Following the press conference announcing the Bridges To Babylon tour and album in New York on Aug, 18, the Rolling Stones recorded their new video for the first single Anybody Seen My Baby in New York later that week.
On Aug. 22 they arrived to Toronto, as usual, to start the rehearsals. This time at an old theater called the Mosanic Temple, at 888 Yonge St., Davenport, Toronto, Canada, also known as known as the Concert Hall. The building was improved for the Stones, as new steel doors was mounted, as well as several facilities making the Stones feel comfortable.
They stayed in Toronto until they left for Chicago on Sept. 18th. Before that, they had played a secret club gig at the The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, see separate review. On the night of the arrival in Chicago, they played another club gig, this time at a small club called Double Door. See separate review.
Then 3 more days of rehearsals at the debut stadium Soldier Field in Chicago, and the show was on, staring Tuesday Sept. 23, shortly after 9 pm. It was all dark. The stadium was packed. Press and fans from all over the world shared the moment with eager Chicagoans.
The stage is bigger than ever. But the shape is classic, so it doesnt look that big, until you see Mick and the boys in real, and see the proportions. The sound system is outstanding, crisp clear, as good as possible on a large stadium, and the video screen is the same sort as once used at the "pig" Pink Floyd tour, an elliptic, oval shape, just a lot bigger, and sharp and clear as a real photo!
The stage is in all gold. Inspired by Babylonian classic art, I guess. The show usually start around 9 pm. A loud and terrifying sound of lion screams, metallic sounds and noise is pouring out of the sound system, and then Keith comes walking on stage, playing the opening riffs of Satisfaction.
Then they jump into Its Only Rockn Roll. Next is Bitch, later on replaced by the new and exciting fast song Flip The Switch. Following is Lets Spend The Night Together. A great and new version of the old classic. The following the songs Rock And A Hard Place and Ruby Tuesday, as played in Chicago Sept. 23, later on replaced by other songs, see the set list on page 14.
Then they always play the new single Anybody Seen My Baby, still working on getting this ballad right, as it seems, followed by 19th Nervous Breakdown. Next is Out Of Control from the new album. Mick is doing this song in a great way, jumping around like crazy, and doing some great harmonica playing.
Song number 10 in the set is what they call the internet web choice. Anybody with an internet connection can do their vote on a list of 20 different Stones songs, and the Stones pick and play the most voted song on the day they play, more or less on the fly. In Chicago 1st night it was Under My Thumb. On the 2nd night it was Shes A Rainbow!
Following the web choice is Miss You. Everybody is singing. Lisa and Bernard is doing their tricks. A fun song, but some fans want to have it retired, too. Then it is on to the introductions, before Keith is doing his two songs, never to be changed so far:
First Keith does All About You, a slow and nice version. People are sitting down, as it is 70 minutes into the set, and they are getting tired of standing up (nobody is using their chairs). Then Keith jumps into the faster I Wanna Hold You, and some fans is jumping on their feet, dancing.
What follows after Keiths songs is the most interesting and innovative part of the concert. They play 3 songs on a small stage located in the center of the stadium, where the mixing tower used to be. The mixing towers are located to either sides of the center stage, one on each side of the field. The center stage is smaller than a club stage. It is so small, that you really get the club feel when they are out there.And all the lightening and video stuff on the main stage is switched off - its all up to the 4 Stones plus Darryl and Chuck on the small stage - and it works!
They start with Little Queenie on the center stage. A great and new, fresh version of the 1969 live song. Perfect for the smaller "club" stage. The crowd is wild. Then they move into Let It Bleed, later replaced by Crazy Mama. The final song on the center stage is The Last Time, some times replaced with You Got Me Rocking.
So how do they get out there, from the main stage onto the 2nd stage? Well, they were supposed to use a bridge, but when the tour opened in Chicago, the bridge wasnt finished. So they just walked on a catwalk, a simple flat bridge, as you can see on the stage photo on page 32. A lot of excitement among the fans close to the bridge, of course, and a bit dangerous, security wise. The real bridge was ready for Charlotte on Oct. 10, and has been used ever since, on their way out. When they return, they still us the catwalk.
Everyone return to the main stage except for Mick, who wait to start up Sympathy For The Devil out there. Then it is on to the greatest hits section, the final part of the show. They do Tumbling Dice, Honky Tonk Women, You Got Me Rocking (only on the first few shows), Start Me Up, and then finish off with Jumping Jack Flash. Then for encore, they return to do You Can't Always Get What You Want (only for the first few shows), and then the closing song Brown Sugar. And we get the fire works, and of course the final bow.
The band is the same as in 94/95, with Darryl, Chuck, Bobby & guys, Lisa, Bernard, and the new backup vocalist Blondie Chaplin, also doing some percussions.
It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 30 - Oct. 1997 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe