It's Only Rock'n Roll
Show start : 9:00pm Show finish : 11:35pm
Finally inside, I spent the next hour or so walking around calming down preparing for the 9pm sharp start. Then I found my spot which turned out to be great. A girl next to me asked who is my favorite Stones. I told her I do not have any favorite, they are all my favorites, but also I told here that there might me more insight on that from the stage in less than half an hour...
There were cameras everywhere, I mean everywhere. But luckily they did not really conflict with the show experience. I have seen this band eight times now this year and I can tell that putting them on TV makes them slighly more tight, slightly less relaxed, they are focused, which is good for the music, but they are held in a format that some times takes away the slightly rough part of the Stones I love so much. Fact is they made no mistakes in my ears. Fact is they did not do a good show, they did an excellent show. As a fan above average I am proud on behalf of my band. They did great on TV. All my friends and family back home will see how good they are, they will understand why I leave home and work for weeks and months on every tour. And it was great to have Mick mentioning my little home country Norway on stage. People around me bumped into me gently at that point, and I was excited!
Everybody could see the show on TV, so I will not get into any technical song-by-song details. Just a few notes on my side. "Paint It Black" will always be one of my favorites, and it was just perfect, nothing less. "Gimme Shelter" - fun with Lady Gaga who started dancing hidden behind Charlie way before she came up front, and also she danced later on in the show, as we saw on the screen. But Lisa is my first choice on this song, closely followed by Florence Welch who did such a great GS on the 2nd London show.
The Black Keys drummer had his eyes fixed on Keith through the entire "Who Do You Love". I know Bill Wyman said that Keith is controlling the pace not Charlie, but I would expect a guest drummer to connect in some way to the main drummer, as Charlie was in fact keeping the pace. But it was fun to see them.
Mick Taylor got warm and comfortable on stage, and on Midnight Rambler I could see how Keith's eyes sparkled when he had Mick Taylor in front of him on Rambler. This was the homecoming band mate and this was the best Rambler of them all. Mick Jagger did also seem to have a great time up front with Mick Taylor, and as strange as it seems, with three guitar players on stage and Mick Taylor doing most of the improvisation, all of the thre guitarists stood out in each of their own special ways.
Bruce Springsteen was on for "Tumbling Dice". I have seen Bruce a few times, he is always smiling a lot, but now he was like the kid in the candy store. He was sharing the microphone with Mick. Then he was playing guitar. Then he took his own microphone in his hand to move around while singing. Then he put the microphone back to play more guitar. He was simply having great fun on stage, and that excitement was passed ot to the crowd, and into the TV screens, I hope.
This was the perfect ending of "50 and Counting". The Rolling Stones signed off their 50th anniversary with five great shows in two great cities. Now it is time for the band for some well deserved holiday rest. This was as good as it gets. Thank you Mick. Thank you Keith. Thank you Chrarlie. Thank you Ronnie. Hope to see you again soon!
Above photos by Bjørnulf Vik.
Going Down had John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. back, and the army of guitars thankfully did not overwhelm. Mayer held his own with Clark when playing the blues, and both Ron and Keith had turns also. No matter who has played on the song, Charlie and Darryl Jones have been rock solid with a groove that keeps the song tight while allowing all of the guitars to do their thing. Dead Flowers was tonight's web choice, and it was good but seemed to lack the punch of previous versions I have seen. I thought maybe we would be lucky to get Mick Taylor on this one, but the Stones played the song in a conventional way, much like the album. The Black Keys did well, and had a great selection to play on, Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love. Drummer Patrick Carney's playing was in perfect step with Charlie, though the two drummers did not seem to look at or even acknowledge each other during the song.
The ovation that Keith got when introduced was the loudest, longest cheer I have ever heard for him. He seemed very moved by all of the cheering, finally giving in by asking for his guitar so the show would go on. Keith looked and sounded great, and the crowd really got into his two numbers. There was no slowing down tonight, as after Keith's songs we rolled right into Midnight Rambler, with Mick Taylor really taking the point and happily featuring on the song. Since when did Mick Taylor become a showman?! He did mention in recent press that he is less shy than he used to be, and this surely is not the same guy from the 1970s who stood in one spot, expressionless as he played. His playing was fluid, spectacular, and nicely complimented Mick's vocals and harmonica. Keith and Ron seemed very happy to let the two Micks be out front, taking the song from heavy blues to frantic rock and back again. The start and stop parts in the middle of the song were downright explosive.
Another surprise song selection for a guest was Bruce Springsteen joining in for Tumbling Dice. Bruce seemed like he was having the time of his life, exchanging lines with Jagger, playing rhythm guitar and aping with Ronnie as Ronnie played the lead in the song. At times when Springsteen was singing You've Got to Roll Me!, he unbelievably made Tumbling Dice sound like a Bruce song! I am still not sure if this is a good thing, but for this special night why not? The perfect touch came at the conclusion of Tumbling Dice, with Keith alone stage right, doing the lazy extended guitar ending of the song. Keith seemed to be in his own world when Bruce came up along side of Keith and nudged him with his shoulder, breaking into Keith's awareness so both would have a laugh and smile at each other to finish the song. With this performance, tonight in Newark became a rock and roll talking point for centuries to come.
So with tonight's show, the 50th anniversary celebration concludes when it seems like it has just started rolling. This band seems too happy to be on stage, too energized for this to be the end. So bring on Coachella, Glastonbury, and whatever in between! We may not have money or jobs going into 2013, but give us the time and places and we will find a way to be there for the "And Counting" part of "50 and counting"!
Above photos by Michel N. Werthenschlag.
My buddy Jeff and I were in Section 11, near the stage, Keith's side and it was perfect. We couldn't see the opening video tributes, but that was the only drawback. The drum corps is a bit camp, but the opening buildup of the driving drums was so cool. The crowd was fired up into a frenzy. Our seats gave us that intimate look behind the scenes, to see the band ready to hit the stage..I always love seeing that.
Get Off of My Cloud - and the ageless wonders are on the stage.... so much energy. The Last Time - just classic rock...plain and simple...and loud, and energetic. This show was blasting right from the get go.... that always makes for a special night with the Stones. Focused and kicking ass. It's Only Rock n' Roll was driving, with those hot licks from Keith, Chuck Berry-style. When Keith is dialed in, it's always a good sign. Paint It Black - four songs...four home runs.
And then.... I knew it was "guest" time.... And we could see Lady Gaga behind the amps, dancing away, in a skintight black-white striped full bodysuit. She was going nuts. And Gimme Shelter was off the charts. SOOOOOO much energy and raw power from everyone on stage, Mick was feeding off Gaga and vice versa, they danced like crazy, sang like crazy, and nailed the song. Some people may not like her, but I thought she did an AMAZING job. Huge highlight of the night. The dancing face-to-face was an incredible sight to behold, and Lady Gaga was wearing about 8 inch platform heels.
Wild Horses - being without the Stones on stage for six years for me, these songs carry more power than ever. Remember these moments folks, they are priceless.
I was excited to see John Mayer return to the stage for another night, and Gary Clark Jr. - I'm Going Down! ...and boy did it deliver. Keith and Mick have each done the song in solo performances, but this was was awesome. Mayer was so smooth and locked into a hot groove, Clark was on fire, and Ronnie and Keith each rose to the moment. What a great, great song. Dead Flowers- with a cool video tribute on the screen to the legends of soul, R&B, country, pioneers of rock n' roll.....some dead, some living. Very cool. A first for the Stones, so said Mick, with Who Do You Love?...the Bo Diddley classic, with special guests The Black Keys. I thought it was cool. It was a great jam.
And then the two new songs, ...and in my opinion, they were both fantastic! ...Doom and Gloom, followed by One More Shot -----loud !!!!!...Good driving tempo for both, They rocked, and came off better than most new Stones songs do live over the last 15 years. Really, really impressed with the way they played these two numbers. And so impressive that the energy and focus is there. As I said, this band is not of this planet!!!
Miss You- some fans are sick of it. I never am. I like funk, I like a groove and this song always delivers. Darryl Jones' bass solo....hot. Keith and Ronnie were admiring it. What can I say, the song cooked. Honky Tonk Women --- energy, energy....a party as always.
---Band intros -- Mick introduced Ronnie "Wedded Bliss" Wood, or some such phrase, pretty funny. Charlie and Keith giving big applause to each supporting musician, and Charlie whistling for Darryl. And big cheers for Charlie... a favorite moment for me every time, and Charlie came out to the front of the stage for a bow. Keith seemed to get emotional as the crowd just kept cheering when he came to the front, and maybe he even shed a tear?..It looked that way. I think he was truly touched. You could feel the love coming from the crowd in a major way. I'll mention as well, that earlier in the show, Mick did comment on the Connecticut school tragedy and shared thoughts and prayers for the families.
Keith in the spotlight for his two songs. "Happy Holidays everyone..." So great to hear from Keith. All through this show I was really soaking all the moments in.... 2012...and we're seeing the Stones live in stage...just so amazing!!!
Before They Make Me Run- hot again....great little diddy. Keith was so confident all night, even if he's not moving around as much...He was so strong and confident and in his own skin, to the max....and that is always great to see. (69th birthday in a few days...amazing!!) Keith says- This is great "I'm going to have to move in !".... Happy - what can you say... the classic Keith riffs and the kicks and jabs. Keith is the MAN !!!!!
And then behind the amps and equipment, visible to us....was Mick Taylor, huddled with Mick Jagger----ready to come out for Midnight Rambler. So great!!!! Big sound, big riffs from Taylor, Jagger going nuts on harp, and Keith and Ronnie cooking too....Charlie booming. What a moment...about a 12 minute moment!!!! What a treat....and then late in the song....look out, it was a 3-guitar FREIGHT TRAIN the likes of which I've never heard.....SOOOO loud....So powerful....the power of 3.....amazing. FREIGHT.....TRAIN. That's all I can say. WOW.
Start Me Up ---loud, powerful. What a show tonight...
Tumbling Dice with the New Jersey legend....Bruce Springsteen. I loved it...An icon, on stage with THE icons. Glad I was there. Fun party song, Bruce was into it, smiling from ear to ear. Great to see him and Mick work the crowd and the lyrics.
Brown Sugar-- and Springsteen was on the floor, below us watching in awe as the Stones showed us once again, how to rock. Bobby Keys' classic sax solo...and again, power, volume, energy from the whole band.
Sympathy for the Devil --- dark, ominous, ,.....powerful. And Keith was LOUD..... (you get the picture by now...a LOUD LOUD SHOW. Guitars way up front in the mix. (thank you Stones!!)
Encores--- Before coming back on stage, we could see Mick putting talc on his hands and getting an acoustic guitar... the choir came out on both sides of the stage...for "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Another wow moment, drink it all in. Jumping Jack Flash --- growling, grinding, ...hot. Good tempo. Rocking and reeling. Keith worked it, always "the one song" I like to see how Keith attacks it. Soooo good. and when they are LOUD, like they were all night, this song is always a knockout.
And our finale, Satisfaction....was hard and strong... the energy never flailed all night. Jagger was incredible. Just a marvel. The whole band, the whole night, the whole 50 years........AMAZING.
Final bows, Mayer and Clark came out with the backing musicians. And then Mick Taylor joined Keith, Jagger, Watts and Wood for a final bow of the "Stones" and that was a sweet moment.
Final thoughts... Just so much energy and confidence from the band all night. When the smiles are wide and abundant, you know they are in the zone. They are professional, but at the very heart of it all, they love to play, they love to feel the joy, and bring the joy. They rock, they are ragged at times, but so tight as a unit at the same time...it's almost impossible to truly describe. Each member comes together to create an incredible force. So glad it was captured on TV for the whole world, and I can't wait to get home and watch it on the DVR.
50 and Counting......indeed. .... To be continued...It has to be!!!!!
Above photos by Jim Pietryga.
The highlights were Gimme Shelter with Lady Gaga which was a shocker when I heard her belting out the Merry Clayton vocals and owing them, as well as Goin’ Down with John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. showing their skills, and Gary Clark Jr. was on fire with his tasty solo. With the exception of Wild Horses which was kind of choppy, the band seemed to struggle to find the song’s groove, the early tunes were done with an amazing tempo that was tight, unhurried, and prime Stones.
I knew Can’t Always Get What You Want would be the first encore even before I saw the set list, but the choir singing the opening stanzas was brilliant and totally unexpected. All in all, the boys delivered as only they have ever been able to do, Thank you fellas for the fifty years of remarkable music and entertainment.
See the IORR Tell Me forum the live comments and pictures from the show here:
Newark NJ Prudential Center Dec. 15 updates
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 1980 - 2012
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