Giants Stadium, September 28, 2002:
For any of those who might think The Rolling Stones are old has beens, you are dead wrong!! The Stones played Giants Stadium, here in New Jersey, with all the fire and excitement of our collective youth of yesteryear. Having been in attendance at the historic Ya-Ya’s concert of November 1969, at Madison Square Garden, I can easily say their musicianship, content and delivery has not suffered, in the least bit, over these several decades. This is my seventh Stones concert, and I can easily distinguish the good from the bad.
After the terrible experience of attempting to get any ticket at all and the extremely poor and insulting way that Sam Goody was allowed to handle the up-front ticket sales, I desperately needed to be convinced in a huge way, that the extreme hassle and extraordinary cost, made it a worthwhile endeavor at all. I can tell you unequivocally, The Stones performance made all the bad go far, far away.
After a great set from The Pretenders, featuring Chrissie Hynde, and a long intermission, The Stones hit the stage at 9:37 P.M. They break right into the big hits category with, “Brown Sugar.” I have come to this show with my sister Jessica, with whom I have attended all previous Rolling Stones shows, and my wife Kathy who is coming for the very first time. Kathy wanted to hear “Brown Sugar” and she is all done on the first song selection. The band is solid and the musical delivery is hot from the very start. Mick is wearing a long white silk coat, a scarf (a throw back to Ya-Ya’s), a pink T-shirt and what appeared to be a silver metal bangles belt. The crowd is immediately brought to a high level of intensity. Song number two is, “It’s Only Rock & Roll.” This is an excellent version of this one. The next song is, “Start Me Up.” The crowd is up to fever pitch and everyone is rockin’. Song four, “Don’t Stop,” is (I believe) the only new song of the night. It is presented very well and there is no lag in our emotions. At four minutes of ten, The Stones play, “Tumblin’ Dice.” The full brass section of two saxophones, trumpet and trombone, led by long-time Stones sideman Bobby Keys, is fully utilized. The trio of backup singers, led by long time backup vocalist Lisa Fisher, is just humming away at their respective harmonic capacity.
Song six is a song I have not heard much live. The song is the self-titled track from their 1982 album, Undercover. This song is played extremely well, and I consider this a litmus test of the band’s overall current musical chemistry together. “Undercover,” is excellent!! The mood and the lights come way down, and out come some amazing acoustic guitars for the classic ballad, “Angie.” This is a great rendition of the song. The next song in the amazingly full catalogue of their originals is, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” complete with a French horn. Everyone is now singing along with Mick and the boys. Song number nine is from the Let It Bleed album of 1969, “Monkey Man.” This also is not played live much, and the rendition is exceptionally close to the original edginess of the song’s intent. The Stones play a cover tune next. This is almost unheard of. The song, “Can’t Turn You Loose,” is played really well and does not sound contrived or forced. It is a natural for The Stones who seldom do any cover tunes at all. Mick pauses here to fully introduce the large entourage, which has become The Rolling Stones standard traveling band for concert venues.
After the well deserved introductions, Keith Richards has center stage with his melancholy ballad, “Slippin’ Away.” His delivery is confident and assured. He returns us to fever pitch with, “Happy,” off of Exile on Main Street. But the next song, “Sympathy For The Devil,” brings out the beast that underlies all us Stones fans. The stage lights are all red and flames shoot out toward the sky!! Mick has a long red coat and Keith milks the lead breaks on his vintage black ES335 Gibson guitar. “Sympathy For The Devil” is really done amazingly well and the stage presentation is incredible.
The Stones now descend along the long walkway to a secondary center stage in the middle of the audience. This concept originated on the last tour, Bridges to Babylon. Obviously this is a huge crowd pleaser, as it is back for this tour. On that last tour, at Madison Square Garden, is where I shook hands with Keith Richards and Daryl Jones as they came by on the walkway. The Stones repeat this audience perk, by occasionally bending over to slap fives with lucky audience members. I know how it is because I have been there.
From the center stage The Stones play, “You Got Me Rockin’,” from the Voodoo Lounge LP. Well done, indeed!! Next is a superior version of, “When The Whip Comes Down,” from Some Girls. This is excellent as well. Then they play the all-time crowd pleaser, “Miss You,” from that same era. Excellent again!!
The Stones return to the main stage and the music slowly and inconspicuously evolves into, “Gimme Shelter.” This is an incredible version, without any doubt. Lisa Fisher is featured on vocals and she rises to the occasion extremely well. This is one of my all time favorites, so I am very impressed with this tune. For the eighteenth song of the evening, Keith breaks into the super familiar guitar riff that starts “Honky Tonk Woman.” The crowd bursts, stands and is charged up with that magical rock & roll energy. Behind this stellar performance is this incredibly creative and topical animation of a voluptuous half-naked woman, dancing, riding and writhing on the Stones logo tongue!! This is very cleverly done and is a big addition to this year’s show. We are all going wild over the song, plus the large scale and apropos animation. There is huge audience applause after this number.
At just before 11:30 P.M., The Stones play, “Street Fightin’ Man.” The crowd is in an elated furor and I am singing high harmonies in full voice. The song is delivered amazingly well and recalls the emotion of that unique time, the fall of 1969, and the live version of the song at Ya-Ya’s in Madison Square Garden. Song twenty one is again a huge crowd pleaser, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” As I look across the huge stadium at all the fans (and the blinking tongues), I am in awe of the forty years The Stones have been playing rock & roll. I come from the very beginning of all of this, and it genuinely warms my heart to see the exuberant throng still cheer on my musical mentors.
The Stones exit and the standing ovation continues until they return. “Satisfaction” is the encore number. Although a summer 1965 number one hit, it remains their universal signature song, even so many decades later. Even the grouchy older woman, who was still checking ticket stubs at 11:30 P.M., and generally pissing everyone off, was singing along and finally smiling. Now this is getting through a very thick coat of skin. A huge fireworks display consummates the show, as has been the case the last few tours, and the show is finally over at 11:40 P.M. Wow, wow, wow!! My sister, my wife and I hug and yell at our collective excitement and complete pleasure.
The Stones did not disappoint what so ever!! They continue to sit on top of the huge rock & roll empire they helped to create. They spearheaded and broke ground for all the other bands to emulate over the many sustainable years of the rock & roll evolution. The Stones invented many of the forms that have been accepted as standards in rock & roll today. They continue to be innovators even at 40 Licks along the road!!!
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