It's Only Rock'n Roll
Photo by Jim Crowley
I have seen the Stones many times but not this close. The luck of the draw made it a life experience. Not the best show I have ever seen but a respectful effort by them. Full house in Oracle and it doesn't matter to me how they filled it up, that's irrelevant to the audience who loved the show period. Set list was well paced and the few new interjections were fun to hear. I loved Darrel's intro to “Emotional Rescue” he made it super funky. Surprises for me were ‘Live with Me” and “All Down The Line” and one show stopping moment was the appearance of Tom Waits on “Little Red Rooster” Talk about some dramatic the body language.
I loved to watch Keith face during this performance with that shit eating grin on his face. Lisa and Mick had their glory moment in “Shelter” The new songs “Doom And Gloom” and “One More Shot” were fun to hear. Another special moment for he was seeing Mick Taylor on the same stage with the boys once again. He gleams with adoration for them bringing him back into the fold with that kiss on Keith's cheek. He needs 3 songs, come on Mick.
There were the few blundering moments on stage with Ronnie and Keith on guitar slop, but they are who they are and that's what makes them so special. You can tell they love what they do. Keith's verbal intro to his set it full of gratitude he is a shy man who is adorned for a reason. It's not all about his survival yet he such a humble man. I cringe when he lights a cigarette at his age. May life bless him so well?
The revised version Of “You Can't Always Get Want You Want” with choir and French horn is an ode to themselves and the legend they are leaving to the world of music. Bless them for surviving 50 years on, who would have thought?
Photos by John Perga
Photos by John Perga
This show reaffirmed for me how international and unifying the Stones are, similar to the opening show in London last year when I sat next to a gentleman from Croatia who had seen the Stones many times. Tonight I had the pleasure of sitting next to someone from Osaka, Japan and I was thankful that his English was good so that we could talk about the Rolling Stones, what shows we had in common, and how much we love the band. And the best part was that while we had some problems understanding specifics during our pre-show discussion, his English was absolutely PERFECT when singing along with the songs. For any naysayers talking about ticket prices, age, or how Keith is "out of touch" because he does not own an iPod, try to put a price on that shared experience between two people from different countries and cultures from the Rolling Stones.
The biggest surprise of the night was Tom Waits coming out to guest on Little Red Rooster. Waits has done excellent work with Keith on his recordings (That Feel, Last Leaf, Satisfied, and most recently Shenandoah) so I was very excited to see Tom take the stage. However, his interactions with Mick seemed tentative and nervous so that Mick had to encourage him to sing. This appears to be the problem with many guests-- hell, who wouldn't freak out a bit sharing the stage with the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band? Few really seize the moment like Sheryl Crow always did, Springsteen did last year, and Keith Urban did on Friday at Staples Center.
As much as Mick Taylor is billed as a special guest, anyone with a basic knowledge of the Stones understands he is much more than that. Mick Taylor's playing on Midnight Rambler was once again astounding, perfectly--and that means beyond any expectation or imagined possibility--meshing with Keith's blues. Having seen Clapton a few weeks ago, it is easy to say with confidence that Taylor in moments like tonight gives up nothing in phrasing or ability to EC. This show was an improvement over the opener, as Taylor not only took a final bow with all the band, but also with the main four as he did during the 2012 shows. Maybe Keith's statements about Taylor participating more were misreported, but there are other songs that he should clearly be on: Dead Flowers, played tonight is the best example.
It was great that Emotional Rescue was in the setlist again tonight, as it was in L.A. People seemed more into it than they were into Miss You, and I think if the band had to choose between two "disco" songs (though Emotional Rescue is not quite in that category, and two years more removed from that particular dance craze compared to Miss You), this freshly performed tune would be the choice. For all of the people in the arena curious and anticipating how Mick's ad libs would play out for Emotional Rescue, the most curious and amused person judging by the look on his face, was Keith. It was just another moment of interplay between Jagger and Richards that proves why there is nothing at all old about this band.
The classic "warhorse" songs to close the show had plenty of unique things about them that make clear the Stones are not going through the motions like a Las Vegas act. Ronnie's riffs on Brown Sugar were scintillating; this man is far too skilled and confident to even think Mick Taylor's participation in the tour is remotely a threat. The lovable gimmick of local choirs starting You Can't Always Get What You Want is genius, in that you have many new, excited performers join the show. Finally, like in L.A., Mick closed Satisfaction by moving in between Ron and Keith and in front of Charlie, singing a "Get it, get it, get it..." vocal, that reminded me of a scat like vocal Ella Fitzgerald would do. I hope that continues in the following shows, as it is a musical moment whose intensity has no comparison. Maybe if you saw Beethoven do his Fifth live. Maybe.
Okay, the problem.. the gdmf tongue pit and how it blocked the views of the very, very expensive floor seat! Ugh. I mean, a section C, row 16 , would have been fantastic without all that distance taken up by the pit. As the immature Stones fantastic that I am, I tried sneaking up a few rows and standing close to an aisle, but was treated like I hadn't paid over $600 to see the band and not watch the screens. This is a big complaint. I would have loved my actual seats minus the stupid pit. Yeah, just greed, but they should have elevated the floor level seats, if they were going to make it so blocked, off and far, far away.
What a tremendous show!
Photo by Jim Crowley
We would not have been there if not for those $85.00 tickets, and I assure you they are selling *thousands* of those tickets. We've heard the line for the $85.00 will- call tickets in L.A. was huge, and and it was just as gigantic in Oakland, they clearly sold many thousands. They weren't great tickets (but we've had worse seats); we were stage-left in the top section and could see pretty well. I was pleased with how good the sound was even up in the nosebleed section, that's something that has really improved in the past decade or so.
Unfortunately the way in which they handled the $85.00 will-call was horrific. We went to the regular will-call window and were told to go up the stairs, where we managed to get into the wrong looooong line. When we got to the doors we couldn't get in because we had no tickets and nobody could tell us where to go. Then we found another loooooong line which we hoped was the right one--eventually Oakland cops started telling people where they needed to line up since the arena staff didn't have a clue. At least we had entertainment while standing in line thanks to a group of nutball missionaries who held signs and screamed nonstop at the folks in line that they were going to Hell by being Rolling Stones fans, heroin addiction and masturbation being among the many sins Stones fans are subject too according to the self-appointed preachers. When we finally got to the table were they were handing out tickets it was a comical scene. In the age of the computer, the ID-checking ladies at the table were yelling names to some guy with a clipboard who had to look up each name on a huge stack of printouts and confirm that it was okay to hand over a ticket envelope, it was so 20th century.
One funny moment occurred when at long last we got inside and I grabbed a beer to deal with the raging thirst I'd developed standing in line for an hour. The guy ahead of me was a Welshman who almost went into shock at being charged $13.00 for a glass of beer, he suggested someone call an ambulance because he was pretty sure he was having a heart attack. I told him he didn't know the worst, because he wasn't holding a proper Imperial pint, but a scrawny undersized American pint. That caused him to spill some of his overpriced beer on the floor, but at least he was laughing (perhaps laughing in horror).
Naturally there was a fine display of vintage Stones memorabilia on display, lots of old t-shirts and so on walking around on the some fine old vintage fans. Man, the money we've spent on this group over the years. But there were plenty of young folks too, a 20-something couple in the seats in front of us danced for the whole show and appeared to be having a whale of a time.
As for the music, I didn't know what to expect. We all saw and heard Keith struggle towards the end of the previous tour, surgery or whatever the cause was. Ronnie -- well, is he on the wagon or off? I figured Mick would be fine, I don't think his ego would let him do a substandard tour. As it turned out Keith wasn't quite as energetic as he used to be but his playing and even his singing were quite good. Ronnie played well too, maybe he's sober for the tour. Jagger of course worked his ass off, as always he's the master of getting the audience going. Charlie was solid as a rock, when is Charlie anything else? They didn't embarrass themselves, I can tell you that. My biggest disappointment with the music was that they made no effort to approach any song from a different direction. If you've heard them do any of these numbers in the past couple of decades, then that's what you would have heard in Oakland, standard versions with exactly the same audience-participation sections we all know so well.
It was nice to see Tom Waits singing on "Little Red Rooster" -- good choice of a song and good choice of guest artist. I was also pleased to hear "Get Off My Cloud", "Live With Me" and of course "All Down The Line" (never get tired of that one). The two new songs -- snore -- just the Stones trying to imitate the Stones, no new musical ideas, nothing to get excited about. Mick said in a recent interview they don't have a new album because he knows the fans don't want to hear new songs, but that didn't stop him putting two new stinkers in the set list. With all the great songs they have to choose from why make us listen to these two highly forgettable tunes? Another cool moment was the San Jose State Choraliers choir doing the intro to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" -- lovely, and you know those kids will be talking about that gig for the rest of their lives.
I guess they have Mick Taylor on this tour so he won't sue them for back royalties which he says they stopped paying him some time back. It's a damn shame he only plays on one song, and frankly he didn't seem to be playing on half of that song. But when he stepped up and took a solo in "Midnight Rambler" I thought that neither Ronnie or Keith could have even attempted to play like that, they just don't have that kind of chops. It was a short but delicious reminder of the glorious contribution M.T. once made to this band. After "MR" Mick went behind the amps and squatted there until a roadie brought him a stool, and he stayed there watching for the next few songs. That made me think he was going to play again, but sadly he was done for the night. One nice touch was when the band was taking its bows after the show was over Mick Taylor started to walk off and Keith grabbed his arm and hauled him back to take a bow with Mick, Ron, Charlie and Keith, just like he'd never left the band. I don't know if that will happen every night, but it was cool to see.
My wife Maureen did an amazing job of grabbing these tickets long after I'd written off any thought of seeing the band on this tour. It's not that we couldn't have afforded a couple of thousand bucks to see one show if we were willing to pay such a price, it's just that we refused to be gouged like that. We can always find a way to spend that kind of money on our home (you should see the new doors we just had installed) -- so we just were not going to blow it on two hours of music. I'm still appalled the Stones would take over where the scalpers leave off, but it looks like they are paying for it now as they are having to dump many thousands of tickets at cut-rate prices (the $85.00 will-call line at Oakland was just as long as the line of folks who already had tickets). My unofficial name for this tour is The Greedy Old Bastards Tour. I'm glad we got to see them again however, they did a pretty good job even if we've seen better show in years (and decades) past. Considering Maureen and I first met at a Stones concert in Oakland, it seems appropriate we were there again.
Photos by John H Moore
Okay, on to the show: this was number 17 for me, dating back to my first show in the summer of 1989 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Really liking the set list from last November/December and Friday in LA, and was excited to see how much it would change. My feeling going in was it would be in song slots 7-9, as it's difficult to change any of what's in the lineup from Midnight Rambler on. Here are my thoughts:
Only complaint: Mick "forgetting/changing" lyrics! I don't know if he feels his lyrics from years ago don't measure up to his morals or what it is, but I'm sorry Mick, as detailed a guy as you are, and you care deeply about every aspect of making every live show perfect, your changing of lyrics disappoints me. Specifically, on Dead Flowers, omitting "I'll be in my basement room, with a needle, and a spoon" is disappointing. And again, every tour I've seen except Voodoo Lounge, Sympathy live skips over "I watched with gleam while your Kings and Queens...shouted out who killed the Kennedy's...". Why does that line have to be omitted? Unforgiveable! And you think about other songs from past tours, he has changed the lyrics:
Mick, your the greatest front man ever. You made me laugh last night ripping LA, and saying how nice it was to walk in SF, and that you went to Golden Gate Park and Fisherman's Wharf, so you won't be doing as much on the perimeter due to your nice walks today, and that was great and funny! Also, asking how many people in the audience were really from Oakland! Funny! Your voice was in top form as always. You care! Just care a little more and sing the lyrics you wrote, even if it doesn't resonate in 2013, like it did in the 1960's or 1970's!
Outside that minor quibble, thank you band for this 2 hour, 20 minute show, which was fantastic. I'm now committed to at least one more US show, in Anaheim or Philly! And special thanks Ronnie, you are always an MVP on stage!
Photos by Franchise H
Almost sold my tickets when the religious gentleman outside the venue said the band we were going to see sang about drugs and fornication, but we risked it, can’t be worth more than a couple of hail Marys.
I will take a slightly different tack on my review. I read somewhere someone suggesting a maturity to the look and sound of the show which I think is true and may have put off many of the naysayers. The stage, lighting and intro movie were not the flash and bang pyrotechnics and might have seemed tame, but I took it as just another incarnation of the world’s top R&R band. The sound was a little smoothed over for my tastes and it took a little punch out of a few tunes for me, specifically ADTL, LWM, MY, but on the flip side made others pop like BS, SMU, JJF. I usually have to write off two songs per show as ones I just don’t get, sadly I got three. Having sat though two GOofMC’s last tour I begged they not do it but chose it as an opener, redeemed themselves quickly with IORR but tanked me again with PIB, but saved my last one for the end, Satisfaction (but not a bad effort). So for me the opening tunes were hit and miss with a stronger middle to finish. The new offerings were great live, and despite reviews thought ER was an interesting and entertaining diversion. The highlights which have gotten good coverage are not to be disputed, great entertainment, I hope the LRR with Tom Waits becomes a classic. Seemed to be several problems turning on guitars and mikes, or listening to the bangs of Mick putting a guitar down on the stage stairs without turning down the volume, all par for the course. I will say I am used to a Pacific Northwest crowd and found the energy a little low and participation a little subdued on the crowd’s part.
After 50 years of being a fan and having to grasp the concept this may be my last time I survived my least favorite tunes but got my MR and GS, enjoyed the new, rocked to the war horses, and got to see MT take his place in the bow.....all in all a show for the ages.
Photos by Roderick Keur.
Mick was fantastic. I imagine maybe he's moving a little bit slower these days than in, say, 1981 (when the Stones first made an imprint on my 14 year old brain with the standout Tattoo You) but his stage moves are fluid and awesome. Plus, he's in very fine voice. I'm not a musician but I'm fairly sure he's singing every song in its original key, which is amazing I think, for a man his age. His falsetto on Emotional Rescue was so dead on, I got giddy.
I thought maybe Keith was going through the motions on the first three or four songs, he seemed out of it, but at some point he perked right up, and was doing everything on guitar you'd expect. He was incredible on the last song before the encore, Sympathy For The Devil. His chords were authoritative and powerful, and his leads were pretty killer. The next day, I was listening to Sympathy on Get Yer Ya Ya's Out, and I think I like the Oracle 2013 version better, no exaggeration on my part at all. And I'm sure of this because I have the video on my iPhone.
Ron Wood, what can I say, his leads were for the most part good. He took command on Start Me Up. His interchange with Keith seemed a little sloppy sometimes, but it wasn't anything fatal. I don't listen to much live Stones, but I know most of the album tracks really well, so I'm basically accusing Keith and Ron of not being studio flawless, which is sort of a ridiculous criticism. Charlie Watts, man, they broke the drummer mold after him. There's no one else like him; he has no peer. He is just so solid and his fills are a genius of precision and economy.
I was glad they did Dead Flowers. That was a real treat. You Can't Always Get What You Want, with the choir in tow, was also something special.
Mick Taylor was good on Midnight Rambler, and I'm glad he was there, but his performance wasn't really a revelation or anything like that. He seemed really deferential to Mick and Ronnie when he was on stage. I was sitting in section 111, but I have these sweet image stabilizing binoculars, so I could clearly see Taylor and Mick and Ronnie sort of giving each other signals as to when to come in for a solo or a guitar line or not. I saw Mick Taylor play Little Red Rooster with the Grateful Dead in the late 80s, and he laid down a killer slide solo. I didn't really see anything on par with that at this show.
Tom Waits was nuts. I could never have predicted he would be the special guest. He's definitely an acquired taste, I suppose. But it was fun to see him do his growly vocal thing on Little Red Rooster.
I really was on the fence initially about going to this show. I have most of the Stones' albums, and I do like them a lot, but I wouldn't say I'm the biggest fan (my favorite British Invasion band is The Who). But, on the day of the show, they slashed the prices of the lower level seats, so I got mine for 174.90 with all fees. That's still very expensive, but when you consider there were folks in the 200 level that paid well above that when the show first went on sale, it's a relative bargain. Anyway, I'm very glad I went and if I could have afforded decent seats for the San Jose show, I would have gone to that one too. The Oracle show made me a bigger fan of this band, no doubt. My only real criticism would be their insanely high ticket prices. That does not reflect well on them at all. But as far as the live music they're putting out, I have no real complaints at all, only praise.
So, if you are ambivalent about going to this show, don't be -- you wanna see this.
Photos by Roderick Keur.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 1980 - 2013
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