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The Rolling Stones – Dome On Wheels (no label)

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Dome On Wheels (no label)

Although most major rock bands played in Japan at one point or another in the sixties and seventies, The Rolling Stones never toured there until the massive ten day engagement in the Tokyo Dome in 1990.  The twenty-eight year delay may have been caused by their well known drug arrests in the sixties and seventies.  And unlike Paul McCartney, who booked two tours there only to see them canceled, The Stones didn’t even try.

When they finally got around to visiting Japan, it was on the long Steel Wheels tour in the beginning of 1990.  Rehearsals began at the Mza nightclub in Tokyo between February 6th to 11th (without Bill Wyman), and with Wyman on February 12th and 13th before the opening night on Valentine’s Day.   

Another interesting ancedote is this is the time when Ronnie Wood went from a hired hand to being a full fledged Stone.  Wood reminisced in 2003, saying:  “Before we went to Japan, on the Steel Wheels tour, my pals Charlie and Bill stood up for me…. They said, Ronnie’s slaved away as hard as we have and he’s not getting as much as us. And the rest of the band said, Right, OK, we’ll finally end your apprenticeship, you’re finally part of the band.”

Dome On Wheels is a six disc set with three shows from previously uncirculated tape sources, coming from the same taper as the Mick Jagger shows in the Dome two years prior.  It also compares to Steel Wheels Japan Tour 1990(VGP-346), another six disc set with three shows from this tour.  The Vinyl Gang has the first three shows, so these two sets share the February 14th and February 17th, but the no label only has the February 20 concert which has never before been released in its entirty on silver disc.  

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – February 14th, 1990

Disc 1 (64:10):  Continental Drift, Start Me Up, Bitch, Sad Sad Sad, Harlem Shuffle, Tumbling Dice, Miss You, Ruby Tuesday, Play With Fire, Rock And A Hard Place, Mixed Emotions, Honky Tonk Women, Midnight Rambler

Disc 2 (67:49):  You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Can’t Be Seen, Happy, Paint It Black, 2000 Light Years from Home, Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Brown Sugar, Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash

Two older sources have been released before.  The first source on The First Night (Out of Control Records) followed by another one on the first two discs of Steel Wheels Japan Tour 1990 (VGP-346).  Dome On Wheelsis a very clear but slightly distant recording of the whole show.  The taper was able to capture the excitement of the performance very well and the atmosphere is very well preserved.

A palpable buzz is evident during the opening “Continental Drift” before the band are physically on stage.  Many of their tours have a signature opening.  In the past they would use an existing piece of work such as Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man” or Duke Ellington’s “Take The A Train.”  But on this tour they used a ninety second clip of their own composition punctuated by explosions and the band running on stage.

It’s obvious from the beginning that they are trying very hard to impress the audience.  Slightly tight, Jagger wishes the audience a happy valentine’s day after “Bitch”  and attempts, with some self-depreciating laughter, to speak to the audience in Japanese. 

“Sad Sad Sad” is the first Steel Wheels song performed by the band in the set.  “Undercover Of The Night” which followed during the North American tour the previous year was dropped.  Only the cover of Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle” from Dirty Work and “Start Me Up” from Tattoo You are from their early eighties output.

Jagger is indeed correct in his assessment before “Tumbling Dice” when he says ”it’s gonna be a beautiful night.”  They get over their nerves and deliver a very good and polished show.  Ron Wood in particular plays notably nasty sounding guitar solos in “Miss You” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” maybe in celebration of the first show in which he is a full-fledged Stone.      

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – February 17th, 1990

Disc 3 (66:48):  Continental Drift, Start Me Up, Bitch, Sad Sad Sad, Harlem Shuffle, Tumbling Dice, Miss You, Ruby Tuesday, Almost Hear You Sigh, Rock And A Hard Place, Mixed Emotions, Honky Tonk Women, Midnight Rambler

Disc 4 (73:48):  You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Can’t Be Seen, Happy, Paint It Black, 2000 Light Years from Home, Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Brown Sugar, Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash

Discs three and four cover the third night of the tour.  This is another tape used compared to Steel Wheels Japan Tour 1990 (VGP-346).  It is slightly distant from the stage but picks up the atmosphere well and is very enjoyable.

Jagger isn’t as talkative in this as he was in the first concert of the tour and his attempts at speaking Japanese are kept to a minimum.   “Sad Sad Sad” is notable for having a very good saxophone solo in the middle.

“Play With Fire,” which followed ”Ruby Tuesday” in the first concert is replaced by “Almost Hear You Sigh.”  And with “Rock And A Hard Place” and “Mixed Emotions” following, it forms a short three song Steel Wheels set.  ”Midnight Rambler” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” push the limits of their improvisitory talents in the middle of the show. 

Keith Richards is given a loud ovation for his two song set.  And after singing “Can’t Be Seen” he says:  “that was a bit of rock, this is a bit of roll” before “Happy.”  The audience respond loudly to the spirt of the piece.  The contrast with the trippy beginning of “Paint It Black” is apparent.  But the latter serves well as a prelude to “2000 Light Years From Home,” their theatric setpiece.  

When the song makes its segue into “Sympathy For The Devil” the audience start already with the hoots, preparing to sing along with Jagger.  They do their best to make it sound close to the 1969 versions with a loose feel to it.  “Gimme Shelter” sounds more uptempo than past versions.

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – February 20th, 1990

Disc 5 (59:10):  Continental Drift, Start Me Up, Bitch, Sad Sad Sad, Harlem Shuffle, Tumbling Dice, Miss You, Angie, Rock And A Hard Place, Mixed Emotions, Honky Tonk Women, Midnight Rambler

Disc 6 (76:54):  You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Little Red Rooster, Can’t Be Seen, Happy, Paint it Black, 2000 Light Years from Home, Sympathy For The Devil, Gimme Shelter, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Brown Sugar, Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash

Fifth show of the tour and one of the rarest.  The only silver release to feature material from this show is “Little Red Rooster” which appears as a bonus track on Alive And Rollin’ 1990 (Vinyl Gang VGP-090).  Otherwise this is the first appearance of the whole show on silver disc.  This recording is significantly more distant than the other two.  While it captures the atmosphere nicely, it also contains much echo from the venue and is a bit fuzzy as a result.

The performance is fantastic.  Playing with confidence, it sounds like both the band and the audience are in a giant party.  Being able to achieve this level of intimacy is remarkable in such a sizable venue. 

The tape cuts in during the introduction, missing all but twenty seconds of “Continental Divide.”  The fireworks are loud as the Stones run on stage for energetic versions of “Start Me Up” and “Bitch.”  There is a deafening roar when Jagger tell the audience that “we waited a long time to come to Japan.”

A slutty version of “Miss You” almost brings down the house.  “Ruby Tuesday” dropped and they go straight into the two Steel Wheels hits “Rock And A Hard Place” and “Mixed Emotions.”  

But is is the classics that provide opportunities for the Japanese to play kareoke with band as they sing along.  They are extremely loud during “Honky Tonk Woman,” joining Jagger on the chorus throughout the song.  ”You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is another song for them to sing along to, and the song is segued with “Little Red Rooster.”  This song was played rarely on the Steel Wheels tour and makes its only appearance in Japan on this night.  It would appear several times on the Urban Jungle tour later in the year.

Richards is given his usual ecstatic reception for his two song set as is the following dark songs with “Paint It Black,” and the short medley of “2000 Light Years From Home” and “Sympathy For The Devil.”  Enthusastic nights like this are there reason why the Stones end their set with their most well known songs.  ”Brown Sugar” is particularly effective on this night, cutting through the cheers.  

Overall this is a nice collection of tapes from the Japan tour in 1990.  It’s beneficial to have for the first appearance on silver of the complete February 20th show.  It’s packaged in a six disc jewel case with many photographs from the Stones’ visit to the island including Mick impressing a group of Japanese girls in the front row. 

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The Rolling Stones - Dome On Wheels (no label), 2.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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