It's Only Rock'n Roll
As Keith always said they would if they continued touring after a year on the road...they have elevated their music to a higher plain. The stage was the best I have seen at any concert....so functional and stripped down. The Stones were the Stones last night and the synergy between Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie was brilliant. Mick and Keith interacted more than I have ever seen which means they are clicking perfectly.
The setlist was refreshing and surprising. With my strange spiritual ways I predicted an encore starting with the sound of Mick's harmonica and I was right....best Rambler version since '73! Keith's guitar thundered and Charlie was sooooo good and loud and tight.
I'm very proud of the band right now and will be seeing several more shows!
Start time: 9:12 End time : 11:10
The set list:
Bryan Adams were on fifteen minutes past schdule at 7:45pm. It was a three-piece band all in white, looking more like some sort of milk commercial... Well, Bryan was good, and he played for three quarters. The sound was rough on his opening song "Summer of '69", but it improved through the set. He did another 8 songs, and in case there are Bryan Adams fans who want to know what he played, I will list some sort of song names. I know this is not the real titles, as I am not a big Bryan Adams fan. Feel free to email about correct titles! The sngs were: 2). Back to you - 3). This time everything is all right - 4). I can't stop this thing we started - 5). It's only love - 6). ... like a knife - 7). Baby when you're down - 8). We're in heaven - 9). The only thing that looks good on you is me. Well, so much for Bryan Adams. We will have him all through California, so by that time I will probably know the real titles of his songs!
They spent three short quarters to clean the stage for the Stones. THe stage itself looked very similar to the arena stage they used last year, but they had replaced the woden colors with those ugly looking yellow and black "under construction" security stripes, the graphics from the No security album released last year. And they had a big crystal clear wide-screen video monitor far above the main stage, almost as high as you could get it. And on either side they had smaller screens. I had a nice seat by the B-stage, so I never felt the need for looking at the monitor, except for when they started up the show...
The lighs went out. People start cheering. It is getting wilder and wilder. The sound of a heavily mixed "Might As Well Get Juiced" is pumping out of the PA, as they show a black and white wide-screen video of the Stones, walking some sort of backstage, on their ay to us. It's a playback, of course, but it gives a stunning effect, and makes your heart beat faster. They are coming to us!
The it's on. Jumping Jack Flash. They sort of took up where they left us last year, by opening up with a closing song. They are all dressed up in black, making a big contrast to the warm-up act. May be it is to give us the club feeling. Lots of guitar sounds. They jump into Live With Me. It's all crazy. But the crowd is quite cool, not as crazy as I had expected. More civilized.
Mick is picking up his red guitar for the first time tonight, and he will do it again and again. They do Respectable. Then You Got Me Rocking. Again, Mick is bringing his red guitar, as they do Undercover of the Night. Great to hear that song. This set is so different from all previous tours. It's like a whole new band. Thanks!
Then they do Moonlight Mile. Mick still with his guitar. What can say, others than it is such a great song,ever since I got it in my hands so many years ago! Shine A Light. Perfect conditions. A song they picked up for the clubs in '95, then brough into the stadiums, where felt it was misplaced, but now, with a roof, like in a church, it's all gospel time and just great!
Some Girls. This is indeed Christmas time. Mick changed a bit on the lyrics. So many new songs. And again, he has got hs red guitar.
Paint It Black. The perfect Charlie and Keith intro. Finally the crowd start to make real noise. What a grdeat vdersion, and what a great song! Then Mick is doing the introductions of the band. Same band as last year, except there is a new sax player, Tim Reeves or something, hard to hear what Mic said, but we will find out soon.
Time for Keith. He did You Go The Silver. Having his botteneck handy,sitng on a stool, as Ronnie was doing the steel guitar. Then he did Before they Make Me Run. Anothe great rock song.
Mick is back, as they lowe a big steel bar cage from the roof, and as it is down to the stage floor, Mick is shoting up into the "jailhouse", singing "I am out of control". On the second verse he breaks out on the left side, and the trck is some of those bars are made of flexible rubber, not steel...
Then Mick is saying: "We are coming out to you". And they wald down to the B-stage. We get Route 66, I Just Wanna Make Love to You and Honky Tnnk Women. Lisa, Bernard and Blondie comes down for the last one. Great. Just great...
Back to the main stage they do Saint of Me. Then It's Only Rock'n Roll, seems to surviv any tours. Start Me Up and Brown Sugar s the only bit we recognize from the fnal bit of the last tour. Then they leave us. All too soon.
Four long minutes. They leave us waiting for more. Then Mick's harmonica is braking the noise, and we get a grea version of Midnight Rambler. A true bonus, as it wasn't even in the original set list! Sympathy For The Devil close the show. It was close to two hours, and it was so great. May be a bit rough, as it should be on opening night. But I am sure that by April, it will all be just perfect. But who wants a perfect and polished Stones show? I rather take then raw, not really well done!
Though it is a familiar live song, Jumping Jack Flash was genuinely refreshing as a start to the evening rather than the late in the show/encore status it has had in recent tours. It was wonderfully clear that the Stones were going to treat us to something special when they indulged us with Undercover and a slightly shaky Moonlight Mile. Watching Moonlight Mile as it gets better and better in concert is really something to look forward to. Shine a Light was smooth and powerful, and Some Girls was done as a raw blues/rap number that made the studio version seem downright sterile!
The absolute highlight of the evening was Keith’s acoustic slide guitar You Got the Silver, which begged the question, Can’t we get more than just two Keith songs, like maybe three or four? Before They Make Me Run allowed Ronnie’s playing to be featured and throughout the show Ronnie seemed better than at any time on the Babylon tour: his guitar was louder, more confident, and more consistent than I could remember.
The small stage turned out to be less than what everyone had speculated about, as it was still just a brief part of the show: Route 66, I Just Wanna Make Love To You, and Honky Tonk Women took place here. Perhaps because they were on the small stage, Keith did not do his customary Jerry Lee Lewis imitation on the piano part of Honky Tonk Women. That added touch will really be missed.
The Mick harmonica/Keith guitar interplay on Out of Control was surpassed by that on the encore Midnight Rambler, which seemed even more soulful and intense than the Steel Wheels versions I remember. Sympathy For the Devil finished the evening, which I am sure left some longing for staples such as Satisfaction or Tumbling Dice, but a missing huge hit or two really did not matter.
Tonight seemed like a very different atmosphere for a Stones tour opener: this was not a mega stadium rollout after years off. This was not an apologetic and measured introduction to new material. This is a regularly working band (as in you could have seen them in four of the five prior years) exploring new parts of their recorded catalogue and reworking old live favorites, attacking their material for the apparent joy of it without trying to explain or accomplish anything else. Go ahead, make jokes about ticket prices or Mick’s alimony. When you see the Rolling Stones having a great time playing on a stripped down arena stage, it is easy to see that the only purpose of the No Security tour is the music and all of its accompanying thrills.
There is a new alto sax player named Tim Reese (I think?) everybody else is the same except Lisa looks EVEN HOTTER. You will all soon see. Has she been working out? When the pedal steel was brought out I thought Keith would do The worst but he said something like,"here's one we've NEVER done live called Y.G.T.S. Blondie played acoustic guitar and Ronnie was on Pedal. It was GREAT. Charlie got the biggest response and looked his normal shy/humbled self.
On Out of Control Mick was in an animal cage that he muscled out of during the song. When they moved to the small stage,Mick's wireless mike was DEAD. He had to uncoil Keith's from it's stand to use and Mick STOPPED Keith twice from starting Route 66. During H.T.W , I was VERY HAPPY that Keith and Chuck DID NOT do that corny bit with keith taking over the solo on keyboard and then the shoe bit kicking it .
I for one thought during the 1994 V.L tour it was cute but by Bridges it got STALE! Start me up had the 3 false start intro. On Brown Sugar Mick repeated the "All her boyfriends were sweet 16" lyric TWICE! No "bet your mama.." lyric! The Encore's Midnight Rambler was one of the best I have heard.(and I have heard MANY!) Its more like the YA_YAS era with the "don't do that" lyric. also I should add Jumpin Jack Flash was also very 69 YA-YAS like. Not the drawn out closer version but more like the studio version, very tight. I am going to both Sacramento shows being my home town so I will report back on wednesday.
At 7:30 Bryan Adams and his band warmed up the crowd for an hour. They are essentially 3 white boys in white outfits. They look like the blonde surfer Beach Boys of old, and projected a squeaky clean-cut California image. Bryan Adams sang his hit, "We're in heaven," with you lying in my arms, not moving around the stage that much at all.
After Bryan Adams and his band cleared the stage for the Rolling Stones, an announcer announced that the Rolling STones were about to start the show. But it was a false alarm. Actually, it was a request to clear the aisles and remain seated during the show. Fans still had a 45 minute wait until the Stones took the stage.
At 9:15, the Rolling Stones launched into Jumping Jack Flash, and the 1999 "No Security Tour" was officially on. The music was deafeningly loud and muffled coming from the indoor arena sound system. Ear plugs were definitely a good idea with seats around the main stage area.
Mick Jagger was in fine form as usual- fit as a fiddle - working the crowd with his relentless enthusiasm and boyish energy. And Keith Richards seemed happy to be playing before a live audience once again. Ronnie Wood seemed chipper and Daryl Jones stood workmanlike off to the side laying down solid bass rhythms. Charlie Watts was his usual, dependable self, seated at the drum kit, banging away.
When Mick sait it was a "Retro" show at one point, it was true. The Rolling Stones introduced "oldies" in their repertoire like Route 66 and I Just Wanna Make Love to You. Many fans experienced the nostalgia of a trip down memory lane with the Rolling Stones, back to the roots and birth of the band in 1962. "Watch out ! We're comin' at ya !" Mick teased right before the band performed on a small stage in the center of the Oakland Arena where the seats cost $300 each. But the cheap seats directly behind the main stage were a bargain because you could look right down on the show as if you were right there with them. You could even see Ronnie Wood's guitar strap adorned with Bridges to Babylon golden lions.
While Mick Jagger took a little breather behind the stage somewhere, Keith played solo numbers, "You Got the Silver," a slow ballad off their Let It Bleed album, sitting on a stool with his acoustic guitar slung comfortably over his shoulder. Before he sat down to play, Keith wished everyone a "Happy New Year," and said with his famous grin, "There's nothing like taking a chance, is there ?" Keith and Ronnie were really getting into their playing, duelling with their guitars at center-stage. Keith's fancy footwork and dancing while playing were nice to watch because you could see how absorbed he was in the music.
The highlight of the show was Mick Jagger in a cage singing "Out of Control." Towards the end of the song, Mick managed to squeeze free through the bars and onto the stage. It was a Houdini-the-magician escape trick he had pulled off to everyone's delight. Mick was also given armfuls of gorgeous bouquets of flowers by adoring fans which he passed over to his back-up singer, Lisa Fischer.Chivalry is not dead when the Rolling Stones perform.
It must also be pointed out that the Rolling Stones had the good sense to play an updated and censored version of "Some Girls" for today's politcally correct audiences, especially in liberal- minded California. Gone were the gratuitously offensive lyrics about black girls with insatiable sexual appetities.
Fans were out of their seats and dancing throughout the entire two hour show. And Mick Jagger's spunky on-stage antics put a smile on the faces of many fans taking the show in. The Rolling Stones closed their kick-off concert with Mick Jagger saying, "Thank you very much, Oakland and San Francisco. You've been a great audience. God Bless You ! The Stones took their bows, left, and the house lights went out. The fans wanted more and signalled with their cigarette lighters flicking in the darkness. They screamed for more. The music resumed as the Stones did their encore numbers: Midnight Rambler, and Sympathy for The Devil, to close the show.
The lights went down at approx. 9:10 p.m following an exellent performance by Bryan Adams. The stones entered stage with "jumpin Jack Flash" and immediately had even the crowd high in the arena on its feet. Keith Richards was perfect with the opening guitar lines as Jagger immediately began his trade mark dancing. Shortly in to the performance the stones had already developed a much different set list with songs such as "Live With Me" and underrated classic "Respectable" wich would have done very well on the large stadium tours. The band eventually changed moods with their first ever live performance of the ballad "Moonlight Mile" which was followed by the gospel and always soulful "Shine a Light."
The middle of the concert featured a vocal performance by Richards on "You Got the Silver" and "Before They Make Me Run." Next came the nights most theatric moment on "Out of Control" which featured Jagger in a cage well suited for the Babylon Lion. Mick eventually escaped and the band moved to the smaller stage in the middle of the arena. There, the band performed the oldy "Route 66" and a slower more sexual version of "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." This caused many couples in the audience to become cuddely and effectionate.
The end of the concert featured grat sing a longs such as "Saint of Me", for this the audience chanted in giant solo just like the "No Security" CD. Also included were "It's Only Rock'n Roll" and "Brown Sugar." The encore included the surprising "Midnight Rambler" which actually seemed a little out of place for this time of the concert. The final song of the evening however was perhaps the most popular of all songs among the stones hardcore fans, "Sympathy for the Devil."
Missing from the set list were "Satisfaction", "Miss You", and "Tumbling Dice" among others.
In the end it was aware that the stones have so many great songs that whatever they play is going to kick ass. And because you can't always get what you want, you will not hear them all.
Boom-out go the lights and the previously mentioned video of the Stones making their way to the stage is playing. People are losing their wigs, screaming insanely like I never have heard at an outdoor show. All of a sudden, likened to the 97-98 Satisfaction opener-the opening licks of Jumpin ’ Jack Flash roar out of the Mighty Keith’s guitar reminiscent of the Ya Ya’ s ’69 shows. Unreal. Everyone is looking and playing outstanding. The sound is raw and loud almost comparable to a garage band. Next with no hesitation, right into Live With Me and more ’69 flashbacks. The set continued with a fine Respectable, a solid You Got Me Rockin’, and the always fun when played live Undercover (Curl up baby… ). After that point, I could have gone home satisfied but there was still more to come.
Mick comes out to announce they have never played this next tune live before and with that, there was a definite amount of additional energy boosted into the crowd. “Moonlight Mile…” he introduced and the core fans knew how spectacular that was. An incredible version for a first ever. Next, a gospel like Shine A Light which had the crowd swaying together like a revival meeting on a crossroad in the South. Another first time song Mick again said as he introduced Some Girls. A perfect tune for the tour as the angst in Mick’s tone was extremely evident with his current breakup in mind. Lines like “American girls want everything in the world…” stuck out like he was truly pleading his case. And it seems as if now it’s the “White girls that wanna get fucked all night…”. I must say that by now, I was amazed that there had only been one song from the 80’s and one from the 90’s and realized that there was no “new album blueprint” before us. Anything could be next...
Paint It Black. Could the great tunes ever come to an end? Not likely. A phenomenal version with that Some Girls attitude lingering over. With that, the introductions begin and we prepare for Keith’s set. He wishes everyone a Happy New Year and something like “…any excuse for some more drinks.” And then, are you kidding me-You Got The Silver! Better that I could have imagined a live rendition would be. After finishing Keith proclaims, “That might have been a first.” Right into Before They Make Me Run. A great live song and the crowd again is whipped into a frenzy. Out of Control is next with Mick inside a cage. It was weird and it seemed like Mick, maybe because it was his first time in front of a big crowd, was uncomfortable. A great live song as we remember from the Bridges tour however my buddy and I feel that the cage antics could be gone by the end of the tour.
Out to the center stage. A fun Route 66 with a pissed off Mick using Keith’ s wired mike (with no slack) getting pulled back like a chained dog. A groaning I Just Wanna Make Love To You and a rippin’ Honky Tonk Woman. Like Sympathy on the Bridges tour, the boys head back to the stage under the intro of Saint of Me which they feverishly kick into. Next, It’s Only R&R which screamed Chuck Berry. It was as if Keith had him transmitting through his guitar. The commercial Start Me Up was next, and although it may be time to retire it, they still play it better that ever. And the set closer- a long smokin’ Brown Sugar. The encore was untouchable. The combination of Midnight Rambler with Sympathy was one that could have blown the roof off the Arena. Like the opening, back to the ’69 shows with a hint of dirty Altamont mixed in. A very solid Rambler with Mick absolutely ripping it up on the harp. And Keith totally grooving off of that. There was a point during a jam that they were transfixed with each other-feeding off one another. And of course Symapthy. An insane final song. What more can be said.
Let me tell you kids out there-this one is not to be missed. Do whatever you need to do to see one of these shows. Even with the high price, you will not regret it. Looking forward to Friday night in San Jose.
Moonlight Mile was much better than could be expected by trying to recreate the mood of essentially an acoustic/symphonic song with 3 electric guitars! Very cool....
Midnight Rambler was NOT on the official soundboard setlist...Start Me Up was suppose to close the main show with an encore of Sympathy. Instead, we get BS, then the double-encore...lasting roughly 20 minutes.
Rte 66 was a little too slow and loose, not nearly the punch of the studio version, or, say the El Mocambo rendition. Needs some work....not nearly on a par with last year's Queenie as a small-stage opener. Guess is that they'll do Around and Around in Sacto tomorrow night.
Just Want to Make Love to You was different than Babylon versions in that Ronnie's guitar was relegated more to the background...Keith took all the leads on his own...and some very impressive ones at that.
Ronnie played better overall than anytime during the Babylon tour....although he had to get a shove from Mick to remind him it was solo time on his first one of the night, Respectable.
Horns on Sympathy were very cool, IMO...gave the song a whole different feel at the end....for some reason I was reminded of that unique version from Hyde Park, '69.
Keith looked and sounded very nervous about You Got the Silver...made some comment to that effect after it was over. Been awhile since he's been up there with a stool and classical guitar (nylon strings) with a slide in hand.
OOC had a slightly modified arrangement...and I believe was extended at the end beyond what was normal on Babylon shows.
Overall, excellent execution....however a little too safe with the Hot Rocks closers...
The stage was simple - 10 towers with minimal lights backed a stage that was at one end of the arena and a smaller stage below the opposite end. The band moved and created the show, Jagger reminded me more of Iggy Pop than of the prancing idol he has become. He never stopped moving.
Familiar songs were treated to new garage like playing; JJFlash, Live with me and Respectable got things going. Then the real treats began.. Moonlight Mile - a tough song to play live. Never been done. Jagger played the opening chords and it reminded me of Mick Taylor, who basically wrote the song with him. How great to pull this one out. The band came in slowly as Jagger stretched to hit the notes that were safe on record but dangerous live. The song had its bumps, but the passion rose above it and made it come to life. Charlie played with soft mallets and Chuck had a nice string section off the keyboards. This has always been one of my favorites and hearing for the first time live made it even more special. They really came together by the ending....
Then a pounding Some Girls which had Jagger beating the chords out while releasing some angst about "some girls want all my money, I don't ever want it back" - got the feeling had something to get off his chest ;-) Baybeeee - this is going places.... Shine a light - beautiful - a gospel flavored rocker that brings the house down.
Did I mention there was nothing going on with the stage? The biggest surprise, aside from the set list, was the fact that nothing was banking on the stage - no rests or video fillers, no props, nothing. Aside from Jagger, there were practically no colors worn by the band, all were in black. (Ronnie did have a yellow shirt). All back up singers and horns were in black so you almost didn't notice them - this was all about the stones. You got me rocking, Undercover, Paint it black - stripped down and powerful. Charlie was hot tonight.
Then we get some more special ones - Keith alone on with a slide guitar starts You Got The Silver - building it to the songs finale with dual slides between he and Ronnie. He follows with Before they make me run - bigger and with horns.
They all get together for Out of control - the first and only stage prop shows up; a cage with Jagger singing wildly in it - it actually was the only part of the show that didn't really work for me - he can't be caged - lose it or lift it to ceiling where it came from.... The small stage had Route 66, I just want to make love to you and Honky Tonk Woman.... With the rest of the bands back up joining them... All were something.
Saint of me got them back to the big stage and we started into the home stretch; Start Me Up, It's only Rock and Roll and Brown Sugar - again, all were raw and without the flashpods and hoopla of recent tours. Then for the encore we get an amazing Midnight Rambler and Sympathy for the Devil. Midnight Rambler was one of the nights best, great harp by Mick and Keith kept the stops right on target - powerful and to the point. Sympathy brought the house down.
I know I missed a few - but overall, this was great. No wires, no gimmicks, no safety net, No Security. Amazing.
Ahh! Opening night. Having caught the '78, '81, and '89 openers, I knew it wasn't likely to be used for a live album, but of course, there's the joy. A chance to see the band actually sweat the details ( like Charlie's jubilant eye rolls after successfully coming out of the sax solo/tempo break in Live With Me). It's cool seeing The Stones have to work at it.
Opening the show with the first of four songs from the '69 set list was a welcome reminder of the invention of the arena tour. Picking up right where most shows have left off, "Jumping Jack Flash" is now part of the cake rather than the very loud and fast icing at the end.
"Live With Me" and "Respectable"chug along at their updated medium tempos allowing Keith a lot of solo time. Part of me misses the chaos of the faster versions.
"You Got Me Rocking" kicks the show into gear, leading into a Magnificent 7 songs in a row that were not part of the Bridges usual set list.
"Undercover" proves there's life after Matt Clifford (though I dreamed of Sly and Robbie on this number, Charlie comes all the through). "Moonlight Mile"! I love seeing songs that Keith didn't originally play on. This will be a show highlight. "Shine A Light" brought on more audience singing than I would have expected."Some Girls"...nasty, hilarious, rockin'. Sometimes I wonder why Mick re-married after Biana.
"Paint It Black" will always transport me back to my first Stones show in '66. I must say it's not the same without the platinum blonde guy. "You Got The Silver"?! This may be the biggest surprise since the Hampton '81 soundcheck version of "Winter". If only Mick would join in... "Before They Make Me Run" soundes sharper than the Barbarian / Wino versions. Makes me wonder where my Oshawa benefit sunglasses are. Fortunately, they found a way to keep "Out Of Control" in the set... and what a cagey solution. I feared this song would be dropped and, as we have all agreed, the last 2 minutes of this song is the best music and presentation EVER.
Hooray for the mini stage! There's never an excuse for dropping a Chuck Berry song, but smokin' versions of two songs from their first album serve as great substitutes...(Long Live Queenie). I certainly "got my kicks" seeing my first "Route 66" in 108 shows. "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" continues the 1st Album medley in fine style. This is how the band started and they can still dig down and find the relevant current value. Putting "Honky Tonk Woman" on the mini-stage is a treat for the back of the hall, but the band seemed a bit distracted this first night with equipment problems and Keith chatting with Lisa for much of the song.
"Saint of Me" sounds great, but would be more enjoyable if I wasn'running up the aisle from two "Yes Security" guards mwho have taken exception to my tape recorder. "DEADer Than I'll Ever Be?"
Well, I found sanctuary a dozen rows away, and catch the wrap-up sequence of "It's Only Rock n Roll's" primal Chuck-ness, "Start Me Up" with the cheeky false start, and topped off with a little "Brown Sugar". Now that's an arena show which reminds us why they had to move into stadiums.
Encore...encore. I was half-hoping they would go back to "No Encores - EVER"...but that isn't the world we live in anymore. I have been itching to see them take out the old "Rambler" for a drive and she still runs great. Always leave them wanting more...not a problem in my case. A little "Sympathy" and a bit of history is behind me. Come on Sacramento...
Read all about the "No Security" and "Bridges To Babylon" tours of 1999 in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazines. New issue IORR 35 out Jan 20, 1999.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1999 -
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