatever reason last night, Mick was totally into his guitar work on Doom. Maybe it was because he was upset at how Rescue went. As you know if you see the Stones live, Mick usually plays a few notes on his guitar and often gets rid of it by the second verse. Yet, last night, he "seriously" played guitar throughout the entire song, even looking at it a time or two. I don't recall seeing that happen in years.
The Keith set which followed was, again, one of the better Keith sets in a long time, even though You Got The Silver dragged a bit at the start - at least when compared with the superb versions from the first two Chicago shows. I'm so glad he's doing it every show now. It suits his current voice and style extremely well.
After the Keith set comes the biggest highlight of every show for me on this tour - Midnight Rambler. For those 10 or so incredible minutes, it's the greatest band in the world doing what they do best, and nothing else matters. Unlike Friday, Mick (Jagger) only did one harmonica spot, but everybody on that stage, especially Mick Taylor, goes all out. We could even see Taylor smiling a few times during that, which speaks volumes.
During Honky Tonk Women, something went wrong with Keith's guitar during his solo spot. It was either the guitar itself, the connection, or the amp. Keith realized it and calmly walked back behind Charlie and then came back with a different guitar on, while the band played on.
You Can't Always Get What You Want continues to be elevated to a major part of the show on this tour. The choir coming back in toward the end adds a lot, just as the opening does with the choir and Tim Ries on french horn. If there was a "Most Improved Song" Award, this would win it hands down.
Later, on Jumpin' Jack Flash, Mick's microphone was turned down and we couldn't hear the first line.
So, with the technical glitches factored in with the set lists, as great as this show was, I'm going with the Friday May 31 show as having been the best of the 3 Chicago shows, followed by the Tuesday May 28th show. This was also the first of the five shows I have seen thus far on the tour (with Philly 2 and DC still to come) in which I didn't see at least one song I hadn't seen the Stones do in person before. But this one was still great!
Now sure Mick came in too early twice during Emotional Rescue. It still kicked ass. Keith's guitar "malfunctioned" during HTW. It still kicked ass.You see where I'm going here. Don't let the opportunity pass you by. Go see them! Save some $ and pull the trigger! You never know really if this is the last time.
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.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1980 - 2013
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe