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Roseland, NYC, September 30, 2002.
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Topic: Tower Review Return to archive
09-24-02 02:24 PM
FPM C10 Dandelion and I went to see the Rolling Stones at the Tower Theater on Sunday. I guess I should write down my observations before they evaporate. These days The Present gets sucked into the Distant Past with such startling rapidity that the show already seems long ago. And it seems that no amount of detail adds up to an adequate picture of the event.

We left for the drive down the turnpike to the City of Brotherly Love before noon - ridiculously early, but allowing for ANY unseen circumstances: I was taking no chances. Dandelion and I listened to blues tapes as we drove through the undecided weather (overcast, rain, drizzle, eventually settling upon Indian Summer). The trip was uneventful and relaxed. My downloaded driving instructions were correct and easy to follow. I was soon off the turnpike and on Rt 3 heading west. The last thing I had to look for was 69th St, and as I rounded a curve I saw that there was a big pedestrian overpass built across the street and it had "69th Street" written on it in big blue letters five feet high. The route was marked so that even I couldn't miss it! I turned right and THERE to my left was a Theater with a big Tower on it (hence the name). Above the door was the marquee - tonight ROLLING STONES sold out.

There was a crowd of people outside waiting for tickets - some of these folks ended up in the front row I hear - but we were able to go straight in a side door to retrieve our tickets from will call and trade them in for wristbands. The wristbands were blue and said "Licks". They were affixed to our right wrists by a table full of big gals who seemed happy to be so enabling.

Back on the street we immediately ran into Sugar Blue. Meeting people on the internet is so odd in a great way - I've met brother Blue once before, at a Dylan show, but I immediately recognized him and we swung directly into the easy camraderie of lifelong friends. You'd never know that the actual time we've spent together is a matter of minutes. We waited on the sidewalk, where Sugar Blue regaled us with stories of the Boston shows, enticing us with notions of a band playing "CRAZY good". Then at 6:30 the doors opened and we shuffled inside. In the lobby we scoped out the t-shirts - the new "Che" shirts are great, and have you seen the one they made just for Keno's board? It says "It's a Gas Gas Gas" on the front!

We bought a $20 program - the theater programs are small - and a $10 red and blue flashing tongue for Dandy, then made it to our seats. Sugar Blue went up to the balcony, and Dandy and I went to the Loge. The Loge section, it turned out, was just the lower lower balcony. As I sat down I immediately recognized the vantage point - we were almost exactly where my seats were for the Clash in 1980. I was somewhat removed from the action, but at the same time could take in the whole stage at once and could see the details - facial expressions, guitar models, etc. There are things about that Clash show 22 years ago that are still burned into my brain (like Joe Strummer taking off his telecaster and throwing it offstage without looking to see where it would land before "Career Opportunities") and I felt sure that parts of THIS show would accompany me to the end of my days.

NOW, however, we had the tough job of killing time. We took in the architecture. The Tower is a beautiful theater, painted teal blue, ivory and gilt, with deep red seats. The ceiling was painted to resemble an evening sky with scattered lights representing stars. Lighting created deep teal shadows in the alcoves, and the lighting onstage was violet.

We were soon back in the lobby milling around. Then back to our seats where Dandy tried to grab a few ZZZs. The tape was playing vintage soul - the original versions of "Anna" and "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues" by the great Arthur Alexander stood out - and after a long wait the lights dimmed and the opening act came out.

SOULIVE were as lame as I feared they would be when I tried to find out something about them a few weeks ago. A trio - drums, organ and guitar - that played instrumental jazz fusion, they sounded to me like a toned-down Emerson Lake and Palmer with Pat Methany playing guitar. And I DON'T mean that to sound complimentary. They sucked. Under different circumstances they would suck less, but opening for the Stones was the WRONG place for them. They did 4 or 5 long jams that all sounded alike. The only real response they got was when the drummer/spokesman asked the audience if they were ready for the Stones. When they started what they promised would be their last song, I left my seat to make it to the restroom one last time.

The antechamber to the men's room had been designated a smoking area and the air was so thick with stale smoke that non-smokers were gagging and breathing through hankies. "Jesus! Why doesn't someone smoke some DOPE?" asked one guy. So I went intro a stall and did just that.

The same before-show tape that had played Wednesday at the Vet played now. Lights were turned off a few at a time, each time eliciting cheers, but the Stones were just building tension. I knew there were quite a few more songs to go. As always, when I hear "You Need Love" by Muddy Waters, I think of Led Zepplin stealing it and having to be sued to pay Willie Dixon royalties. It isn't like they went back to the 40s or 50s to borrow a classic - this was released a few short years before Zepplin stole it note for note.

I took in details - Woody's ESP B-Bender and the Zemeitis Les Paul were the only two guitars onstage. I could see guitar techs carrying guitars over their heads backstage - there was a Les Paul (Mick Taylor's?? Nope - just Blondie's goldtop) and the Coral electric sitar. Mick's coat rack had only three pieces hanging on it - a truly stripped-down affair! Darryl's Fender jazz bass was put on a stand.

We smiled at the reference to "Steel Drivin' Hammer" in "Let It Rock". I thought about how the SOUND of Bo Diddley's Chess releases makes me imagine hiding in the woods at night and overhearing a voodoo ritual going on in the next holler. And how the Stones obviously heard that too, way back when, and incorporated it into their own hoodoo. The sound of "Mona" was really causing gooseflesh because I knew the tape was almost over. The people next to us got up to leave and I said "They're going to be out in 2 minutes." They'd started in the middle of the song AFTER "Mona" at the Vet, but tension continued to build as THAT song ended and another started. Then, FINALLY, it was time.

I don't even remember exactly HOW they came out - just that suddenly Keith was slashing out Jumpin' Jack Flash, and that it was the BEST version I've heard out of the 18 times I've heard it played. The next songs - "You Got Me Rockin'" and "Sad Sad Sad" - were NOT songs ANYONE was holding their breath to hear in a theater, but they were the BEST versions of these mediocre songs you can IMAGINE, and didn't dampen my enthusiasm. In fact, the guitar break Woody did (on the black Zem with the round pickguard/resonator) in "YGMR" was the first of many moments that made my head feel like it might explode from joy. It was obvious, for one thing, that everything we've suspected, believed fervently, and KNOWN to be true about this band's stature and status - World's Greatest - is an absolute Verity, a Truth carved in Stone. All of the support musicians were shining, and in fact everyone - even the trombone player - got a solo during the night, but the weight was being carried by the four Stones, and there was just no comparing it to anything I'd ever seen before.

If glory must be divided up the show belonged to Mick Jagger, the greatest showman of all time, but it ALSO belonged to Ron Wood, who shut all naysayers up for good. Keith's two songs were so great they nearly brought tears to my eyes. and Charlie... the greatness of the night belonged to ALL of them. I don't have a setlist in front of me, but it gradually became obvious that a "theme" for the show was "FANCE", the accidental jumbling of Funk and Dance invented by Skippy at the '97 press conference. "Hot Stuff", with a superb trumpet solo and outrageous horn charts, "Going to a Go Go", "Love Train" (If they'd release THIS as a single it would go to #1) - the balcony heaved gently as all bodies swayed involuntarily.


1. Lisa wasn't there. I didn't miss her.
2. And there was nothing in the setlist that made me say "Wait'll I tell the guys I heard THIS". The rarity was "No Expectations", absolutely gorgeous and perfect, but I'd seen them do it in Atlanta in '97. But the greatness of "Heart of Stone", "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", "Hand of Fate" (WOODY!!) "Stray Cat Blues" (the Beggars Banquet version, feral and fierce, with a bass solo from Darryl that fit perfectly) and the incomparable "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" - all songs I'd never heard them play - were all so much better than I can ever hope to explain to anyone who wasn't there.

After that it was back to the hits - HTW, SMU, Brown Sugar, and the encore, Tumbling Dice - again, the best versions I've ever heard.

The worst thing about the show - it's OVER!

I waited seemingly FOREVER for this show to arrive. I half expected it to be the be-all and end-all, that when it was done I'd say, "well now I never have to go see anyone ever again". It was NOT that. It COULD have been better. But it was the best thing I've ever seen, and all of you holding tickets for Roseland or The Wiltern or any other theater shows can smile with a degree of smugness, knowing with certainty that you are going to see something which cannot be bested. At the moment they hit the stage, you can rest assured that there is NO PLACE IN THE WORLD that could possibly be better.
09-24-02 03:09 PM
Sir Stonesalot Wow.

What did you do, transcribe our phone conversation?! LOL!

I am all atwitter for all of you lucky folk who have been to the theatre shows so far.....

Heh heh heh...Moonie & me are next.

I am so stoked.

2 days to MSG.

Everyone travel safe, and I'll let you buy me vodka & tonics at YOTI!
09-24-02 03:16 PM
jb How much are the drinks in New York a nice restarant down here, a bar brand will run you about 8.00dollars...
09-24-02 03:17 PM
Nasty Habits
FPM C10 wrote:

The worst thing about the show - it's OVER!

God, I know it. I am still insanely exhausted from my week of Stones madness, but I have a "Tower glow" that is actually making me not want to kill the various greedy assholes who are coming into the record store today trying to get "top dollar" for their non-collectible old scratched up vinyl.

And you know what came into the store today? A copy of the O-Jay's Backstabbers, the record with their version of Love Train on it! I've sold dozens over the years, but it's getting harder and harder to find - I thought it would take a while before I'd be able to scoop one up post-Stones. But the Lord is kind, and all things are connected, and I've been playing Love Train all morning long. I agree that the Stones should release a live version of it, to the radio if nothing else. I think it would be a huge hit. The Stones' version has just that right, airy lilt to it, and the song is dying for a comeback. GO STONES - GRAB SOME AIR!

09-24-02 03:30 PM
jb Lost Password?

NovoCode is ON
NovoCode Image Code is ON
Smilies are ON
What the hell is this?

[Edited by jb]
09-24-02 03:44 PM
Maxlugar I too, quite honestly, am atwitter.

09-24-02 03:46 PM
jb wrote:
Lost Password?

NovoCode is ON
NovoCode Image Code is ON
Smilies are ON
What the hell is this?

[Edited by jb]

just log in with your password ore go to where you changed your avatar, and everything will be ok then
09-24-02 04:16 PM
jb Moon, why is my avatar so foggy?
09-24-02 04:51 PM
Moonisup that will be the quality of the photo ore the decompressing it, to this format has taken it's toll
09-24-02 05:16 PM
Joey Fleabit ................

This has got to be one of the finest reviews that I have ever had the distinct pleasure of reading.

Your words are an insistent entity that flow over me like molasses dripping along metal tiles and I must admit , my arteries have become quite engorged and my capillaries floweth open like never before ..................I thank you !!!!!!

What remarkable writing skills you have ---- prodigious sentence structures , lucid paragraphical analyses and a frothy effervescent vocabulary . Yes indeedy , as I read your manuscript , I mentally sit at your feet with wide eyes listening to your Stonesian expoundings -- your attention to detail vital , coherent and unparalled in this orb .

Fleabit , your life affirming , fluid , eyeball caressing , soul lifting , precision note launching , liquid , magically stonesilicious analysis is much appreciated by all of us -- you are a Plutarch ( or perhaps Suetonius ) for our times -- uniquely mesmerizing and compelling .

I salute you my brother....and I thank you !

Joey , C10

09-24-02 06:02 PM
Riffhard FPM that is truly the difinitive review that I have read thus far concerning the tour.It did for me what all great reveiws do.It made me curse you out loud.I was screeming at you through my monitor.Did you hear me?

A recap then-"Flea Bit Motherfucking Peanut Monkey!Goddamned you lucky son of a bitch!!Why the F@#K could I not have been there!?!?!Why the F@$K did you get to go and not me?!Well that's it you F%$KING ASSH@$E!The gloves are off now!I'm going to beg,borrow,cheat,steal;,and yes,even kill to go Roseland!!Thanks for rubbing it in SH%THEAD!!!Oh,I guess you think your soooo special now!You just love holding your F@#KING Tower show over everyone's head don't you?!Well F&%K that!I don't need to hear any more of your "ain't I special" BULLSH#T!"

It went somthing like that.But for real though.That was a great reveiw.I'm glad to hear you and Dandy had such a blast!You guys are going to be at the YOTI right?I look forward to drinking some pints with you again!

Two more way too long days MFers!!

09-24-02 08:52 PM
TheSavageYoungXyzzy Great review! Thanks a lot!

Dear God, if all these great reviews come in, I may start selling pens on the street to get to as many shows as I can...

-tSYX --- Pretty beat up...
09-25-02 08:24 AM
Maxlugar Fleabit, that was an incredible review. Not much else to say. Simply beautiful.

Josh, I love your new Avatar. Are you from Iran or Pakistan. I can see your Persian lineage better here than in your other Avatar.

I'm sorry about all that "Towel Head" stuff I wrote a few weeks ago. I didn't know.

You must have married a nice light skinned caucasion as your kids look like normal white people.

09-25-02 02:17 PM
Nasty Habits FPM wrote:

"The antechamber to the men's room had been designated a smoking area and the air was so thick with stale smoke that non-smokers were gagging and breathing through hankies. "Jesus! Why doesn't someone smoke some DOPE?" asked one guy. So I went into a stall and did just that."

You went into a stall? I was hopeful at first that I'd unknowingly cadged some of your dope off'n ya because we were obviously both skipping Soul Live to do something productive. Most of us dope smokers were just hiding behind a post in the antechamber, keeping halfassed lookout. I still have a roach blister on my left thumb. I hope it never pops! My Tower blister, how lovely you are!

HEY MAX! Did you know that they are selling exact repros of the 1975 tour shirts, with the jet fighting eagle and everything? Black "ringers" and two sides! I am wearing mine for the second day straight and will wear it until my wife forceably removes it from my body!

09-26-02 04:33 AM
~AzQb know, man, you made my fucking NIGHT ; )

~RoTfL in CrazedAnticipation
09-26-02 07:21 AM
Maxlugar Nasty,

I will look for it!

I NEED one, ya know?