It's Only Rock'n Roll
We had a fleeting thought earlier today. Wouldn't the line in She Was Hot about the cold Chicago night be appropriate. But we thought there was no way the Stones would do something that they have never done before. But they did it and did they ever nail that one. How many others are there like this waiting to be born and enter into the world of the live version.
What a show tonight in Chicago. The crowd stayed warm by dancing and singing all night. Nobody sat down at all in our section, nor anywhere else that we could see. You Got Me Rocking was wonderful as an opener. You Got Me Rocking had fists pumping in the air everywhere. Live With Me and Monkey Man continued the momentum. Mick asked the crowd who was there the last time they did Soldier Field and said that they would change it up from that show. Then we get Sway. Beautiful. Ronnie was very strong on the guitar and a strong vocal from Mick. Far better than the version we saw in Columbus last year.
Then Streets of Love. A real crowd pleaser. Is it the heavy rotation of the of the video on VHI Classic. Song sounds great live. Then the ultimate live song, Midnight Rambler. No dissapointed fans here. A lot of crowd participation. Excellent version of You Got the Silver from Keith without his guitar -- very well sung. Nice work Ronnie. Under My Thumb was a great way to bridge to the center stage. Overall, what a show for Chicago. Thank you Rolling Stones for another visit. Hope to see you again soon, even if it is a cold Chicago night.
Sidenote: We caught the show at Fitgzeralds last night with Nicholas Tremulis and Blondie Chaplan. Both of these guys put out some great solo material and you would think that they have been playing with each other for years if you were at the show. Don't hesitate to give it a listen.
|What at night! Cold, Windy, from start to finish. Elvis Costello played in the worst of the Wind storm while later the Stones got the frigid tempertures. 4 Heaters on the stage couldn't have help much on a very cold night but the Stones gave it their best and put on awesome show. Mick was simply great and his energy carried the band for the the first half while the Keith and Ronnie get better with each layer of clothing they added as the night went on. The concert was really rocking after the band played the second stage and the crowd got a good look at the band as the moving stage moved the band back to the main stage. The crowd loved it as Mick joked how when the band booked this date they thought they were going to have a Indian Summer Show and it turned out to be a Bear Summer. Mick refused to let the bitter cold slow him down and put on one the best performances ever. Keith needed a little more time to adjust to the cold but played a great show. I give the Stones all the credit in the world for thanking the fans for coming out on a terribly cold night. The Stones didn't let anyone down and had a great show.|
I may not have the words completely accurate, but early in the show at Soldier Field Mick said, “Thank you for coming out on what’s a horrible fucking freezing night. You guys are my heroes”. As I layered on 3 coats and long underwear (the only other show I wore long underwear at was Ames, Iowa in 1989), I wondered for a millisecond if it was all worth it. When Keith kicked into You Got Me Rocking, it was clear it would be all worth it. This would be a different night, with cold temperatures keeping any marginal fans at home. It was around 36 degrees at show time, with wind chill in the low 20s. You Got Me Rocking was a great choice for an opener. Why do we read protests any time this song is played? It is streamlined rock and roll at its most efficient, has great audience participation, and a brilliant Keith solo. Because it is not from the lates 60s or early 70s it is automatically trite or cliché? Just because we were blessed with this song in 1994 does not diminish it. The clarion chords to start are unmistakable, and seemed to get this die-hard cold weather audience pumped up like no other song could.
While the crowd was small (Soldier Field was little more than half full, with large tongue banners pulled over empty seats that could have been sold), the cold weather was a great excuse for low attendance. The fact is, it could have been 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the place would not have been much more full. This prior weekend FoxNews Chicago had reported ticket sales were unusually slow, with only 26,000 seats (capacity for the concert around 55,000?) sold as of 4 days before the show. Maybe that’s what happens as this was the band’s 9th show in Chicago in a little over 4 years, the housing market is down and that home equity spending money has dried up, and they are still asking $450 for the best seats. But the light attendance and crap weather did not matter: everyone there was completely prepared, heavy coats and a mind set as if they were going to a football game (American football, played in cold weather and extreme climatic conditions). While the crowd was smaller than any ever at Soldier Field, through many shows, expensive tickets, and nightmare weather, this crowd was boiled down to hard core Stones fans and those there were ready to rock. The Rolling Stones seemed to understand this completely, realizing what a unique night this was, and pushed extra hard to make this show excellent. The wind off Lake Michigan was harsh, making special stage effects unneeded. When Mick stepped to the edge of the stage or on the side walkways, his long coat was taken by the wind to dramatic effect. Mick did the whole show in fedora, it was that cold. Early it was fun to see Keith struggle with his cap, the strong wind about to blow it off, until Keith took charge and pulled the skull symboled cap down hard so it was just above his eyes. Ronnie had a big scarf but seemed to be freezing still. Someone should recommend a hat for him: they help more than anything else in cold temperatures. This was my 109th Stones show, and the cold temps and ½ full Soldier Field made it absolutely unique. It was more lovable than any I have seen in 2006, except for the Radio City Music Hall show.
For the first time ever live, the Stones played She Was Hot from 1983’s Undercover album. She Was Hot was the absolute highlight of the night, or maybe of this entire tour. It was not at all tentative like sometimes when you witness the early exploration of a song by the band. Mick delivered lines cleanly (there was a teleprompter but it was surprising to me how little he used it) and Keith’s Chuck Berry-like guitar solo was insanely great. More than any show this year (except for Radio City), Keith’s playing was at that level of extra quality. It seemed he could not touch his guitar without it ringing like a bell, and the solo on She Was Hot was the prime showcase for this evening of better-than-usual Keith playing. It speaks volumes about this show in that the excellent version of Sway that was played seemed more in keeping with seldom played—yet still played—favorites like Monkey Man or Live With Me, apart from a mind blower like She Was Hot with the studio lyrics about a “cold Chicago night” connecting through the howling Lake Michigan wind.
After She Was Hot, the most memorable moment of the evening was during the extra bluesy Midnight Rambler with Mick howling the “Oh Yeah!”s, this time prefaced so it was “Muddy Waters says, Oh Yeah”. Any other time Mick has done that part of the song, the Oh Yeah has clearly been a Muddy Waters reference, but it was a total thrill to hear him acknowledge Muddy Waters in the song, and in Chicago, home of the blues.
While the set list was just 18 songs, it didn’t seem to matter. During his two songs Keith was very aware of the difficult conditions and kept his talking to a minimum, telling the crowd “I won’t keep you long”. This was one of the most memorable Stones shows I have ever attended. The disappointing ticket sales, the terrible weather, all could have been big downers. A cancellation of the show could have been easily justified. Instead, the Rolling Stones seized the unique conditions, played great, and threw in surprises to make this show absolutely special. After the show as fans trudged north toward Chicago’s downtown, I heard nothing but amazement expressed by those who attended.
Maybe the crowd seemed like heroes to Mick, but there is no better lesson you can learn than from these guys on a night like this: there was every reason for this show to be bad, or not take place at all, but the Stones seized the right aspects and turned it into a completely upbeat entertainment high for all in attendance. That is why they are my heroes.
Keith’s set was extremely good, his voice is getting better, musta been that bump on his head, (only kiddin’, practice makes perfect), miss the ol’ geetar though on “You Got The Silver.”
Rough Justice “Start Me Up,” good as always, (continued to keep us warm), “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Jumping Jack Flash ,” and then a bit different intro into “Satisfaction,” was a nice change. Brown Sugar (encore) topped off the excellent evening.
Missed the new one “Oh No, Not You Again.”
Hope to hear LOVE IS STRONG, MEMORY MOTEL, SHE’S SO COLD, YOU DON’T HAVE To MEAN IT and THE WORST this tour too, either in Glendale, AZ; Vegas, or LA.
Hey Hey You Got Me Rockin and the breezy Chicago show was on its way. After making a reference to the cold
and labeling us fans as hero's the boys rocked out some songs not played on the last show at Solder Field including Live with Me and a generous Monkey Man - what a treat!
Even before the concert started the Stones had made some improvements over the last Solder show by not selling the upper deck (400 level) tickets, which had my friends calling for my head. Midnight Rambler rocked the place to life, even though it seemed the wind was taking Mick's words or the sound system was spooked, the place warmed up.
Tumblin Dice was played to the "T" and Mick losing his Jacket was a crowd pleaser. After saying the "Indian summer was not in Chicago but we did have the Bears" the band got a rousing applause. Keith jammed You Got The Silver but struggled to put the correct words in place during Little T & A. Keith looked to really be fighting his way through the cold - and the trip on the movable stage must not have helped. Mick showed his bias and played Rough Justice and danced like it was 70 out through it all. An ever charming Start Me Up got the place rocking again.
Hearing Satisfaction before the encore increased my anticipation for a unique encore to follow. Brown Sugar was the only song we got in that encore but it left us all satisfied.
It was a touch (however small) of Stones history to have You Got Me Rocking open the show for the first time ever. Just like when they open with Brown Sugar or something other than the usual, YGMR was more compact and to the point. I love the studio version but have never caught onto it live, but this was one of the better live versions.
Live With Me works well in the 2nd spot, although the sound (at least from my vantage point) was still not cleaned up and the guitar layer was muddy, but the performance was right on.
Monkey Man had more of a funky beat, and was a major major improvement over the way they did it on the Licks tour. While still a notch below the great version on the VL tour with Lisa's part, this was a solid version, and a revised ending (from the Licks version) helped it finish with a Bang, so to speak. Another plus.
Next came Sway. It's obvious that doing Sway on a more consistent basis is showing, as there is no longer that degree of uncertainty as to how it will turn out. Ronnie did a tremendous job on the solo. In fact, for my 12th show of this tour, this was the best I have seen Ronnie perform throughout the entire show. He made Sway a notch better this time.
And then came those words that we like to hear from Mick...."We're gonna do one we've never done before.....". And there was She Was Hot!!!!!!! I had joked before the show that the Stones just might debut it, since when they last played Soldier Field in September '05, it was a hot night and they did "She's So Cold", so on this frigid night they would do She Was Hot. And it was a HOT HOT HOT version. If Mick hadn't told the crowd it was their first time doing it, no one would have believed him. They must have been doing this in sound checks for weeks. It came off really well, and a great version. Sometimes the Stones can be a bit tentative on a live debut, but this one came across like one of the hits. I hope this sticks in the set list!
Streets of Love totally shines through. The studio version is left in the dust after the way Mick brings this one to life. Charlie added a lot when he picked up the pace toward the end, and Mick took it and rode with it. Turned it into a rockin' blues song, kind of like the last part of Fool To Cry, and it worked just great!
Next came Rambler!! Interesting start, as Charlie did what amounted to about a 20 second drum solo that seemed ad-libbed. I've never seen (or heard) that before. Granted, it may have been to keep his hands warm, but it was a nice new intro. Mick was all over the stage for the first part. When it came to the slow part in the middle, Mick made 2 references to Muddy Waters, and Keith played the slow part on guitar with just a touch of Mannish Boy. That makes this version of Rambler unique from any other. A great addition to this "only in Chicago" show. Probably about a 12 minute version, although it was too cold to look at my watch and time it.
At this point, the Stones could have taken their bows and left, and I'd still have been raving about how great this show "was". But there was more.....
Dice seemed a letdown after what we had already gotten, but the sound mix, which wasn't right all night, reduced the horn section way down to the point where I could barely tell they were there. For Dice, this worked, as we could hear the guitars. Made it sound like one of the better versions, even if that wasn't the intent.
The Keith set was short and to the point. Keith raced up to the microphone and in one sentence said "I won't keep you it's freezing out here You Got The Silver" and started right in. Again, a great version. No guitar playing, just concentrating on the vocals and not oversinging or raspy. Another masterpiece.
However, Little T & A was, quite frankly, weak. Keith was passed up by the band, off on his timing for the vocals, forgot words, and changed it around while the band played on.
Next came Under My Thumb headed to the b-stage. My first time getting Thumb on this tour, and my first time seeing it since the Soldier Field opener of B2B in 1997. The disappointing reggae style version of the past few years has gone. This time it was more of a rocking version, and the instrumental part added a lot to the song. Mick seemed to be much more into it, especially when setting foot on the b-stage and finished it strong. He had the crowd under his thumb again.
The reason I haven't enjoyed Rough Justice that much on the tour has been because of Mick doing it solo. Finally, this time around, even though it was on the b-stage, Bernard was doing the backing vocals along with Mick at the necessary parts (from wherever else he was), and it added strongly. Best live version I've seen or heard. It looks like RJ will stick on future tours (just as YGMR has stuck since VL), and if they do it like this, it will work.
HTW and Sympathy were as usual. Jumpin' Jack Flash got off to a ragged start but picked up toward the end.
Satisfaction was rocking hard. One minor change is toward then end when the back-ups would do the "Satisfac-TION!!" part. This time, they all did "Satisfaction - ya!", so this was planned to do the slight change. Not a big deal, but the effort was there to make a slight change for those of us seeing it for the millionth time.
True to form with a far below capacity crowd (not to mention the cold temperature), we got 1 less song and the 1 song encore of Brown Sugar.
The Stones were on and totally up when they needed to be. This is probably my last show of this tour. What a great way to go.....
It was great to see their reactions to the cold. When Mick went to talk to the crowd the biting cold wind would pick up and he would just pause until it settled down and laugh. Twice Keith stopped playing guitar to cup his hands and blow on them. He'd look at the crowd,shrug his shoulders and laugh. All in all a memorable night in the WINDY city!
When I was 12 years old I went to summer camp as usual, but that particular year my best friend Vera and I attained Cool Girl status when word got 'round that we had tickets to see The Beatles at the Gardens in Cincinnati at summer's end. For a whopping $5.50 apiece, we held the highest priced tickets money could buy. As the day drew near our preparation reached a feverish pitch: New dress, new haircut, and countless rehearsals for what we'd say when we were plucked from the crowd and escorted backstage to meet our future husbands. We were freaking Beatlemaniacs in the Age of Innocence, cranking out rhapsodic fantasies while we practiced our future signatures: "Pamela McCartney.” Vera Jean Harrison."
It was August 27, 1964. The Beatles were on their first American Tour. I was there. It was a moment in time that cannot be described to my satisfaction. Ten months earlier we were told President Kennedy had been shot and we hugged each other, sobbing in our classroom. Tonight we hugged each other sobbing while our beloved Beatles sang, "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you, tomorrow I'll miss you..." They closed the show with Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," ran off the stage and jumped into a limousine. Vera's Dad was waiting for us outside when the limo driver came speeding out of the tunnel and ran over his foot. It was the closest he'd come to becoming George Harrison's father-in-law and somehow, it was enough.
Maybe you’re wondering why I’m telling you about that. I’ll get to it.
Now, zoom forward, four decades plus.
Last night at Soldier Field it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero - 0 - degrees C) ; "The Hawk," what Chicagoans call the ear-stinging bitter wind that blows off Lake Michigan was gusting at a good clip into the stadium, the Lake a mere Hail Mary pass away. The forecast said the rain and drizzle we'd had off and on all day would continue - and that snow would surely follow. Oh, dear.
Assuming Woody Allen's claim is true that "80% of success is showing up," then those of us who did show up last night at Soldier Field knew with certitude we'd eventually be "dancing in the End Zone," come hell or high water. Frozen high water, that is. But when the lights went out you could see the threatening sky had all but cleared, save a few puffy pink clouds lingering politely on the perimeter, probably hoping for a glimpse of the show. Shivering with excited anticipation in our respective huddles, we'd willed that beast away. Powerful stuff.
And then, just a few days shy of his 42nd wedding anniversary, Charlie Watts, an impresario of rhythm and timing, set the meter, Keith and Ronnie struck the tone, and Mick, with the joyful abandon of a carefree colt began to deliver the collective heart, soul and pulse of arguably the greatest rock'n'roll band of all time. "You Got Me Rocking" rocked, rolled and juiced the crowd. Like a trusting friend, Mick spoke to us matter of factly: The conditions were dreadful. A little later he crowed, "I can't feel my feet." By making us laugh he was mocking the elements. By stating the obvious he took away its power; just like that, he’d leveled the playing field. He offered warm and genuine words of appreciation to the audience, we reciprocated back at ya' boys, and by then the esprit de corps was palatable.
Being in Soldier Field, the metaphors were self-evident. A quarterback of sorts, Mr. Jagger began to execute the antecedent of walking on hot coals. He skipped, he ran, he pranced, he swayed, he wiggled, he strutted, and his vocals were impossibly balmy, like a man singing in the shower. The mark of a professional, he held himself accountable and infected the band. For two hours no one in the stadium took a seat, everyone danced, and it might as well have been a barefoot affair in July at Grant Park. I was positively toasty.
Ronnie's guitar was sure and true, with thoughtful slide and a bit of mischief. Not a mover and shaker, he needed that 6 foot aqua cable-knit scarf wrapped around his neck; a fetching pair of baby blue Uggs on his feet had to be the envy of every musician up there. The coat came on and off. He commiserated with Keith, and they powered through the cold.
Usually associated with his animated and flamboyant stage antics, Mick stopped moving to deliver the slower "Streets of Love," which took my breath away.
"Midnight Rambler" was a moonless thrill ride on a curvy back road, with detours and surprises that packed a wallop. The crowd screamed at every turn. Mick's harp steered us into the Mississippi Delta and back again. I was enthralled by song's end and screaming, “Do it again, Daddy!”
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. There are no words.
Keith's voice was sublime. His set was a highlight for me; “You Got The Silver” – oh my. My husband later remarked that Keith seems humbled by the grace he's experienced in his personal life, and by the appreciation shown to him in his public life. I agree. His physical exterior is a roadmap where every line tells a story, but his eyes emit the gentle softness you usually associate with children. His is a soul whose waters run deep. From the 8th row it was inescapable.
The set was fabulous, the graphics, special effects and fireworks were in perfect proportion. This is a band that knows who they are, needs no "filler," no fluff, doesn't have to inject effects, volume or distractions to compensate for lackluster talent. And for a band that has been doing this for more than 40 years, it was fresh, with new variations and memorable guitar licks from Keith, a performance from Mick that dropped the jaws of thousands at every turn, not the least of which was during his inspired delivery of Sympathy for the Devil.
This morning I called my oldest friend Suzanne, who incidentally named her son Watts in 1990 after Charlie. A world class Stones fan, she would want to hear about last night’s event at Soldier Field.
“I saw the Rolling Stones last night. Can you believe it? It took 42 years for me to finally see the other greatest band the UK ever produced.”
Boy, did we have a lot to talk about.
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Thanks to Jim Pietryga and Michael Pordes for great photos!