It's Only Rock'n Roll
But the delay had brought the show into a much more intimate setting, as the Molson Center is an ice hockey arena that normally hold 21,000 people only. During the night they had got rid of the ice hockey remainings of last nights game, and the scoreboard had been lifted anonymously into the roof. They had probably been in a hurry, because the golden draped donut piece, used as a "roof" above the arena stage, seemed a bit rushed, not all in level, and the drapes kinda rushed as well. But it looked great, being scaled down, not so massive as the stadium stage. And having people all around the stage, 360 degrees crowd, is one of the best parts of the arena shows.
I had been walking the streets of Montreal this Sunday, and had fun observing a bunch of some 500 girls age 16 or so that queued all day outside the HMV store. First time I saw the queue I had a split second thought it was related to the Stones, but seing the age and sex of the screaming crowd, I soon understood this was an autograph session for the boys band NSYNC. Never heard of them. But I guess it was a bit like the Stones in the 60's, lots of screaming, hopes, dreams and young hearts with dreams of their idols.
As I walked 4 or 5 blocks up the street, there was another pack of some 50-100 people gathered oustide the rear exit of the Stones hotel. So I thought they hadn't left yet. As I stopped by and talked to some friends, the back door opened and Mick Jagger walked out, smiling, moving through the crowd and into his black car. I have never experienced a bigger contrast in my life. From screeming young fans to polite and still entusiastic fans saying hello to their hero in a bit more controlled manner. These guys were just nice to Mick, said hello, waved, as he walked through them, and slipped into his car. He could have walked the six or so blocks to the Molson Center, but leaving in the car certainly was routine.
The opening band Wide Mouth Mason was one of the best warm-up bands I have seen on the entire tour, and I was so glad I had been there early to see the opening act as well. This three-piece band was based around their brilliant guitar player, having only a bass guitar and a drummer to fill in. My memories went back to a show I saw many years ago with Nirvana, just being a 3-piece band, but still so powerful and full of energy. They did some rockers, a few brilliant blues songs, and before they finished the lead guitarist played his guitar with his teeth, above head, not just for fun, but true great liks, just like Jimi Hendrix did ways back. Truely a great warm-up band, and I wish they all the success they can get.
Mick's voice seems hoarse, a bit like in the first show at Madison Square Garden. May be it's the dry indoor air that makes the problem, but this is Satisfaction, being the first song for the night, so I really don't know... Still, he had no problems, really, and as they did Shine A Light later on in the set, it can't have been that bad anyway.
Going from Japan to South America and then up to Nort America in few weeks would certainly be a test on anybody's health, but Mick and the rest of the band seemed to be more eager than ever to deliver a perfect show. My friends told me the Brazil shows were just perfect, and also I was told that Syracuse was absolutely amazing, so I hoped for the top form to stay in for the Montral shows as well.
The show was tight, great, and the Stones were certainly in top form. Mick did all his running, Keith wandered around, having fun, may be not as busy as he use to be on the stadium stage. Still, he did walk the back stage to please the fans behind the stage as well. Actually, I think those seats behind the stage is just as good as the ones facing the front of the stage, becasue it's all open, hardly any opstructing pieces on stage, except for may be the small wall behing Charlie, making it a bit hard to see him from the seats behing the stage.
Sister Morphine was a perl, and as some was sitting down on this slow song, I was just paralyzed. Strong guitars, strong Mick, strong beat, perfect song. It's Only Rock'n Roll I thought was out for the tour this winter, but it keep coming back many times, to rock up the crowd. Out Of Control is still my favorite of the tour. Simply fantastic. Slow, then exploding. One more time, slow and then going mad. And a third time. Keith's great guitar licks, as he is standing to our right on the stage, Mick as he picks up doing his fantastic harmonicaa playing on the opposite part of the stage, and Keith, as he is rushing to be with Mick, jamming to his harmonica. The perfect rock couple. Too bad there is and end to it.
Shine A Light. It's not a web choice. There were no web choice. But the Stones gave us Shine A Light. One of my favorites. The stadiums can kill this song, but for an arena it's perfect.
Keith open up by saying sorry about the delay, like Mick did early on in the set. Then he say: "I thought it would be better in the spring". He does Thief In The Night, and after the song he is introducing Ronnie's daughter, who use to duet with Lisa on this song, by bringing her up front, and saying "this is Leah Wood, Ronnies daughter, the princess".
I had a seat on the floor, 6 chairs away from the center walkway to the small stage, and just two rows from the center stage towards the main stage. As I had been so lucky to be fronting the center stage during this winter, I had decided not to be that crazy this time, and rather stay calm and cool, just enjoy, relax, and waith the center stage appearance from my relatively close position. But as Keith jumped into Wanna Hold You, all my common sense and cool calm plans vanished, and I found myself again up there. So may be there's no hope for me, who knows. But it was all wonderful!
So they all came by. Charlie, Mick, Ronnie, Chuck, Darryl. I was waiting for Keith. Then they started to remove the ladder that connected the mini stage to the walkway. I turned my head to the mini stage to see if I had really missed Keith. No. Then I saw Keith all the way up by the main stage, smiling, shaking hands, and security got busy placing the ladder back in place so that Keith could make it without climbing. Mick joked about leaving Keith behind, and chief of security J.C. smiled. On with the show.
Little Queenie rocked. A girl next to me had brough the most wonderful flower bouquet I have seen - some green palm leaves with large red Stones tongues as leaves. She was originally seated on a row further away from me, but had probably got the same kick, and was now up in the center stage war zone. Well, at that position, right behind Chuck and Charlie, it's actually very nice, lots of piece and quiet, not so pushu, like in the front and on the sides. During You Got Me Rocking Charlie worked so hard that his smaller main drum got damaged, and they rushed up to the stage to pick up his other one. It was replaced in seconds, and Like A Rolling Stone was on without much delay.
After the center stage set Charlie grabbed his drum, smiled, and walked up to the main stage with the rest of the band. Mick spent some extra time dressing back on the mini stage, and rushed forward on the walkway as Sympathy For The Devil was on.
Keith seems to have added some extra excitement to Start Me Up, like he did in Syracuse. First he does the opening chorts. Then he waits a few seconds, smiling, watching the crowd, like a cat, having just caught a mouse. Then he does it one more time. And again. Then it's on for real.
On Jumping Jack Flash Mick is on like a punk singer from the 80's, like Johnny Rotten with the Sex Pistols. Wearing sunglasses, so tiny, like a teenager, split legs, grabbing the microphone stand like he is about to go down, screaming out the words of Jumping Jack Flash. I am realizing an old song can never get too old, and just like Beethoven never would have skipped his biggest symphonies if he were alive and playing today, JJF will just live on and on...
Then they do the usual two encores, as the confetti is puuring into the crowd. Fans around me are collecting golden and silver confeetti into their pockets and bags, to keep as memories of this great show. And as the final bow is down to the four Stones, Mick is given the unique palm flower bouquet spiced with red Stones tongue leaves, whick the girl next to me had during the center stage apperance. So it's all like a postcard picture, the four, flowers, tongues, amazing.
The Stones is leaving. The cheering keeps on. For a while I think it will never end. I've been to many shows, but tonight I think, may be they will do another encore, as they surely must see the crowd is ready for it? Nobody is leaving, I mean nobody. But deep down in my heart I know the Stones is already in their cars, and on their way back to their hotel. And as the "outro" is appearing in the speakers, and the lights is turned on, I redalize I have to wait until tomorrow to get yet another great show.
Start time: 9:05 End time : 11:25The set list:
Mick spoke quite a bit of French and apologize for the delayed show, cause by the ice storm. "But that`s alright we get to play in a more intimate setting'" he said in French. The Molson Center is quite a bit smaller than the Olympic stadium.
The band brought the house down on Gimme Shelter and Out of Control. The sound was so clear and crisp you could easyly isolate every instrument and listen to them carefully. That's how I noticed how Keith's soloing was so magnificinet, even if he was a little more low-key than usual.
Sister Morphine had quite an impact on the crowd. I was surprised they didn't do a Web choice, but they compensated by doing Shine a Light, to eveyone's surprise.
I had to laugh during Keith's introduction to his songs. He said of Mick "He'll be back a bit later. I told him in the spring would be nice..." and had everyone in the house cracking.
Brown Sugar was so hot and crisp it left everyone in a daze by the time they put down their instruments.
Sorry, I got to get psyched up for tonight. My tickets are even better...
The smallish, far more intimate, 20,000 seat Molson Centre has only been open approx one year, and it was a warm, ready to rock crowd that filled every seat last night. Satisfaction opened with no fireworks (in fact there were none all night), but you wouldn't have known it from the crowd's reaction. They provided the explosion as the Stones hit the stage, and they refused to sit down except for very few exceptions for the next 22 songs. Mick's energetic performance was more than enough to whet the appetite of even the most jaded of the audience. It's Only Rock and Roll, but we like it, said the crowd as the band glided effortlessly through all the hits everyone wanted to hear. Shine A Light was a very pleasant surprise, as were Thief In the Night by Keith (backed up by Ronnie's beautiful daughter) and the band's second choice on the small stage, You Got Me Rocking.
The acoustical performance of the Molson Centre was the best I ever heard for a Stones show. Every instrument was crystal clear, and Keith's rollicking riffs were incredibly bright and distinct, yet dirty enough to keep us all jumping. On Little Queenie, he took three breaks, and we were delirious with joy as the band refused to let the number go. Montreal fans tried to lift the roof off during Like A Rolling Stone, and with the aid of the bright stage lights during the chorus, we thought we had been transported to another plane of life, as we rocked, swayed and screamed out our lungs for more.
The final greatest hits package, suitably adorned with confetti from every corner of the place as Brown Sugar enticed us with strains of southern women and english blood running hot, as we acknowledged our indebtedness to the band's wonderfully hot gift to us on this warm spring night. It was magical, a pleasure to enjoy and a memory that will last a lifetime for all who were lucky enough to be in attendance.
Also, see the review in the Montreal Gazette.
Thanks to Stephane Giroux for supplying the link info!
Read all about the Bridges To Babylon tour in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazine. Next issue IORR 33 out May 20, 1998.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1998 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe