When people call the Rolling Stones the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, it isn’t too far from the truth. These guys have been perfecting their craft for the better part of 40 years and it shows. Last night at the First Union Center, the Stones put on a high-energy performance for a solid 2 hours. They went on around 9:45 and wrapped things up around 11:45. Not bad for a bunch of 60 year olds. Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger were the most mobile of the group, running too and fro and working the audience. Lisa Fischer, the band’s female backing singer, also sauntered and pranced about the stage working the audience and teasing the members of the band. Back at his drum kit, Charlie Watts was on top of his game as he played in a rather relaxed fashion rather than the flailing about normally exhibited by rock drummers. All the while Keith Richards weaved his way about the stage, holding things together with his rhythm playing. Everyone in the band seemed to be in high spirits last night, and would frequently talk to one another during and in between songs.
Street Fighting Man: Cool way to open a show. It just has that opening song vibe to it. The mix was a little loud at first, but that can be blamed on the boomy sound of the FU Center (awful acoustics). This song had Blondie Chaplin playing acoustic guitar while hidden behind Chuck's amps.
It's Only Rock And Roll: Never really been too fond of this song, but found myself enjoying it nonetheless. It had the typical live arrangement with the Chuck Berryesque intro. You could tell the band was tight tonight. Even the old warhorses were given energetic workouts. The audience was really into this one.
If You Can't Rock Me: Nice to see they dusted off this gem from the It's Only Rock And Roll album. Much better performance than the versions I've heard from '75. The band seemed to be having a blast playing this one, but it took some time for the audience to catch on.
Don't Stop: The new song in the set. This being the first time I've heard it, it gives me an Exile On Main Street/Voodoo Lounge feel. Much better than most of the crap from Bridges To Babylon. Still, while it is a nice song, it's nothing to write home about when taken in the context of the band's catalogue. Mick played some guitar on this one and the performance was solid. The audience was accepting.
All Down The Line: Absolutely smoking version of this song. The band rocked and boogied their way through, and the audience loved it. It was a pleasant surprise to hear this one.
Theme Set: Well, given my seats, I had no clue that the cover to Let It Bleed was showing on the big screen, so when Mick said " We're going to play some songs from our Let It Bleed album." I was surprised and ecstatic. I was hoping for a Let It Bleed set, but was unsure if it would happen as they did four songs the night before. A lap steel guitar was brought out for Ronnie, as Keith took up an acoustic guitar. From there we were off to...
Love In Vain: Amazing version of the song. Mick sang the blues and Ronnie played an amazing solo. What more can be said?
Live With Me: The band then kicked things back into overdrive with a rocking version of Live With Me. Mick was really getting into this one, dancing, shouting, and all around working the audience. One of the horn players (was it Bobby Keys), whom I couldn't see, had a killer solo. While the delivery wasn't as raunchy as on the album, it was still a fun song.
Monkey Man: Chuck and Darryl lead things off on this one. I was surprised by how big of an audience reaction this song had. A very solid version with Chuck delivering some nice key work over the bridge.
Gimme Shelter: Monkey Man and Gimme Shelter back to back, that there is an amazing 1, 2 punch. Easily my favorite Stones tune, I was hoping to hear it, but didn't think it would happen as it was only being played at the stadium gigs. Great version of it too. Lisa did an amazing job with the vocals. Mick was really getting into the song at the end too. This song saw Blondie playing his acoustic out in view, rather than hidden.
Tumbling Dice: A solid version of another old warhorse. Although for some reason the band paused early in the song. Keith had a look of "What the f___?" on his face. They recovered real quick though. This was the first time Mick ran out on the catwalk between stages. The band and audience seemed to enjoy this one.
After Tumbling Dice, Mick began to introduce the band. When he came to Ronnie, he introduced him as being "On the cigarette." Ronnie gave a "Who, me?" expression and then ran to the front of the stage. He really seemed to be on top of the world last night. His newfound sobriety may have a bit to play in his jovial state and phenomenal performances. After the intro's, it was time for Keith to do his thing. He was greeted by the audience roaring his name.
Slipping Away: There were times on this one that Keith almost sounded like Dylan. It's a great ballad, but it lost a lot of people. I would have preferred Before They Make Me Run or, if a ballad was in order, You Got The Silver. Still, a very solid performance.
Happy: What a fun song. Keith was full of smiles on this one. The audience too started to rebound. Again, Ronnie played the lap steel to great affect. It's nice to see Keith brought this one back after it's hiatus on the last big tour ('97-'99).
Can't Turn You Loose: As Keith was thanking the audience at the end of Happy, Mick came back up to the stage and hid behind a stack of amps. Then as the band kicked into a fiery version of this Otis Redding classic, he ran out to the center of the stage. I never heard Otis' version, but the Stones version was hot. The audience was very receptive as well.
Start Me Up: Keith teased the audience with one or two licks of the song before launching into it. The audience went ape for this song. As the show was winding down, it was time for the big hits, and the band delivered. It seemed like the whole band was having fun with this one.
Honkey Tonk Women: Another showstopper that sent the audience through the roof. A very solid version.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking: Why has it taken 31 years for the Stones to play this song live? It was simply amazing. After the straight up rock of the first half of the song, the band loosened up for an amazing jam. Keith and Darryl held down the rhythm and Charlie threw in some nice fills as Chuck and Bobby (?) took nice solos. Then Mick came to the front of the stage and blew some harp. Finally Ronnie took an amazing solo to wrap the song up. Simply amazing. The audience seemed to lose the plot on this one. It's a shame too, since it isn't often the Stones open things up this way. Maybe they should have played it before Start Me Up, as to keep the show's momentum from being interrupted.
Satisfaction: Anyone that lost interest during Can't You Hear Me Knocking got back into the game here. A smoking version that had some great fills by Charlie. Needless to say, the audience loved the song. At the end of the song, Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Chuck, Charlie, and Darryl made their way out to the second stage.
Beast of Burden: This was a surprising opener for the second stage. I've always liked this tune. I was expecting I'm A Man, or some other blues cover instead (as was par for the course). Beast of Burden probably went over better with the audience though.
Miss You: This one featured a stripped down arrangement as compared to the Voodoo Lounge and Bridges To Babylon version. No horns, no vocal duels, just the Stones delivering a solid version of Miss You. It reminded me of the '78 version. Mick played guitar and harp. While never a personal favorite, the audience ate this one up. It would have been nice to hear Neighbors or You Got Me Rocking here instead.
Brown Sugar: The band wrapped things up with a tight, high-energy fashion. Bobby Keys (whom I could finally see) came up on stage for a killer sax solo. A smoking version, and great way to wrap up the set. By the end of the song, the audience was at a fever pitch, and the band strolled off the second stage, into the crowd, and then back to the locker/dressing rooms.
The encore break was a short one. It lasted about as long as it took for the band to walk back down to the main stage. The audience was pretty rabid at this time, and then the backing tape for Sympathy For The Devil started. The band returned to the stage, and we were off.
Sympathy For The Devil: Mick was dressed all in black, which was an interesting contrast to the all white outfit worn during I Can’t Turn You Loose. Instead of a white hat though, he had a black hood on. How fitting. There were tons of red lights flashing during this tune. Keith and Ronnie were firing off some killer licks throughout the song. The outtro was extended and it seemed like the whole band was having a blast with it. The jam on the end just kept building, until everyone froze and that ended the Symphony.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash: The big show stopper. The audience was still on fire as Keith took the band into Jumpin’ Jack Flash. The lighting rigs pretty much lit up the whole arena as fans blew confetti all over the place. The song was a high energy ending to an amazing show. The band then gathered at the front of the stage and took a collective bow. Then they started to walk away, but Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie all came back to the center of the stage for another group bow. As they were leaving the stage, Charlie went back to his kit and grabbed two sticks to give to two people up front. Shortly after he left the stage, the house lights went up, and that was a wrap.
A big thanks goes to Mr. Burns for hooking me up with the primo seats. Next up, Gov’t Mule at the Electric Factory.
||Great review, thanks for sharing it
||Very nice.Sounded incredible!
||.......yes. awesome review. who could you lose interest during "knocking" though!