It's Only Rock'n Roll
Now getting in the stadium..... I had a camera. Decent fixed photo deal with a zoom. Originally I had the camera in the sleeve of my sweatshirt which was tied around my waist. I got a little worried about that and decided to stick down my pants which is the safest area to sneak anything in. Might I say I looked a little "happy" this night. Security patted me down no problem and didn't even check my sleeves - so that would've worked too.
Getting to the floor, security was everywhere and I still had this camera in my shorts - and it *wasn't* comfortable. It started to slip down my leg and I had to "adjust" myself a few times as I walked. Getting to my seat I was in awe. I never ever thought I would get this close to the stage. It was a half hour before Blues Traveler and because of security and the lack of people sitting around me I didn't feel comfortable taking the camera out. So I put my sweatshirt on my lap and waited.
Lights went down, Blues Traveler came out and camera left by my fly - I was comfortable again.... The whole night I guardedly took 2 rolls of pictures from row 7. This was just awesome.
As the seats fill in around me before the Stones I know this is going to be a great night. A 6'5" (at least!) guy shows up and sits *behind* me! That's a first. The guys in front of me are my hight or shorter. The older but still cute woman behind me has a nice halter top thing on showing off her artificial chest. The people around me are cool, friendly, not drunk and not smoking (I know its non-smoking in the stadium but that usually doesn't stop anyone.)
So its finally time for the Stones. I saw opening night in Chicago (from mid-field) so I knew what to expect. It went dark and we could see Keith come to center stage. I said to the guy next to me "hold on" and he turns to me and said "huhn? hold on?" I see the comet making its move on the big screen and I start frantically pointing to the stage. I'm thinking - don't look at me dummy! The show is up there! He turned in time. Seconds later KAPOW! Red flames shoot 10 feet straight out of the screen and the guy next to me literally falls down! He's now sitting on his chair and getting up slowly. He says to me "you even told me to hold on...."
And their off! Rock and Roll good and loud. There's Mick 10 yds in front of me coming down the stairs. There's Keith hamming it up for the professional photographers in front. There's Woody and Charlie calmly backing things up. What can I say from 7 rows away - it was cooler than Chicago, warmer than Chicago, and better sounding than Chicago - even Blues Traveler's sound was good.
The start was strong. Bitch really needed a little extra punch to it but it was cool. And I liked hearing Sister Morphine but it was sort of a downer - even Mick admitted it after he finished. I found Mick to be abnormally chatty this night. Maybe being that close I noticed it more and could understand him better. But I really don't remember at other shows (this was my 4th ) and on tapes him being as talkative. Nothing major just little quips and observations from him every now and then.
Net choice was Gimmie Shelter - which turned out to be pretty cool ( I was hoping for "Whip") Lisa is just killer for this song and really plays it out well. Around the time of the new songs ( I was really hoping they would thrown in another new one "Flip the Switch" maybe) they got into a little bit of a lull, I still enjoyed it but others were sitting down here and there.
Introductions came next. Ronnie milked the crowd for more and Charlie gave us a double (stood back up again to thank us) Mick had left the stage for at least a minute before Keith got out a "Thanks Mick" as Mick's introduction before starting into his set. Now here is what killed me. Keith is playing - people behind me are sitting down! from the 8th row to about the 20th or so there was a whole patch of people sitting. Then he kicks into "I Wanna Hold You" which I think just rocks and some stood back up but not many. That's the one song that really stuck with me after I left the show, in fact it's still in my head.
Soon they were heading out to center stage and as usual everyone behind me (now in front of me) was standing on their chairs. So against my better judgment I stood too. For some reason the security seemed to pick on our row. We stood up and within 30 seconds were told to sit back down. People a few rows ahead of me and behind me were still standing. Couldn't see a thing. After a few minutes we stood back up again, and again same guy yelled at us. This time I pointed to the people in front of me. I was trying to get the point across that if the people in front of us stepped down we could then see. Soon a herd of muscle heads with flashlights were ordering everyone off their chairs, but starting at row one so I still couldn't see until the 20 rows in front of me stepped down. Anyway, they played Crazy Mama out there which was different. It sounded to me like Keith was a little off on the vocals to The Last Time. I also noticed that one tower had 4 spotlights on it the other 3 spots the top one turned towards the mini stage but off (burnt out?)
Mick put on his coat and started Sympathy from the walkway. He stayed out there for a while. I thought it was a pretty cool version but everything from this seat was cool. Honky Tonk Women didn't have the lewd movie ( I think HTW had the movie in Chicago??). You would think Madison being the liberal capital of the world wouldn't have had a problem with it. Maybe it wasn't working. Soon Start Me Up was pumping and I knew the show was coming to the end. Fireworks introduced JJF and the guy didn't fall down this time. Encore was Brown Sugar - no YCAGWYW, which I never really liked anyway.
These last 3 songs were really rocking extended versions. We had Mick and Keith on the walkway by us at separate times. It seemed it would never end nor did we want it too. The Glitter started pumping out of the left side of the stage then a lag time then the right side by me. No glitter from the towers like in Chicago. Also it pretty much just erupted out right into the side sections, it didn't blow around much, I didn't even get any on me.
Show ended with 2 huge flames shooting out of the speaker towers which I heard was happening on other shows too. We could feel the heat. And of course the fireworks. All of that just adds to an already great show.
As they left Mick and Charlie took one last bow together before disappearing.
At points in this show I thought to myself. Here I am. The Rolling Stones are mere feet away. One of the most influential bands in the world. This is IT. Rock and Roll. I was awestruck.
As people filed out I sat down and found a plastic cup with "Wisconsin Badgers" on it. I thought "I don't have one of these, might as well take it" then something sparked in me. Suddenly I was in the section next to me. Scooping all the confetti glitter I could find off the chairs and bleachers and into this cup. I had to take it. This was the greatest concert experience of my life. I needed something, anything to take with me. And this was it. Almost like it was a part of the Stones. Some will see this pile of glitter in this cup at my home and think, how odd. But I will know. And it will mean something to me.
The set list:
My seats were 3rd row, section closest to the stage, on Ronnie's side.
1. Satisfaction: Being on the side, as I was is the best view for the pyrotechniques which start the show. Once again quite amazing. Keith sauntered to center stage shortly after 9 and ripped into song #1. The entire number was clear, concise and charged with energy. Mick's mike wasn't turned up for the first line, but all in all quite a start.
2. It's Only RnR: Much like Chicago which we all saw, it was a great cleaned up and slightly slower version compared to the one that appeared as part of the ending "blitzgrieg" in previous tours.
3. Bitch: Horns were fantastic. People have previously mentioned that the guitars were mixed too low, which they have either fixed, or I don't concur (it's not an overpowering guitar song nevertheless). Mick seemed to struggle on the high notes (he mentioned at the outset that he had laringytis and would try to hit the high notes).
4. Let's Spend the Night Together: One of the highlights! Had the tempo of the original version vice when it was plugged in at #2 on he 81 tour. Much more heavy on the guitars (especially Keith's big meaty cords) than 30 years ago or during 81. Definitely a keeper.
5. Rock and a Hard Place: Never one of my favorites, but the 97' live version is as good as any.
6. Sister Morphine: SM was a good choice for the tour and one for the hardcore fans. Ronnie seemed to struggle slightly, with Keith dragging him along. The "magical weaving" as Keith calls it could use a little work here.
7. Anybody Seen My Baby: Anybody seen "Saint of Me." This needs to be plugged in here as soon as possible. I think Mick's bad throat added to the problems, but Ronnie played as if it was the first time he'd ever heard the tune. The rap in the middle ended with "All Right Madison it Go's Like This" (which I understand has become standard - insert the city) thrilled the crowd, but......
8. 19th Nervous Breakdown: Fantastic! Much like LSTNT and "All Over Now" on the last tour, this had a redifined, guitar'ed up, soulful feel and really came off great! Daryl replicated Bill's bass part at the end, but it wasn't auidble.
9. Out of Control: Very, very good live. Much more guitar and build up to the chorous than you'll feel on B2B. Mick outfitted in a shiny silver jacket said "I don't know if this is a fucking fashion show or a ladies boutique." His stage routine during this song, made him look like he was standing still during 78 or 81. If you see a picture of MJ 2 feet in the air, with his body conturted in 5 different directions, it's from "OOC." Olympic gymnasts would have difficulty keeping up with him on this one. 54?!?
10. World Wide Web Number: Gimme Shelter: Mick remarked as the screen came up that "this is getting a little predictable, I don't think we'll ever get to "Factory Girl." Since I saw Lisa Fischer sing this in 89', I've been waiting 7 years for the "high note." Unfortunately I'm still waiting. This didn't come off very well. The crowd loved it but, it was slightly disorganized and lacked the raw energy that "GS" should have. Here's a thought. Since "GS" will win every night, include it in the regular setlist and remove it from the vote which would make the vote exciting. There are plenty of great tunes waiting to be played!
11. Miss You: Done quite well, and the sing along was loud. The video with John Lennon, etc., was missing though. Ronnie and Bobby didn't interact or extract on the solo as in years past though.
12. All About You: A treat to hear a great obscure tune from "Keef", even if my favorite hero missed the intro to the chorus, but had the presence of mind to wave off the horns and repeat. I doubt anyone else even noticed.
13. Wanna Hold You: Keef was crankin'! Even if the lyrics didn't resemble the original this was Keith at his best, laying down those big nasty chords.
14. Little Queenie: The Stones walked to the center stage for the next three and If you didn't love this song, you don't love R&R. It was raw, energetic and down right mean Blues/Rock. Chuck Berry would've had a tear in his eye.
15. Crazy Mamma: Same as above, although MJ had to keep it down a couple of octaves, it was still tough and well performed.
16. The Last Time: Same as Above Again! I can't imagine what a treat it would be to see this band in a bar.
17. Sympathy for the Devil: The intro began as the band made it's way back to the stage. Mick donned a white kimono with bright orange, red and green and sang the first two verses while still on the ramp between stages. A slightly shorter version than in 94'.
18. Tumbling Dice: While the big closers we've all become used to can become routine this was defintely not. It felt like the boys had listened to Side 1 of Exile prior to the show. "TD" was perfect!! From Keith crouching till his knees almost touched the ground (53?!?) and springing into the intro to Mick working the ramps, this one worked great and sounded better. Best I've ever seen.
19. Hony Tonk Women: Typical great version. Keith and Charlie got a little crossed as Keith started the intro, prompting them to restart and Mick to remark "come on you can get it."
20. Start Me Up: Superb!! There were little nuances that improved upon perfection. Keith's guitar was mixed the best I've ever heard for this one. He also added a fantastic little rake up the strings that was the coolest. It's hard to describe in writing, but after the (Dah....Dah..Dah guitar intro Keith throttled the neck and raked upwards causing a Dah....Dah..Dah.DRRRRRRRRRRRRR, I know it sounds odd and the first time I heard it I thought it was a mistake (Keith!?!), but he did it 4-5 times with that same big grin on his face, like he was the happiest man on earth.
21. JJF: I won't totally give away the stage show here, but if you've got a cigarette and you don't have a light, stand in the first 5 rows. I'm sure my eyebrows will grow back eventually! As far as the song, it's very much like the version on "Flashpoint." A chance to work the ramps and let the fans enjoy an extended play version of the classic.
22. Brown Sugar: See Above. Except in lieu of the heat, you'll have another surprise.
Overall it was better than any other group you'll ever see, but by Stones standards a little below par. It's still early in the tour and I think they know where they need to clean up. I think one thing that would help out tremendously: Ronnie focusing a little more on the music and less on the showmanship. Keith and Mick are both in GREAT shape and performing/playing as always. Charlie if anything is better.
Read all about the 1997 tour in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazine issue IORR 30 out Oct. 15, 1997.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1997 -
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