It's Only Rock'n Roll
Show start : 9:27pm Show end : 11:36pm
There were two highlights, maybe three if you include Ed Sheeran's worthy duet on "Beast of Burden." He and Mick clearly clicked, and it looked as if they had done it together a hundred times. This won't make me rush out and buy one of Ed's records. His opening set was painful, although the young women and the housewives loved him.
As expected, Mick paid musical homage to Kansas City, but I had naively thought he might go Rodgers & Hammerstein on us by doing "Kansas City" from the musical "Oklahoma!" - " ... Everything's up to date in Kansas City ... " But no, he did the old Leiber & Stoller song popularized by the likes of Little Richard and the Beatles. Mick claimed the Stones used to open their sets with it - and this made me think they might be doing "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." I assume he was being facetious. Anyway, great old blues song that was much appreciated, and made the night extra special.
And this led into the other highlight, "Street Fighting Man," the audience selection. "I'll have a bash at anything tonight," Mick said. And I'll go out on a limb and say this was the best-performed song of the entire tour. Mick stalked the b-stage like a man possessed. God knows why this fell out of the warhorse lineup. What a great song, truly worthy of returning to the set, maybe in place of the ever-turgid "Sympathy for the Devil."
My one major quibble would be the "Sticky Fingers" double of "Bitch" and "Wild Horses." There's nothing special about those songs, which somewhat defeats the purpose of the whole promo tie-in. At least one of the SF songs should be "You Gotta Move," "Sister Morphine" or "I Got the Blues." Period. No debate. And the other selection can be more populist.
Elsewhere, Mick introduced Ronnie as "the new painter of the Hallmark cards (local reference)" and placed a Kansas City baseball cap on Charlie, who was initially appalled but quickly got into the spirit of things. This may be the first time Mr. Dapper has worn such headwear.
Near the end of "Miss You," Mick said "Take it to the bridge. No, let's take it home." He congratulated the crowd for sounding "f**king amazing" during YCAGWYW, and gently chided the lighting guys for taking the spotlight OFF the choir as he was introducing it.
Anyway, great crowd, bad crowd control. And there's a big scar on my forehead where Keith's pick hit me at great velocity. (And I didn't even get the pick.)
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
A surprising (and what I originally thought as implausible) pre show development was a buzz amongst security because Rod Stewart was first row off the field, stage right. Conversations I overheard between security, "Make sure people don't rush him" convinced me it was not a clever impersonator from the hinterlands. And Rod was approachable, waving at people and allowing himself to be included in the occasional selfie. For the few times Mick or Keith went near him on the stage right walkway, I could not help but notice Stewart remained sitting, though he did clap along with Satisfaction (still while sitting).
I think the Stones may have played marginally better during the Nashville or Pittsburgh shows, but tonight's setlist was definitely the most creative and enjoyable one I have seen so far on the Zip Code tour. While Ed Sheerhan's opening act was not compelling, I am happy to say his guest spot on Beast of Burden was a delight. First, it was simply great just to hear the song live once again, but Sheeran's raspy howl worked nicely with the song (...Never!) and Mick let him handle a large part of it. And during the cool instrumental parts, young Ed impressed me with some decent rhythms on his acoustic guitar as he squared off in front of Keith and Ronnie.
The main highlight of the night was the classic song Kansas City, the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song from 1952 that was recorded by the Beatles among others, and as Mick said, used by the Rolling Stones as an opening number when they played blues clubs in the early 1960s. I can say it was a faithful and energetic version, as I had psyched myself up for my first visit here in twenty five years by listening to several interpretations of the song. In the song's lyrics the street intersection of "Twelfth Street and Vine" is mentioned. Also, it is mentioned in the Dylan song High Water, as Bob references the earlier tune. So naturally as soon as I landed, I put in Twelfth Street and Vine into Google maps. While the intersection has a nice piano inspired paint scheme for its ten car parking area, there is nothing there as it is in the middle of an empty public lawn outside of downtown. And the saddest thing of all were the signs in the display explaining the historical significance of the intersection, as they are so weathered and damaged by the elements that they are unreadable. Maybe some public official can get ten or twenty of those Arrowhead stadium parking admissions put toward making the signs at Twelfth Street and Vine readable again. If the Stones can recognize the city's musical heritage so well as they did tonight, I hope Kansas City can do itself justice by fixing up those signs at Twelfth Street and Vine.
Add in nice versions of Bitch, Wild Horses, Street Fighting Man, and Midnight Rambler (when was the last time Mick got down on his knees during Midnight Rambler?!) and it was a near perfect evening. Street Fighting Man was loud and ferocious, with Mick and Keith interacting the most on this particular song. It reminded me of the brilliance of the recorded version on the Sweet Summer Sun live album from 2013. That one is an overlooked treasure, and I will hit it up soon to enjoy that Kansas City feeling once again.
Band introductions were especially fun tonight, with Mick introducing Ronnie as "the new painter of Hallmark cards", and then adding in his dramatically deep voice "local reference", as Kansas City is the home of Hallmark greeting cards, the largest such company in America. When Mick introduced Charlie Watts, somehow a Kansas City Royals baseball hat was thrown in the mix and Mick put it upon Charlie's head. Charlie quickly took the hat off and inspected it in an act of due diligence to see what he was wearing. As soon as he saw the KC on the Royal blue hat, its appeal was obvious and he put the hat back on his head for another moment as Arrowhead stadium cheered wildly. Leave it to Mick to make Charlie a crowd pleaser on this warm summer evening.
I am already jealous that I won't be in NC for the show this week, and here is advice for those who are on the edge, "Oh I've already seen them, the set list is tired, blah blah blah". Spend the money, put in the effort, and get out there to see the Rolling Stones. They are extraordinary showmen still in full command of their craft, and there are just too many good things that go on in a show to miss seeing one.
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
It is unfair to say that Keith Richards is so great on this tour, because the rest of the band are all hard working and so focused. Like Mick is spending all his energy on every song making sure nobody is sitting down. Or Charlie is closing down a song with an extra boooom that is so short but still right there as the perfect ending. Or Ronnie who continue being focused and spot on every song every show. Yet Keith is taking up so much of my focus on this tour simply because he is doing everything I love about the Stones. The strong riffs not to be confused by any other riffs.
"Street Fighting Man" is like Christmas time every time I get it. I just love it. Play it 5, 10 or 15 minutes, it is just great. I have said it a million times. It is the perfect Stones song. From now on, if someone askn me whyu I go to all these songs, very simple, they might play "Street Fighting Man"!!!
Another reason why this show was great is a reason I never thought about before. If they do "Start Me Up" as the opener then we will get "Jumping Jack Flash" with the "final five" guitars volume tuned up! The opener is a chaos, every time. Thousands of cameras up in the air, beer cups, screaming, they are on, big expectations. Then the show is on, they cut it short. Later on in the show, they do "Gimme Shelter", where Keith sort of tell everyone he is here to play the guitar loud. Lisa is all over him but his guitar is still closest to him so I am ready for the final five.
The volume of the entire band is turned up to the limit before they do the next song, the first of the final five. We get "Jumping Jack Flash" with Keith tuned to maximum, and he is not saving anything at this stage of the show. Between the songs I can see he is catching up breath, sort of like an an athlete, but at this stage there is not much time.
On the funny side, the choir on my side i.e. Keith side started to leave from the male part i.e. the men in the back row, as the band did the restart of "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Luckily they were rushed back so that there were all in place when Mick said thank you and they did the bow. Keith had alresy got his Satisfaction tuned guitar from Keith, so Mick was pretty fast at thanking the choir this time.
Also funny, was the first time I have seen Mick picking up mobile phones in the crowd as he was out there on the extended stage. First time he really did a long series of selfie pictures or filming, then handed back the mobile nicely. Secong time he just toosed it into the crowd like far away from where it was picked up. He trew water at us, my shirt was wet through the show, thank you Mick, he thew the next bottle on Ronnie side, thank you once more Mick, and he was all over. But the Arrowhead stadium crowd wanted it all.
Like one said to the other as we walked out into the night: "We came. We saw them". Sure we did. Nothing more to say really. And they were great!
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
The last time I saw The Stones was in Dusseldorf in the summer of '14. It was my sixty-first show since '75, and while they didn't disappoint, it was nothing compared to what I witnessed last night. From the moment Keith walked to the front of the stage and nailed the opening lick of Start Me Up, pausing for a beat to let it sink in, I knew this was going to be one of those nights. I flat love how Dave the sound guy has the guitars right up front and in your face, and how he tweaks the volume and mix on different songs. I'm convinced that guys the best we've had in that seat.
I had the good fortune of being Row Four Center, Keith's side.It's only RnR started with Keith hitting a bum note, one of the few mistakes by anyone I noticed all night, but Mick reengaged him by sticking his face down at Keith's guitar level as they jammed together and the rest of the song hit a groove. I think its cool how Mick, at times, is as big of fan of how Keith plays the guitar as any of us, and that was apparent at several moments in this show. Ed Sheeran's duet on Beast was good, and I'm kind of sorry I didn't catch his set. Not really. At the beginning of this video linked below, Mick said Ed wanted to play a different song that I didn't catch the name of, saying they didn't have enough time to learn it.
"Kansas City" was next tune, and the obvious local song. It was cool to hear them play the whole thing.
Like many diehard fans, I was in Stones heaven when they allowed Mick Taylor to play with them again, and at times his playing was good, but he just didn't seem to fit in to me. I didn't fully realize that until I saw how tight this band was last night. I saw Bernard at the hotel the night before the show and we chatted a bit and he said in his thirty years with them, they've never been tighter. I kind of dismissed his comment as his taking the official party line, but now that I've witnessed it firsthand, he was spot on. Sorry for doubting you Bernard, you obviously know better than most. He also said "everyone" is getting along so well, as evidenced by their going to Buddy Guy's the night prior as a group, and doing the same in Nashville to see Bobby Keys tribute. When's the last time that happened?
As lots of you know, I named my son Keith Richards, in honor of the a guy I believe is the closest person to what the spirit of rock and roll music means. Keith proved that again to me last night as the intensity he (and Mick) put into this show, and specifically into Street Fighting Man, just blew me away. For me, that song was the highlight, which is amazing as I've never had a show where Rambler was played not be the highlight, and it was a great Rambler. SFM is a true Stones anthem, and I think it deserves to be put into the set list every night for the rest of the tour, especially based on how well they nailed it last night. During this song I began to realize something I never thought I'd say, but I don't miss Mick Taylor and I think leaving him out was actually a brilliant move on Mick's part.
This band is tight, and I'm not just talking about the three core members. Ronnie is playing with a passion and skill that comes with the rust being worn off through his sobriety, and probably also in part from the stability that comes from the support he has gotten from the band, especially Mick, and probably from being happily married again. Bernard and Lisa are so dialed in, their roles have become critical to the sound that I heard last night that blew me away on so many songs. Charlie "Chippendale" as Mick introduced him last night, is just Charlie, which is the perfect drummer in a band like this. His beat is so solid and consistent, its almost like you don't notice him, which he probably prefers. They gave him a Kansas City Royals baseball hat to put on as he walked to the front during his intro, and hopefully someone got a photo of him wearing that. Daryl is such a great compliment to Charlie, and he is just there nailing his parts perfectly so you don't always even notice, except during Miss You when they turn up the sound on his Bass and you realize how good he is as his fingers glide through the Bass.
They seem to have minimized Chuck a bit more. It seems like he's trying too hard at times, trying to over play the songs. He's a great guy and musician, but for me, it's almost if he's too good, too polished, and I kind of felt the same with the new Sax player. I felt the absence of Bobby in a way that made me realize how much I've missed the presence of Stu and Bobby. With the addition of Mick's pal Matt Clifford having so much more of a presence on stage than I've seen before, and many times at 2nd keyboard, that was the most interesting dynamic I saw.
The only regret I have is I didn't get to see Moonlight Mile.
The Stones are like a well oiled machine, with a few parts that sometimes need to be greased, but overall they're money in the bank and they keep on performing at levels beyond what anyone would or should expect after fifty plus years, and at an age and a level where few, if any true rock pioneers have ever gone. The whole organization is like a tight knit family that's juggernauts from city to city like a band of high-tech gypsy's, satisfying the fans by giving them back a piece of their youth while making them forget about everything except what's happening in the world, or in their world, for two solid hours. I feel I've been blessed to have had them as "my band" for forty years, and I'm as proud of that as I've ever been after last nights experience. I say bring on South America and keep rolling on boys!
Photos by Jim Pietryga
The outdoor venues are my favorite, and it has been a while since seeing The Stones on a warm summer night. My concern on the acoustics at Arrowhead Stadium were set aside a third of the way into Start Me Up; it sounded very good. And our sixth row lower level seats on Keith's side gave us plenty of close views of Mick and a few of Keith too. Song selection on the first half was great, and the duet on Beast of Burden with Ginger Ed Sheeran was a favorite. Midnight Rambler was the breakout song for me, as I began the dancing at that point that lasted throughout the evening until the closing fireworks.
What else can be said about this band? The artistry, the energy the fun they bring to the stage is a palpable feeling. Mick's geo-specific comments between songs were well done, as he "clicked his heels three times in Chicago yesterday, and now we are here (in KC)". Charlie sporting the KC Royals hat on his intro sent the locals wild, as did the version of the 1952 song "Kansas City" they played for the first time in 50 years. God bless Keith; love the man and he jogged down the runway back to the main stage after a Miss You walkabout. By the way, was that Rod Stewart seated in the next section over from us? I bet not, but a close look alike instead.
Thank you Mick, Charlie, Ronnie and Keith; another wonderful night celebrating the amazing spirit you bring to entertain and inspire us all. To Cate and Don, our friends from home who we have attended Stones shows with for 20 years, hats off for a hoot in KC. Thanks to our local hosts Laura and Rueben, and Doug and Erin for making us so welcome in your fair city. And thank you to my beautiful son Shane for a weekend we will remember forever.
IORR sounds tired and should be permanently excised from the set list. Without fail I find it a deflating experience after the opener's energy. At least it's not an encore song as it occasionally was during ABB.
Kansas City was an unexpected treat. I'm fortunate to have been there for that rarity and She Was Hot's 2006 Soldier Field debut. I guess Mick going to the ground during Rambler and grabbing cell phones count as rarities/debuts too, so this was certainly a special show.
Mick's mic seemed low in the mix during Bitch. The guitars and horns nearly vaporized his vocals.
The crowd was oddly subdued during Wild Horses. I can see that during D&G, but Wild Horses? That was a head scratcher.
Okay, let's talk about Street Fighting Man. I knew we'd get it because they rehearsed it during soundcheck. When it was for real they proceeded to uncork possibly their best performance, on any song, that I can recall in the past ten years. Keith attacked the opening chords like they'd made fun of his skulls or something. Absolutely a blistering performance that was equally met by the crowd. What a moment.
Rambler was equally vicious. And Mick, during Rambler and HTW for example, I mean what can you say. Exhorting the crowd, falling to the ground, grabbing cell phones, returning the cheers with a huge grin and a "yeah!" look on his face, bumping his bandmates, throwing water and bottles into the crowd, if he's faking all that enjoyment then he's an exceptional actor and should've spent more time making films than music.
The second half, with the exception of the JJF/SMU swap, was the usual. I thought Keith got lost for a second on the opening chords of Gimme Shelter. YouTube seems to confirm that. Also, this was another number during which the audio, including Lisa, was low in the mix. And, as others have mentioned, I wish Mick would grab his Rambler harmonica and wail on it during GS to rough it up a little, closer to the immaculate original.
I'll say this about Miss You -- I don't like the album version, just not my kind of Stones sound, but it's obvious why they always play it. The singalongs, everyone doing the disco shimmy while sardined in their rows, it's fun and I get it even if I'd be the first to sign a petition banning IORR and Miss You from the set list.
All in all, this was my ninth show. It was also the best one I've seen. Missouri and Kansas seem to have a similar effect on the band as Hartford does. No one seems to expect much when they come to the Heartland, and then they proceed to blow the doors off the place (see, e.g., Wichita 2005).
I reached my upper-tier seat just in time to catch the opener, "Start Me Up", which was a little shaky and perfunctory. "But It's Only Rock N' Roll" served notice that this was going to be a great show as the band really tightened up. A very nice "Tumbling Dice" made a nice segue, but "Doom and Gloom" stalled the momentum. Then came a real surprise, "Beast of Burden" sung as a duet with opener Ed Sheeran playing acoustic and sharing vocals with Mick. Then the Stones played "Kansas City" which Mick introduced as one of their opening numbers during 1963. Playing that song, clearly done just for this crowd seemed to tighten the rapport between the band and the crowd.
The band launched into a furious version of "Bitch" and the band hit an incredible groove. "Wild Horses" was delivered in a very sweet and heartfelt manner. Then the by request number, which was "Street Fighting Man" where Ron Wood and Keith Richards ripped it up like chainsaws through butter. Both Keith and Ron were on fire the whole show reeling off one great lick after another. Ron Woods, in particular, really nailed it all night, I had never heard him play as well. "Honky Tonk Women" followed, a very rousing rendition.
Mick introduced the band and the many backing musicians (Bobby Keyes sadly is no longer with us). Then Keith got the spotlight singing "Before They Make Me Run" and "Happy". Keith was in fine voice, clearly having a blast, and Ron Wood contributed some fantastic lap steel to "Happy" which was superb. More fantastic guitar work followed as the Stones tore through "Midnight Rambler" with Mick contributing some great harp playing.
"Miss You" gave the bass player Daryl Jones some room to jam but it got a little ragged and flagged a bit compared to the songs surrounding it. Then came "Gimme Shelter" where back-up singer Lisa Fischer was given a chance to shine with her stunning lead vocals and a really interesting twist near the end. Mick winked and said "C'mon Keith, lets do it" and they launched into "Jumping Jack Flash" as the crowd and band roared. What song could possibly follow that, how about "Sympathy For the Devil" with roaring flames on the monitor and Mick skulking around in a red feathered cape.
A stellar version of "Brown Sugar" finished the show. The encore brought out the UMKC Chamber Choir which did a chilling and stellar introduction to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that was epic. And of course the last song was "Satisfaction" which closed with a great pyrotechnical display. The Rolling Stones really cemented their claim to being the Worlds Greatest Rock N Roll Band with that performance. I suspect Kansas City got one of the best performances of this tour, I cannot imagine how they could have improved on that show. By far the best I have ever seen the Stones play.
I had heard that KC had had soft ticket sales. Probably so. They eliminated the far outside sections on the floor. So I was worried that this might translate to a soft show. At first, it seemed that this is how it was going to go. The first part of the show was fine, but not memorable. But starting with Beast of Burden, things started to heat up. Great version, start to finish.
I was hoping that they'd play just a little piece of "Kansas City." I was blown away when they played the whole thing and killed it! Then, Bitch. Very strong. Keith cranking away. Mick getting into high gear. Than a beautiful version of Wild Horses.
Rod Stewart was sitting in the first row of the "regular" seats right next to the end of the catwalk on Keith's side and I don't know if his presence added any extra motivation, but the band played with extra intensity at this show. Keith absolutely attacked Street Fighting Man. Honky Tonk Women was huge fun. I guess some woman must have thrown her top at Mick while he was out on the catwalk, because he kept it and played with it as he worked his way back to the stage.
The home stretch was great as always, but Mick was out his mind on Midnight Rambler and when they hit the signature break in the middle, the guitars were huge. Ronnie played with such intensity that he messed up a few times during the show, but I'll gladly take it to get the show we got.
There were many more memorable moments but to sum it up Kansas City hit the jackpot. A great 20 song set list, great sound, great performances and a very special version of "Kansas City" all added up to a very special night with the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
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