It's Only Rock'n Roll
The set list:
It's a good thing I went to that First Union Center show. If it didn't totally prepare me for the full frontal assault that was this show, at least it toughened me up. The sound mix was much improved this time. I noticed it immediately during yet another stellar set by the Pretenders. Unfortunately, they were cutoff during "Mystery Achievement" (I suppose for time considerations), and went right into their closer "Brass In Pocket." The Garden has an 11:30 end time rule for rock shows, so they had to get the Stones on earlier (albeit only by about five minutes). Too bad the bulk of the annoyingly hip New York audience didn't see fit to arrive until the set was half over. Philly fans really know their post-punk power pop. We should learn from them. Even so, no old audience jokes this time around. This audience definitely skewed younger, and many were snappy dressers. And the icing on the cake was when I ran into my college roommate who I hadn't seen in about 20 years on the way into the Garden. It set the tone for the whole night.
I hadn't finished processing the First Union show when Keith charged to the edge of the stage with the opening chords of "Street Fighting Man." Mick's voice has never sounded stronger or clearer. And it was to be a night of happy surprises. I've always had a soft spot for "Exile On Main Street" (What Stones fan doesn't). If anyone ever asks you what rock `n roll is, buy them that CD. I was hoping for an "Exile" night, and I got it. But not before the best version of "Wild Horses" I've ever heard live. I'd seen the arena show six days earlier, and I was still drop-jawed.
"Loving Cup" was a near-death experience. Only when they were done, I was still alive and begging for more. Then came "Rocks Off," "Rip This Joint," "Tumblin' Dice." That's the musical equivalent to Viagra. I gotta see them in Amsterdam with a hooker sometime... but I digress. Keith tried out "Thru and Thru" for the first time in a rendition that really got under the skin. "Before They Make Me Run," after something of a false start, turned into sing along with Keith. "Love Train" was, well, uplifting. Once again, Charlie laid the foundation on "Can't You Hear Me Knocking." He keeps an already freewheeling band from spinning out of control on one of their most freewheeling numbers. He does that alot, pulling the band out of numerous crash drives throughout the course of the evening. But that's nothing less than what we expect from this band when they play New York. Not since the first time I saw the Clash, have I seen this level of raw intensity. And still, I could sing along.
The small stage included a version of "Mannish Boy" that could've raised Muddy Waters from the dead. Wherever he was, I'm sure he was smiling. If I'd closed my eyes, I could've sworn I was in a Chicago blues club. "Shattered" was as ragged as the shmata that Mick sings about, but oh so appropriate for this town. Then, "Brown Sugar," lean and mean. Then, the encores. And then it was over. Perhaps the finest rock `n roll show I've ever seen. Certainly up there with the second of their three shows here in 1998, the Baltimore Civic Center in 1966, Veterans Stadium in 1997. So many magic moments. So much more to process. Then, I can die happy.
Review by Bjørnulf Vik"Can't You Hear Me Knocking" at a point in the show when I was already so satisfied, but it feels so wrong to do this show like a song by song report, so I will do it in the emotional order, not the playing order...
May be it helped to see them in Boston. For the opening shows, I must have been more nervous than the band, without knowing why. Here in New York I didn't wory about anything, may be still a bit jetlagged.
"Can't You Hear Me Knocking" is the Christmas gift of all Christmas gifts. It is so complex, still so enjoyable. The first part runs smoothly, just like the regular songs. Then Bobby Keys walks slowly into the spotligts and does his part, so close to the original that you feel you have just walked out of a time machine and you are back in 1971 playing it again and again on the record, that eventually were worn out and had to be replaced by a new one.
I try not to be hypnotized by Bobby, seing Mick is walking around on the stage like a stray cat, picking up and playing some maracas, and I wonder when he is going for the harmonica. No rush still. As Bobby slowly fade out and his spotlight is off, Mick have his harmonica like the magician picks the rabbit out of his hat, and he starts the new section of this great song. It's different from last time I heard his bit. Shorter tones, not long and howling, but shorter. He plays it again and again, like the stray cat is crying for the other cats in the back alley. I am almost hypnotized, and I am sure I can't tell you what is going on in the rest of the arena. May be my eyes move over to Ronnie a few times, because I know he will be on soon, but Mick's harmonica is everything for me for the moment.
Then Ronnie starts. The riffs are so simple still so strong. He walks to the front on his right side, left to us that is. The crowd is cheering as they realize it is not just Bobby that is running this time machine, even Ronnie brings back all the old memories of this song, even stronger.
By now every singe hair on my body has raised. I am sure. It feels just like you are really, really scared. But I am just enjoying it so much. Ronnie is playing it as esasy as if it was no work at all. He is swinging around at times, dancing, and I start thinking: "Please Ronnie, don't stop! Please play it some more. Don't finish yet..." And he plays on and on.
Ronnie moves on to the center of the stage. I have now realized that Ronnie must have been reading my mind, because it feels a lot longer than usual, and it is so great, this song and his playing. Then he rotates a few times on his center spot, I realize they can't play this song forever, and it is over. What a song. What a guitar playing. And having this song so late in the set, if you know it is coming, it is like waiting for Christmas day to come. It feels so long. But it is coming...
The Garden crowd is so great. Not that the fans and crowds in other cities are bad, but it feels like if you go to the Garden, you go there mostly for the music, and not just for a party. Nobody is going for a beer. Nobody is moving around and blocking my view. Some people are sitting down on Keith's songs, and that's ok as long s the songs are relatively slow, and you need to rest your feet for a while. One other thing is The Garden is built for concerts too. There are lots of wood in it, not just hard metal that is more common with modern arenas mainly built for sports. Perfect acoustics.
"Thru and Thru" was a new experience. It's Keith on his own. Then after a while Charlie crash into his drums for a few beats, and Keith is back. The finish is with the whole band, strong and noisy in a nice and great way.
Love Train was probably better this time than last time I got it, but when the rest of the show is so great, it is no more of a surprise, and when you have a team of 22 outstanding players, it's not that one player, or song that is, stands out more than the other, except for "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", of course.
"Dont EVER Stop" was the words of a small green sign someone had in the front of the crowd, as it was displayed on the screen during the final part of the show. I can't agree more, this show was so good, and I don't even want to think about such an option, they just have to play on and on and on...
Let's get to the concert:
Street Fighting Man - great, lots of energy, great sound
It's Only Rock'n Roll - classic, the crowd really starts to get into the mood
If You Can't Rock Me - excellent version of the IORR classic
Don't Stop - the Mick Jagger touch was really obvious on this version; very good though
Live With Me - waow, just as good as the version from Get Yer Ya Ya's out
Wild Horses - beautiful version, I was impressed
Loving Cup - that was THE moment of the night (with Can't you hear me...); I'm a huge fan of Exile and this version was so touching, so perfectly played. I reached 7th heaven during the song :)
Rocks Off, then Rip This Joint ; excellent versions, they sounded like they had been composed 2 months ago
Tumbling Dice - great, as always
Thru and Thru (Keith) - ok version, little too soft and slow
Before They Make Me Run (Keith) - perfect (even though at the beginning, Keith kind of screwed up...), Charlie on the right beat!
Love Train - very catchy song, great
Start Me Up , then Honky Tonk Women - just great
Can't You Hear Me Knocking - I was so happy when I heard the first notes since I didn't know they were going to play it. I have to say that, tonight for me, Ronnie has officially entered the Stones. This version, that he really led, was just terrific and amazing. The tempo was stunning and Ronnie's playing magic. Welcome to the Stones Ronnie.
Satisfaction - good
Mannish Boy (B-stage) - didn't know the song, but sounded like a great blues; great Mick's harmonica
Shattered (B-stage) - nice version, very groovy
Brown Sugar (B-stage) , Sympathy For the Devil (encore) then
Jumping Jack Flash (encore) - what to say? Just perfect encores, terrific Sympathy. The Stones at their best.
Review by Russ, NY, NYThey were F-ing awesome at the Garden last night. I have never seen them play with more fire and vigor -- not even in '72 (my hallowed year, even though Mick was hoarse on his Birthday).
In fact, all said, this may have been the best Stones concert I've ever seen (and this is blasphemy coming from me because I truly believe their heyday was 69-73 and while I loved Ronnie with Faces, I've always been partial to MT with Stones!!). But they were just explosive at MSG -- even Tumbling Dice, which had become a complete yawn in concert, sounded like they had written it yesterday and they couldn't wait to got out and play it tonight. Maybe it was NY, maybe it was all this focus on their age in the press, maybe it was the pre-show buffet, but everything was fast and rockin' , they played like something actually depended on this show.
All in all, the song selection and pacing was probably the best of any tour so far (no major lulls like Fingerprint File in '75 or the string of "new album" songs on recent tours) and even the war horses sounded blistering tonight -- Start Me Up and HTW especially. Just to hear Lovin' Cup, CYHMK, Shattered, small stage Brown Sugar, Love Train, Thru and Thru, If You Can't Rock me, and Live With Me made it all worthwhile.
Some high points:
Keith doing Thru and Thru in great voice, starting song in spotlight, just him, his Strat and a ton of heart and soul.
A raw, rockin' barband version of Brown Sugar on the small stage (I love this song and have hated it on tour last ten years because it always felt like they were going through the paces. Not tonight.)
Ditto Shattered on the small stage.
Live With Me exploded out of the gate like so many songs tonight and just kept building steam. Better than '69 easily. This song sound so limp recently, but it was bursting at the seems!!
CYHMK and Lovin' Cup -- Just to hear 'em live and sounding as powerful as ever after all these years. In fact even Rip This Joint sounded.
Yes, there were major glitches (sloppy and loose this band will always be...thank god.). Yes, Sympathy sounded tired by the end of the show. Yes they f-ed me and many others over with the presale that sold shitty tix under the guise of "the best seats in the house." Yes they are charging way too much if you just look at the bottom line.
But you know what, all of that is forgotten. They earned every frigging penny last night those sloppy little buggers. Every time I think I can finally write these guys off once and for all, they suck me back in!
Thank god Roseland is still to come.
All I read about the Licks Tour is absolutely true. Even if I have always been a fan of Ronnie, I have to say that he plays really good and like never before. Some songs like Satisfaction are taking a brand new dimension since Chuck’s keyboard is not the most heard instrument anymore
Street fighting man started the show as usual in arenas. Mick jumped onstage and wouldn’t stop running jumping and dancing for the next 2 hours. After 3 days off, the whole band was in a very good mood and in excellent shape.
Then came IORR, and a fantastic raw and dynamic version of If you can’t rock me.
Live with me, which is by the way not my favorite song was played really fast, and Mick was so excited that he couldn’t wait the end of Bobby Keys’ solo before singing the next verse.
Wild horses, which was played by Keith and Ronnie with 2 electric guitars ( not like during the Voodoo Lounge Tour) was one of the best version I’ve heard.
The night’s theme was Exile on Main Street : The Stones gave us great versions of Loving Cup, Rocks off and Rip this joint.
After Tumbling Dice, Mick introduced the band. Ronnie, wearing a black/white shirt with the Japanese pre-WW2 flag on it was introduced as Ronnie “Japan” Wood. He had one of the biggest round of applause ever, just as long and loud as Charlie’s and Keith’s .
Keith played what seems to be a premiere : Thru and Thru. What a treat ! It was a beautiful version, even though a big part of the US audience was too noisy and not really interested in the slow and beautifully interpreted 1st part of the song. Keith, keep that one for the European shows, we’ll appreciate it more!
Then came Before they make me run, with THE big mistake of the show. I didn’t really understand what happened, but after 30sec, Ronnie and Keith were lost, and took 30 more sec to get back to the song properly I think they just should have restarted it, but these are the funny things about live music : sometimes it goes wrong, and that’s also why we love the Stones.
It was the first time I heard Can’t you hear me knocking, and I have to say it was excellent, Ronnie, Mick and Bobby playing excellent solos.
Nothing special to mention about the B stage songs : just as good as the rest. Back on main stage, the Stones gave us a fantastic Sympathy for the Devil, almost as good as the legendary Atlantic City 89 version.
As a matter of fact this MSG show is probably of the 3 best Stones shows I ever saw. I’m really looking forward to Giants stadium on Saturday !
If You Can't Rock Me and Can't You Hear Me Knocking were the two best numbers. They sounded GREAT! In Knocking, they remianed faithful to the album version by doing the long instrumental portion at the end, with Mick performing a solo on the harmonica, and then Ronnie doing a FABULOUS extended guitar solo. He was incredible. That song went on for more than 10 minutes. Mannish Boy on the B stage was also terrific, and again Mick played harmonica on that one. Loving Cup was raw but sounded very good anyway. From where I was sitting (more on that in a moment) the acoustics were weak on Street Fighting Man and Shattered. It sounded like Mick's mike went out during Satisfaction. For me, Shattered was the weakest song. I know they played it for the New York crowd, but it just didn't come off well. It also seemed like something went wrong on Before They Make Me Run, when at the beginning Keith turned around and stopped playing and looked at Ronnie, but Ronnie kept playing and eventually Keith turned around again and faced the mike and continued the song. This was all done in good fun, with Keith smiling the whole time. And on that one Keith did his classic starts-singing- before-his-mouth- is-at-the-mike routine. Keith's Thru and Thru was surprisingly good, starting slow but building up in intensity. The dreadful Bernard Fowler and Lisa Fischer were in the show, but thankfully they did not come on stage until Wild Horses, the sixth song, and did not go to the B stage at all. Both of them flanked Jagger during Love Train, which I thought was a bizarre number for them to do, but the crowd seemed to like it. Bobby Keys was great on sax. Chuck Leavell played keyboards. I very much enjoyed the new song, Don't Stop, and I hope the Stones never stop.
The Pretenders opened the show promptly at 8 pm. Chrissie Hynde was very gracious to the crowd and to the Stones. She performed a nice, solid set. She acknowledged the Stones and dedicated a reggae song to them. John McEnroe (the tennis player) joined her onstage on guitar for her penultimate number, Middle of the Road. Her set also included Message of Love, Back on the Chain Gang, My City Was Gone, and The Wait. Her final song was Brass in Pocket. I have enjoyed her music throughout the years and was thrilled to have seem her live for the first time.
A friend from the office joined me for the show. Due to a work commitment she came late and missed the Pretenders. Before the Stones started, I asked her what she wanted to hear, and she said Miss You, Sympathy, Paint It Black, and Beast of Burden. She got one of four.
We were sitting in section 406, Row G. That's the very last row on the side, way up in the rafters. Sitting there sucked big time. For one thing, it's terribly crowded up there. During the Pretenders, the guy next to me almost got kicked out for smoking pot. The security guard came, and gave him a really hard time. It was also HOT up there, I guess heat rises so the heat from 18,000 fans below rose up to the cheap seats. Also, another thing: If I stood up, I couldn't see well because of an overhang above the section. So I had to lean over or scruntch down if I wanted to stand. So I upturned the seat and sat on the end of it through much of the show. To make matters even worse, there were loudmouthed assholes standing behind the railing directly behind me, yelling, talking loudly and generally being annoying througout all of the Pretenders and a large portion of the Stones. It wasn't until after the concert that my friend realized that one of those goons had stolen money and a credit card out of her purse during the show.
The stage set was no frills. Just a big video screen in the back. During If You Can't Rock Me, it was split in four sections, one for each of the principals. There was some animation during Honky Tonk Women of a scantily clad woman riding the stones tongue logo like a rodeo bull. One of the Exile songs, I don't remember which, featured video images of New York City street life, including people partying, X rated peep shows, and the like. Wild Horses featured a video of highway traffic at night, with yellow lights coming and red lights going away, like a river. Sympathy opened and closed with a lips and tongue logo in flames. And we got red confetti from giant blowers during Jumping Jack Flash.
In conclusion, the Stones put on a great show and I am happy to have been there. Unfortunately the bad seats and the loud, annoying assholes behind us who robbed my companion marred the experience.
The Pretenders were solid, once again, and we were stoked to see tennis great John McEnroe come out to jam with the band. He's married to Patti Smyth, so I'll bet that he is friends with Chrissie Hynde.
The Stones hit the stage at 9:30 and belted out a super strong "Street Fighting Man" followed by "It's Only Rock 'N Roll" Next up, "If You Can't Rock Me" had a better pace than when I saw it opening night at FleetCenter. Being towards the back of the arena in the middle we had a great view of the whole stage and video screens. Everyone was right on for this show. Keith looked so relaxed while wearing a long sleeve pink t-shirt. He looks like he's just kicking back at home on a Saturday afternoon. After another solid version of "Don't Stop" the band goes into "LiveWith Me" which really cooked. Then it was a top-notch performance of "Wild Horses" Mick and Keith hit their vocals perfectly for a magical moment in the show. This is why we come back to see them again and again. The big question; what album would we get tonight? The answer; Exile on Main Street. I already saw it in Boston and would have loved something new, but you can never be unhappy with Exile. "Loving Cup" is amazing and now I've seen it twice in less than 4 weeks. "Rocks Off" and "Rip This Joint" turn up the heat and "Tumblin' Dice" caps it off. A four-song slice of heaven. The band intros were next, with Charlie taking two bows and slapping the cymbals with his towel. He played so well on this show. His wrists were just flicking effortlessly on every song as the beat was booming. Everyone on stage was having a great time the whole night. A lot of smiles and plenty of play between the whole band.
My favorite part of the show was next. Keith on lead for the premiere of "Thru and Thru" A great song from Voodoo that Keith and the band nailed live. The combination of Keith's presence, all alone in the middle of the stage and the sparse notes of the first half of the song were so memorable. The video screen was black and white with a film like quality to the picture. I was totally blown away by the song. The second half of the song really moved with Darryl and Charlie making it work. Keith hit a home run on that one. Of course, it was classic that on "Before They Make Me Run" Keith missed his cue for the first vocal line and needed about 45 seconds to get back on track. He and Ronnie just kept moving forward with the guitar parts and it all worked out fine in the end. It's Keith! That's what we love. And Thru and Thru was a classic.
Mick returned for "Love Train" I continue to love this song. Mick really grooves and the horns are awesome. It's all about different styles of songs. Everyone should just relax and enjoy the music. "Start Me Up" and Honky Tonk Woman" were as always, high-energy and rocking. Then came the signature of this tour so far. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" It was an extra-long version with Keith blistering the opening, Bobby Keys nailing the sax solo, Mick howling on a great harp solo and of course, Ronnie continuing to set a new standard for greatness on the bluesy guitar freestyle. And to think, the band still has to come down the catwalk to the b-stage right near us. But first, "Satisfaction" nearly blew the roof off the Garden. Another magical moment. Sound quality on this night was great all the way through.
The b-stage was incredible for all us standing close to the band. It's the only place where the sound is still clear and we were a few feet from the action. Security was very cool and I took two rolls of photos that came out great, with no obstructions. "Mannish Boy" was gritty and great. "Shattered" was very hot. Mick had a cue card taped to the floor of the stage with the lyrics. "Brown Sugar" was perfect. Three great songs, played right on, and we were right on top of the action. The whole crowd around me was in awe. When Mick and Keith would come to the edge of the stage, we were at their feet and loving it. I have a similar seat for Cleveland in a few weeks and can't wait.
Encores of "Sympathy For The Devil" and "Jumping Jack Flash" rounded out the night on the main stage. JJF was one of the most powerful renditions I've seen. The confetti blowers were right in front of us, we got buried. After the show, the security guards who watched me take all those photos, handed me one of the crew's copies of the set lists left on the b-stage. The vibe was great all night, no one was uptight. They let us all have fun. As Mick said early in the show, "You made it through the rain and the scalpers and you all still look great!" And we got a great show in return.
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2002 -
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