It's Only Rock'n Roll
The Hellacopters (warmup) : 8:00pm - 8:40pm The Rolling Stones : 9:48pm - 11:43pm
I had been hanging around the Circus building all day, talking to friends from all over the world. It felt almost like a family reunion. This was the place to be for the fans from Sweden, Norway, and also from most other European countries, plus Japan, Argentina, USA, Canada. Probably other counties too. And to see one of my friends wearing the blue IORR T-shirt I made in 1984 still in use, the one with the classic Keith Richards silhouette on the front, and the red print on the back, it was just great - 19 years later. This was the day when everybody had picked their T-shirts with a lot of planning and care.
At 5:10pm I saw Ronnie's car arriving. I must have missed the rest of the band arriving, probably too busy walking around, because 10 minutes later I could hear "I Can't Turn You Loose" being rehearsed inside. They kept reheasing for another 3/4 of an hour, so I knew what was coming. But first some final preparations, food, drinks etc.
The Hellacopters were a great warmup. Great rock band. For me one million times better than the Hives. I really loved them. Perfect for tonight, and 40 minutes is just about enough when your mind is only onto the Stones.
I was told they might be on early tonight, like in Globen. And by 9pm or so I started checking my watch. I think I checked it every minute or so. It felt like hours between each check, but it only moved a minute. Finally at 9:48pm Michael Cohl introduced the band - the lights went out, and Keith gave us the intro of "Start Me Up".
The set tonight was very close to the Olympia set. May be because they need overdubs for the DVD production. Or may be because the Olympia set simply worked great. Hand Of Fate was nailed perfectly. Same with No Expectations. I think everybody in the band wanted to kiss Ronnie after that song.
Then "Worried About You". How I love this song. Mick on the piano. All falsetto singing for the first verses. Then he leaves for center stage, and Blondie takes over the piano. Sometimes I wonder Why... I could take 20 of this one only, and live happily ever after.
"It's Only Rock'n Roll" got the biggest ovation of all songs so far. The crowd simply loved it, dancing, singing, pushing around liked wild.
"Ain't To Proud To Beg" replaced "Dance" from Olympia. A rare one. Only played before at the Roseland show, plus Oakland. I would love to have both. "That's How Strong My Love Is" is a song every Stones fan should experience. It is just so great, and with a second ending, which Mick asked for also tonight, it was one of the highlights for me.
The introductions took forever. Because everybody was shouting "Lisa Lisa", and because everybody was shouting "Ronnie Ronnie", then "Charlie Charlie", and soon after that "Keith Keith Keith" forever. Charlie finally came front stage, but he never said anything into the microphone, like he did in Munich Krone and Paris Olympia. Keith dedicated "Nearness To You" to Lisa, and sang it just beautiful. Then Happy was swinging and rocking like always.
"I Can't Turn You Loose" was replacing "Love Train" from Olympia, and I love both. Plus with a second ending and a crowd that is dancing and singing along like crazy it has to be good.
Honky Tonk, Tumbling Dice and Brown Sugar. Songs that work best on the big stage. But I loved them tonight as well. Then to the final song that made it one of the best shows ever for me. The set list said "JJ Flash or Sympathy" I found out later. How happy I was when the stripped down Sympathy was performed. No propane. Just some sparse lighting. and the pure, fantastic "Sympathy For The Devil". I had to ask myself - am I dreaming or is this real - and indeed we got Sympathy at a club show, probably first time ever! How I loved it!
Then it was over. We screamed and clapped for another encore, but the band was already halfway back to Grand Hotel. No fireworks, just some great memories of a night that gave me all the songs I am looking for, the great drumming of Charlie, the fantastic voice of Mick, the unique riffs of Keith, and the great solo playing of Ronnie. I can't ask for more.
But when I am back at the stadium show I will get "Gimme Shelter" and "Satisfaction". That's how it works these days. You get double satisfaction!
First time I have heard it live and it was so great. Then we got Stray cat blues which I think got wrong in the beginning, Mick sang la la la for a while. Neighbours and Live with me was also great. Then Mick announced that there were going to play some soul songs and I was afraid that the magic should dissapear, soul is not my favorite music. But they started with Aint to proud to beg which I reallly liked. Worried about you sounded better than on Tattoo you even with the falsetto song. Thats how strong my love is, Everybody need somebody to love, Cant turn you loose and Thats how strong my love is was all good versions and got the audience into a lot of singing. Going to a go go is not my song.
Then it was presentations and the new Keith tune, Nearness of you, it sounded great and I liked his solo parts on the guitar. Happy good as usual but I prayed for Connection or You got the silver. Whats left? They played Tumbling dice, Honky Tonk women, Its only rocknroll, Brown Sugar. All in good versions. The encore was Sympathy for the devil. For me the greatest with this show was to be able to hear No expectations ( I had to tell a guy beside me to be quiet though, when he tried to sing the lyrics louder than Mick). Heartbreaker, Hand of fate, Live with me and Aint to proud to beg for the first time live ever or on this tour.
The concert started 21.50 and ended 1hour 55minutes later. If I got it right it was 20 songs and 9 of them have been played less than 10 times during the tour. This was my 25:th Stones concert since 1982 and maybe the greatest. But I can hardly wait on Glasgow which is next for me.
I have seen the Stones since 1975 in more than 25 shows spanning three continents. Until I saw this theatre show, I had never seen the Stones in such an extraordinary mood showing off all their mighty talents for just 1800 delirious fans. I heard nine songs tonight I have never heard before in concert (Hand of Fate, No Expectations, Worried about You, Stray Cat Blues, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Going to a Go Go, The Nearness of You, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love and That's How Strong My Love Is). I also heard one other that I had not heard since 1978 (Neighbours) and lastly, another rarely played song (Heartbreaker). There is nothing to compare such a show to in my memory.
We sat in the balcony overlooking the left side of the stage. We felt as if we could reach out and touch Mick when he sang and danced for us. I always like this vantage point more than the front of the stage because I could focus on different parts of the band at various times, which I cannot do from the front where you are blocked with arms and hands and squeezed in ever so tightly. Whether it was watching the synchronicity of Ronnie and Keith as they played the soul songs that they do very infrequently on stage, or smiling as I watched Charlie nail the snare drum with the backbeat, or just standing incredulous while Mick pulled out all his dance steps going back decades ago, I was entranced for two hours while my heroes practiced their craft.
The concert started off much like a stadium show with Start Me Up and Live with Me. But then Mick said they were going to play Neighbours. We howled. It was very, very fast, just like I remembered it. Then Hand of Fate was announced. I could feel this was going to be a special night. Ronnie nailed the solo perfectly. Then the slow numbers came. But instead of the normal Angie or Wild Horses, the techs brought out a stool and laid a slide guitar on it for Ronnie. When Mick said they were going to do No Expectations, there were squeals of approval from all around. They did it an enormous justice with precision and beauty.
Then when it finished, Mick went to the side of the stage and sat down at the piano. I knew immediately they were going to play Worried About You. I was ecstatic, for I had heard so much about when they played it in the US. Mick began it and then started singing in falsetto. When he reaches the end of the first verse and squeals "Baby!" you feel it right down in your soul, as you remember all those times you played Tattoo You. Then Ronnie and Keith start their parts in unison. By the end of the second verse, Mick jumps out from behind the piano and runs out to the front of the stage, feeding off the energy from the crowd. Then Ronnie nails another solo from the past. Finally, Mick takes over for the final time, and they play it to the end. It was simply stunning.
I could go on and on for many more pages about the way the band played tonight. For me, the way they kept pulling out new songs was the most amazing part of the night. The way that the twin cover singles, Ain't Too Proud to Beg and Going to a Go Go, brought back so many memories of the 70's and early 80's. Then we had the soul set to top off all soul sets for me. Check out the setlist. I'm sure you'll agree that it was a very special selection of songs tonight.
If I could, I wish to pass kudos to the soundboard men tonight for the way in which each of the separate instruments stood out, and we could hear the beautiful weaving by Keith and Ronnie. The encore, Sympathy for the Devil, was amazing in this regard. They also played two false endings on the song that I had never heard before.
If there is any justice in the world, there will either be a great boot of the show, or an official release that includes many of tonight's songs. They were played with such emotion, such heart and with such clarity, that I felt that nothing could ever top this for us. Some will complain no doubt that there was no Midnight Rambler, or Can't You Hear Me Knocking, or Gimme Shelter, or Jumping Jack Flash, or Satisfaction. I won't. That's what made it so special. The Stones made a statement tonight. They said to us that we are here, and so are you. We have been doing this for 40 years and this is why; listen and you too shall understand this is what matters.
I know I will never see this great band again without going back to this concert and comparing it every other show. It is the benchmark for all shows to measure up to and I'm afraid that for me, there may never be another like it. Even though Toronto, Rotterdam and London are still on the concert calendar in the next two months, I'm fearful that I might just have seen the pinnacle of my Rolling Stones concert experiences. Thanks boys!
The support act for last night were The Hellacopters, this was really one of the worst bands we had as a support act (sorry Bjornulf), I thought it was only my problem but a lot of people left for drinks, probably the only people who did like The Hellacopters were the people on the floor, first rows, as they had no other option to listen to this.
But then the band everybody came to see this night; The first 6 songs were fantastic, they were played better than in Paris, no mistakes. After No Expectations the band looked at each other and they were all really happy with this version. Worried About You is really fantastic, heard it for the second time now and its absolutely one of the best moments of the show.
Ain't To Proud To Beg was a real nice surprise. First time I heard it after heaving seen 43 Stones shows in my life. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love is a great song to keep the audience going on. Everybody was singing along and Mick knows how to play with the fans on this one.
Second highlight of the show is/was That's How Strong My Love Is. Every fan has to experience this, there are two ways to get chickenskin, a cold shower or listen to The Stones playing this song!
I Can't Turn You Loose was the 3rd (if I am not wrong) Ottis Redding song we got and it is a much better song than Love Train that we had at The Olympia in Paris. Love Train is a nice song, but better for the stadium shows to my opinion.
As encore we had Sympathy For The Devil, one of the best encores I had ever. Sympathy for The Devil at a club gig is great, is was a real nice surprice. The audience got wild for the last time again and after 2 hours of pure Rock and Roll everything was over again.
It was another great show that I will always remember. Olympia is still my favourite show but Cirkus was fantastic too!
Many thanks to the great audience, to Dirk and Annie Snapper and to a nice friend from the USA called Skippy!
For me, this whole Stockholm week with three great Rolling Stones shows was a never ending adventure that I never will forget. It all started on Friday 18 july 2003 when I decided to take my guitar and to play some Rolling Stones songs in front of the Stadion. For one of the biggest Swedish newspapers, Svenska Dagbladet, my appeareance was worth to make a story out of it and to put me (and not Mick Jagger or Keith Richards) on the front page of the Saturday-issue (i.e. the day after the Stadion concert). That was a real surprise for me. I never thought that this could happen.
Two days later I went to the indoor-concert at the Globe in Stockholm. I thought - speaking for me - that the concert at the Globe was one of my best concerts that I ever will see. But that was not true.
I do not know wheather it is possible get a better show than the Cirkus-concert. Probably, it was a present from heaven that I could be a part of "history". But what to do "through the lonely nights" on a monday night in july in Stockholm. Just wait for Tuesday and things will never be the same.
Before I finish, it has to be mentioned that even Per Gessle (the head of the Swedish band Roxette) and also Nikki Sudden came to the Cirkus to see the show. Isn´t it funny, when I saw the Rolling Stones 1995 in Prague, I bought me a Nikki Sudden CD. Nice to meet you Nikki here in Stockholm! Probably I was the only person at the Cirkus who had a Nikki Sudden CD with me. I knew he would come.
Highlights....Ain't Too Proud to Beg (first time for us since Earls Court '76), No Expectations (we had a few and they were exceeded), Hand of Fate (infinitely better version than Paris); Can't Turn You Loose (heard that on bootlegs but never live); The Nearness of You (who else could play Hoagy Carmichael like that! and better than Keith's solo version from '79 or whenever). Plus Ronnie playing as well, maybe better, than in the US in the Autumn; Keith dripping power; Charlie hard hitting; and Mick's energy.
Its the fourth "theatre" gig for me - and it rates up there as the best with the Orpheum. The Cirkus itself helped - even sitting it felt like being on the stage - no balcony just a gentle slope up. I couldn't get a ticket for the Astoria (a little ironic as I live near London) so this is the last small gig of the tour - and what a way to finish that part. I think the band has finally decided to agree with Pete Townsend - but they decided not to die so they can't get old!
The Stones started in small venues - this is the future as well. You can forget the stadiums; pay for the tour at the arenas; have the real fun in the theatres!
Now how can I get a ticket for the Astoria.......
That's How Strong My Love Is was good as always but not as HOT as at Roseland and the Cirkus Krone. Ain't Too Proud To Beg was the first time they played this song in Europe since 1976 so Stockholm got a real treat. Stray Cat Blues was weird, Mick fucked up the beginning but didn't care to correct his mistake and waited for the rest of the band to play along with what he was singing. Nice to hear Heartbreaker again, so much better than at the Olympia Halle in Munich. This was also the first time that i was up front at a club, the swedish crowd was ok though...not too much pushing so all in all a definitely enjoyable evening. The Hellacopters were really great too but unlike Bjornulf I liked the Hives better. Thank you Stockholm, thank you Rolling Stones. A few more shows on this tour and then that's it....
Thanks to Stefan Mellerborg, Björn Kassman and Joelle Bonnet for news links!
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It's Only Rock'n Roll 2003 -
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