It's Only Rock'n Roll
The Rolling Stones live at National Stadium Narodowy, Warsaw Poland, Sunday July 8, 2018 - Photo by Bjornulf Vik
Show start : 8:50pm Show end : 10:58pm
Pre-show info and live comments:
Warsaw Poalnd 08-July-2018 Rolling Stones No Filter live updates
Keith is most of the time in front of Charlie, except when he does the backup vocals like on "Like A Rolling Stone". Mick called it a cover song. The crowd loves it, so I am fine with that.
Mick did his usual local language talking. I don't understand Polish, but I could recognize some names of Polish cities, and the people around me responded as the cities were mentioned, so I assume his list was a good one. But then, as "Honky Tonk Women" finished, Mick did not speak in Polish, but in English, because he had something important to say, and he wanted it to be right. Mick said:
"We have been coming here since 1967... Hang on to everything you learned since then" ...
Keith did a brilliant set on his own, and when Ronnie is next to him on both songs, they seems to be like an old couple, never to be separated. After "You Got The Silver", with both of them on the acoustic guitars, Ronnie is getting a big hug from Keith, standard procedure, but it is from his heart and soul every night, I am sure. Then we get "Before They Make Me Run". Keith is sticking to the formula "Never change a winning team".
Mick is back for "Sympathy For The Devil". They did not play this song last time they performed in Poland, due to the circumstances and in respect, because there had been a terrible accident just days before the show on July 25, 2007, and Poland was in three days of mourning back then. This time Mick was rushing forward, but his microphone did not work, so he rushed back for a replacement microphone, it was ready and he got it in seconds. The replacement microphone did not work either. Then Mick, as professional as he is, dumped it, and went into an improvised version of an instrumental intro to "Sympathy". While he was on his way over on Darryl side, a crew member was rushing in with a third microphone, trying to get Mick's attention, stage front. Then the microphone was in the right hand, Mick moved to the stage center, and we had all the usual power from Mick's voice, straight through the PA. Power power power. That is the signature from this part of the show.
"Jumping Jack Flash". Mick is up front center stage and start singing. Then he react like a child that got hurt, he is leaving the stage center and heading for Sasha and Bernard. Was his voice gone? Did he fear for loosing his voice? Well he kept a low, very low vocal profile, and I just wondered how he would manage with the remaining three songs to follow. He got great help from his backup musicians, and I noticed he took all the breaks he could find.
Then a break, band off stage after "Brown Sugar", may be a bit longer break than normal, and I think may be they will drop "Gimme Shelter". No way, we get the full show. A great powerful Sasha on vocals, Mick equally powerful in his duet on "Shelter", I am sure they do now have a new miracle formula of how to keep Mick's voice fine for the entire show.
"Satisfaction", Long, great version, Ronnie is finishing off taking off his guitar, Keith has got his guitar going with the strap over his head, then someone in the band decide they will keep "Satisfaction" going a bit more, Keith gets the guitar back on, and we are close to curfew before they finish this great show.
Any mistakes of the technical kind tonight have been minor and just a reminder of their humanity. This was a great show and a great finish of this "No Filter Tour in Europe 2018". But there will be more, they say, so this will not be my last show with The Rolling Stones, and hopefully I will be able to write more reports from future Stones shows. Thanks to everyone on the tour, and thanks to everyone who followed from near or from far away, we are so lucky having these guys firing on all cylinders!
It’s a little late in the game, but I should probably disavow my advice from six weeks ago that budget-minded fans might want to consider staying on the sidelines. An alarming number of wide-eyed super-fans are already penciling in plans for the Americas or Japan next year, and I can only say: Yes, sell everything and do it. Everything about the Stones is unprecedented, and yet it’s so easy to take it all for granted and to pinpoint trivial offences. Guilty, as charged. It’s not the end of the world if Keith forgets to hand Mick the harmonica.
Mick’s voice returned to its usual strength, although it was odd to see him hit by a few sound problems. We got an extended intro for “Sympathy for the Devil” as microphones were tried and discarded. He also looked to Bernard for guidance during the first few minutes of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” I was initially worried it might be throat problems, but I’m not sure. For sure, the song did end a little messily.
As I watched Sasha walk back to the stage after “Gimme Shelter” and hug and kiss both Keith and Ronnie, it occurred to me that this was basically the last day of school. In that vein, I gladly confer the MVP Award on Ronnie for his monstrous solos and team support. Charlie and Keith shared the prizes for “most improved” and “congeniality.” Mick remains, simply, “The Greatest.”
He reminded us that the Stones first played in Poland in 1967. While he did not detail the chaos, he said it was a “fantastic” occasion, and cryptically added, “I hope you get to hang onto everything you’ve learned since then. God bless you.”
In the merciful absence of a song vote, “Bitch” was resurrected for the masses. Mick seemed to think it was a rarity, but he sang it less than three weeks ago in Twickenham. A bit of a snafu in the midsection as he started to sing “Sometimes I’m sexy” prematurely, but this is a cracking good song with the entire musical operation on full blast. They played “Like a Rolling Stone” for the seventh time on this tour, and every single person at the stadium was at full throat. It’s probably as good a time as any to let it rest. I guess “Miss You” isn’t going anywhere soon, but since the bass solo is basically a chance for Mick to wiggle his ass and rap hipster epithets, maybe he can restrict those aspects to the privacy of his home.
Personal highlights included “Midnight Rambler” with an ever so meek “and it hurts” parting shot, and the Keith twofer, which was accompanied by a decent round of “oles” led by the South American contingent. The Polish fans were the best behaved of the tour, although I imagine many would have been irked by the echo throughout the stadium. They lit up their cell phone lights during “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and sang along with gusto to “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” and “Midnight Rambler.” I suppose my first Polish gig was the most enjoyable of the tour on so many levels, including the level I accidentally walked into while trying to exit the stadium - the VIP dinner and viewing section. I happily tucked into a late-snack snack among the Polish glitterati, a fitting end to a five-star tour.
This week, on Sunday, another group of invaders were walking the streets – but very, very welcome invaders. Fans from all over Poland, Europe, USA, Argentina, Australia – the whole world. Everywhere you could see Stones T-Shirts. Outside the band hotel at times 2 or 3 hundred people gathered. The final gig of the 2018 No Filter Tour had arrived in town. The venue, the 10-year old National Stadium, is within a 30 minute walk of the city centre, crossing the historic Vistula river. Everything was set for a grand finale. Beautiful warm, sunny, weather. Lots of friends in town. Lots of tourists. Lots of expectations.
We arrived early, just before the gates opened. The queues were small and the sound check underway. And a heavy rain shower passed overhead, sending fans to shelter under trees. Thankfully the weather then returned to dryness. So the first concern disappeared. The second concern was Mick’s voice. Reports from Prague were mixed. There was no song choice, always a worry for the cognoscenti. We heard no vocals from Mick on the sound check. And there were reports that Keith rehearsed Thru and Thru – why do that unless you need a third song, like in Las Vegas. Concern two largely disappeared as well: more below.
Concern three, minor for many I know, was the confusion of the stadium staff in the hospitality area and when trying to get to the Pit. Nobody knew the route; we were sent the wrong way. Some people had to walk around the whole stadium. Not the first time on this tour. But… we made it, getting 3 rows back just before a very energetic set from Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Great fun; lots of brass; an excellent warm-up act – never an easy task for the Stones. And amazingly, every seat looked filled for their set – very unusual.
The Stones came on exactly to the minute when scheduled, 130 minutes before the show was due to end. They also finished right on time – it was never like this in the 70s or 80s! The crowd roared, and the band responded with a blistering version of Street Fighting Man. Just like all the other shows I’ve seen on this tour, very lucky for me it has been 10, the crowd and the band have a positive feedback loop creating enormous energy and a great performance.
Its getting a bit boring writing reviews of this tour: I now understand why journalists look for bad news not good. The band seemed to be having a great time, really enjoying themselves. No bad news to report there – in fact very, very good news. The performance by every performer on stage, whatever their role, was also very, very good. I don’t recall ever having seen such great interaction between Keith and Mick – smiles, jokes, knowing glances. Ronnie is naturally a ball of fun. Charlie risked slipping into the same mode, coming back after the final bow to throw an additional set of drum sticks into the crowd.
The set list was “safe”. Bitch and Like a Rolling Stone the main variations. The latter was introduced as a “cover” but no mention of his Bobness this time. Bitch was the very first song they rehearsed in London on 30th April – then with no brass section. It rocks, although in a slip Mick started to sing the wrong words mid-song and had to correct himself. LARS is becoming a real crowd pleaser, especially when Mick and Keith stand together to sing the chorus.
Paint it Black stood out for me because of Mick holding the microphone stand and singing and performing like he would have done the first time they visited Warsaw in 1967. The proto-punk phase of his life. Back then they played in the Palace of Culture – the building a “gift” from Stalin. Only PIB and Satisfaction remained today from that setlist, although they have played three more songs from that ’67 tour on this tour – 51 years later. How they ever got that invite amazes me – the Stones were part of the revolution happening in the West, so maybe someone here thought they would have their own cultural revolution?
Tonight’s blues was Just Your Fool. Here I got the first hint that Mick was protecting his voice – you needed to watch carefully. Later in the show it was more obvious and I think he ran around less than usual, and by Shelter Bernard was carrying much more of the vocal load. It would be ironic indeed if Mick, that inspirational figure of staying fit as one gets older, was the weak link. Maybe the dust of Prague hit him? But he is a pro, what they used to call a “Trouper”; the show must go on. And it did – I don’t think many people, except for the serious fans, saw any issues at all.
There were a couple of technical glitches – we had a world record length intro to Sympathy whilst the backline crew got Mick a microphone that worked. The third was OK. Probably a formal written warning for poor performance will be forthcoming from on high. Keith’s guitar was late arriving on Rambler, so Ronnie and Mick jammed, and in the new world of timekeeping Keith started off the song as soon as he received that Les Paul Junior. Keith started Shelter too slowly for Charlie and Mick, but the pace picked up when the whole band entered. Trivial little details that superfans love; only nowadays the band take it all in the stride and have a laugh. But really a 5 star performance by the Stones themselves.
The seven other folks that perform on stage need a few words of thanks. Chuck doesn’t need to direct quite so much now, but that allows some great piano and organ playing from him. Darryl had yet another great evening, topped by an extended solo on Miss You (and some additional bass flourishes pre-solo as well), which ended with Mick’s teasing remarks about girls and “would your mother like that” (sic). Tim also had an extended, soaring, sax solo – and the B3 was turned way up for YCAGWYW. Karl and Tim were really filling out the songs, and Karl’s Brown Sugar solo has some new twists whilst staying “on message”.
Matt has a really mixed role, or so it seems from the Pit. Some keyboards, French Horn, some vocals, lots of percussive effects. Mick looks to him, I think, for on-stage support as well: it works. Sasha did the best Shelter I had heard this tour: Mick was a bit more subdued. Sasha and Bernard came out and danced and sang on Sympathy. Bernard plays a much under-stated role in these shows: he really is a tower of strength and support to the whole band and you see it at farewell time.
Final mentions – the crew. These guys are the top pros. They create and maintain the platform that the band needs to perform, and do it so well it is easy to overlook. We had some echo in the Pit once or twice tonight – not easy to avoid when the back of the stadium is a big parabola. Then you remember the scale and quality of the whole team’s job when it quickly gets fixed.
Suddenly it was the end of the show, the end of the tour. For the band 10 weeks together. Hugs and goodbyes on stage made me realise that these guys wouldn’t be gathering on their plane en route to the next gig, and might not see each other until early next year (allegedly…). There was real emotion in the crowd and in the faces of all on stage, but especially Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie.
If anyone tells you that these guys have peaked, please correct that mistake. In almost any assessment they are at the top of their game; on the top of Everest. They bring enormous pleasure to everyone at each show; people travel thousands of miles, or for themselves pay a lot of money, to see this phenomena. And its worth every penny/cent/zloty.
Some people call them the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. We call them The Rolling Stones! Thanks guys – we like it!!
Fortunately, all of this speculations turned out to be faulty, and Mick Jagger did not display any major problem in his singing.
Warsaw is a very special place to travel to, and even more so to see the Stones live. I had already fallen in love with this town during my previous visit as a tourist, and this trip strengthened these feelings, if possible.
I did infact not only meet with great friends from past Stones experiences, but also got to chat with the most interesting people, who told me incredible stories, either Stones and not - Stones related.
There would be a lot to tell, but so as not to go off-topic I'll only mention that we met a guy who actually attended the historical Stones' gig at Warsaw's palace of future and science in 1967. He gave us a full account of the show as well as on how it was like to live in Warsaw at those times.
All of these great, and sometimes even emotional, conversation happened in the fantastic Narodowe Stadium either before and after Trombone Shorty's set, which was sonically very good and interesting, but which left me slightly underwhelmed on the compositional side, because, at least to my ears, his songs lacked of unpredictability. Anyway, it was a huge progress in comparison to the Kooks, who I had to see twice in the two previous weekends in Germany, as opening act for the Stones.
The Stones showed up without delays, and started their set with a once more electrifying "Street Fighting Man". "It's Only Rock'n Roll" and "Tumbling Dice" followed. From these very first songs it was already clear that it was "one of those nights" in which the band is on, and despite this gig being the last of the tour, they were really tight from start to finish. They probably sounded less brutal and more laid back than, let's say, in Stuttgart, but they were much more fluid in their performance, whose intensity never dropped, and, last but not least, they seemed to have the best time on stage together.
The blues number was the lovely "Just Your Fool", with Mick Jagger's harmonica all over it, and then they played "Bitch". This number was fun, because at a certain point Jagger started singing the verse, whereas all the rest of the band entered into the bridge. I think Mick Jagger followed correctly the song's structure, but he adjusted immediately to the new arrangement "proposed" by his bandmates, so that he sang the last verses after, and not before, the second bridge, and the coda just followed the verses without the bridge being played any more. That was nice to watch because the boys worked around that just nicely, as the consummate entertainers that they are.
While queuing to enter into the stadium, I told my concert buddy that in this gig I'd rather hear something else than "Like A Rolling Stone", which had already been played in many of the previous concerts. Fortunately, this time the band didn't follow my advice, and played that number right after "Bitch". This version of "Like A Rolling Stone" was probably the best one I've witnessed so far and one of the best moments spent as a Rolling Stones concertgoer. Not only the rendition was musically brilliant, but the whole crowd was so much into it and the entire stadium really went gaga over it.
When "You Can't Always Get What You Want" started, the atmosphere was already filled up with anticipation, and slowly but surely in many sections of the stadium more and more people pulled out their mobile phones' lights to make it even more suggestive. Towards the end of the song, I could distinctly spot an amused Keith Richards signalling those lights to Ronnie Wood (who, by the way, really owned his solo).
The Warsaw crowd really stood out as the best one of the tour, or at least of the gigs I've attended. It was very nice, for a change, to be surrounded by people more interested into listening to the music rather than to drinking beer non - stop all the time.
"Honky Tonk Women" was very strong, and after that Mick Jagger introduced the band. Before that, he remembered that the band has played in Warsaw several times since 1967 (which "was fantastic", he added), and reflected about what the Polish people had to through thereafter. Jagger then ended this very brief speech telling to the Poles: "God bless you!". This is not the kind of lines that Jagger usually pulls out in his interaction with the crowd, and it was evident to me that on this occasion he really wanted to pay a sincere tribute to the brave and fearless people of Poland.
After band's introductions, it was time for Keith Richard's set. Whereas I was expecting to hear "Slipping Away", he played a lovely "You Got The Silver" and a very strong "Before They Make Me Run". I watched him carefully throughout his set, and it's really astonishing how much he bettered since last year, either in his appearance and in his playing, not to mention his conditions ten years ago! As a matter of fact, even if his chops might have deteriorated a little over the years, he came back as a full driving force of the band. And we've been enjoying the outcome during this tour.
Keith confirmed his state of grace in the following "Sympathy For The Devil" in which both of his solos were spot on. The song featured an extended intro, because after stepping on stage Mick realised that the microphone wasn't working and had to get backstage to find another one. After failing a first attempt, he came back on stage to entertain the crowd dancing while the crew was looking for a functioning mic. Finally a crew member had to step on stage and tap Jagger to have his attention and hand the new microphone over to him.
Both "Miss You" and "Midnight Rambler" (played back to back) featured extended intros and jam sections: in the former, Darryl Jones took the spotlight with an excellent and groovy solo that really got Mick going; in the latter, Jagger and Ronnie Wood played a call and respond intro with harmonica and guitar, just like Jagger and Mick Taylor used to during the 2012-2014 tour. Both songs were nothing short of sensational (even if I keep rating the Edinburgh's "Midnight Rambler" better) and Jagger managed to really involve the crowd in both of them.
The final victory lap ("Jumping Jack Flash", "Start Me Up", "Brown Sugar") was just perfect, with really good renditions of these immortal tunes, and in the encore ("Gimme Shelter", which has been a monster in this tour, and obviously "Satisfaction") it was clear that the band was very much up for even more.
This has been a very, very strong performance by all members of the band (Charlie Watts included) and it's really been the best possible way to end this great tour. We attended the gig with a pair of lovely couples coming to see the concert from the USA, in both cases featuring a die-hard Stones fan husband and a not-so-much - into - the - Stones wife. Before the Stones stepped on stage, one of these wives asked me if the concert was really going to last for two hours, because she was hoping for a shorter duration. However, when the concert was over she told to me: "That was really good". And that speaks volumes as to how great the boys have been doing in this gig!
As after every last concert of every tour leg, the big question is always the same: "And now?". Of course we still don't know the answer, but there's no point in calling a day right now, as they are really still too good to stop doing this (I said that also after the second gig in Hyde Park, which was thousands times worse, so I can't say otherwise now!).
Caught the last number from Trombone Shorty and I liked what I heard. Need to check out more from him.
A very enthusiastic crowd tonight. Many familar faces in the packed out pit jostling for space. It feels like we are saying goodbye. It seems too early for the Stones to end this tour. The well oiled machine is flowing smoothly, and just seems to get better. There are no unexpected songs and nowt marks the end. Yes hopefully they will be back soon. Highlights for me were Keef and "You got the silver". Great to hear "Bitch" again. Mick's voice sounded fine to me. "Midnight rambler" was strong and powerful. The band seemed really happy and there were lots of smiles, particularly keef who was pumped and full on all evening. Never get tired of "Start me up", the opening riff sounded perfect.
If this was the last time the fans around the stadium were going to enjoy every second of it. When we are exiting they are still singing and wanting more. The Warsaw event T shirt has sold out and there doesn't seem to be any street sellers. On cloud nine after this gig and it will take a few days to come down. Till the next time!
The first time I saw the Stones was when they came to Norway in 1990 for the Urban Jungle tour. Next time was in 2007, and then again in 2014. Then I decided to go a little mad, so I bought tickets to see them twice for the first leg of the No Filter tour. And then something happened – four times on the second leg!!! I had most certainly gotten the bug, but I was NOT going to Warsaw.
But as a fellow Stones-fan/friend whom I met in the pit said when I confronted him about why he was there, as he had said that he was also not going to Warsaw: I had a dream that my hand was cut off, and I could not reach the ticket for the show – which I took as a sign that I had to go. Well I had no such dream, but I had an urge, and itch that needed some scratching. So there I was in the pit again. Seeing a lot of now familiar faces, and filled with anticipation. I even had a new lens for my camera, and hoped to get some decent shots. And boy was I glad I went! It might have been nothing new, but it was oh so good.
Yes, Mick seemed to be struggling with his voice a bit, but like a true professional he soldiered on, and it never really bothered me. I am every time so amazed at his energy, and would have bought his cookbook and work-out DVD in the blink of an eye.
What an inspiration! And they all seemed to enjoy it so much. The pit was on fire, and even though the jumping up and down, and all the arm waving killed the focus in most of my pictures, it couldn’t stop the grin on my face, and the realization that I had done the right thing coming to Poland. At the end I felt so emotional, and looking through all the pictures I got, I know it was the right decision to go for a scratch in Warsaw. It’s only rock’n’roll, but I like it. Till the next time…
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
Photos by Bjornulf Vik
Photos by Hendrik Mulder
Photos by Hendrik Mulder
Photos by Hendrik Mulder
Photos by Roderick Keur
Photos by Roderick Keur
Photos by Geir Greni
Photos by Hauke Jürgensen
Photos by Hauke Jürgensen
Photos by Hauke Jürgensen
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