Grande Finalé (no label)
Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA – December 19th, 1981
Disc 1 (68:08): Take The A Train, Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Let’s Spend The Night Together, Shattered, Neighbours, Black Limousine, Just My Imagination, Twenty Flight Rock, Going To A Go Go, Let Me Go, Time Is On My Side, Beast Of Burden, Waiting On A Friend
Disc 2 (72:26): Let It Bleed, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Band Introduction, Little T & A, Tumbling Dice, She’s So Cold, Hang Fire, Miss You, Honky Tonk Woman, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, Jumping Jack Flash, Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones’ 1981 tour took in fifty shows over four months. There were many highlights on one of the most lucrative tours, the final of which was “The World’s Greatest Rock’n Roll Party” on pay-per-view, telecasting the penultimate show on December 18th in Hampton, Virginia.
Never before had a rock band broadcast a concert this way. It set a precedent and remained one of the biggest tours in rock history for many years.
It ended the following night with a second show in Hampton on December 19th. Although it was professionally recorded and filmed, and contributed half of “Just My Imagination” to the live album “Still Life” (American Concert 1981), it has lapsed into relative obscurity.
The audience recording is fair to good and captures the entire show. The taper was a fair distance away from the stage resulting in the music sounding a bit murky. The bass is a bit louder than one would want for The Rolling Stones and there are some cuts between songs. But it is a perfectly listenable and enjoyable document of a rare show.
It was issued on CDR in 2001 by Rockin Rott Records titled Sweet Virgina, and “Just My Imagination” from the official live album was included on Going To A Go Go (STCD 1042) released in Italy in 1991. Grande Finalé is the first silver pressed edition of the entire audience tape. Compared to the CDR release, this sounds much smoother and cleaner.
After Bill Graham’s customary enthusiastic introduction, the band light into “Under My Thumb” and the long trip begins. The previous tour in 1978 averaged about eighteen songs lasting ninety minutes with much of the new album Some Girls being played.
But in 1981 the Stones expanded the show, averaging about thirty-one songs over more than two hours. There were two new albums to promote (Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You), plus now the Stones were offering a bit of a career retrospective by including more older songs and covers.
The grande finale of the Stones’ most ambitious tour to date is a bit of a let down after the previous night’s high. It starts off with “Take The A Train” and Bill Graham’s introduction before “Under My Thumb” and “When The Whip Comes Down.”
“Welcome Virginia and everyone who came down from Carolina… er, up from Carolina” Jagger corrects himself before “Let’s Spend The Night Together.” There is a slight sluggishness in the performance which is thankfully lifted with a scorching version of “Shattered.” They follow with an enthusiastic version of “Neighbours” and a sloppy but fun versions of “Black Limousine” and “Just My Imagination.”
“We’re gonna do two songs we’ve never recorded before from the fifties” Jagger warns before “Twenty Flight Rock” and “Going To A Go Go” which ends the “cover tune” portion of the show.
“Beast Of Burden” is pushed to epic lengths with two scorching saxophone solos by Ernie Watts. He added his particular style of seductive saxophone leads to the mix, unique in the recorded live history of the Stones. He appears on Still Live and the film Let’s Spend The Night Together, but this would be his final live show with the band.
Watts also plays a great saxophone in “Waiting On A Friend.” Jagger seems perturbed in the beginning, singing “I’m just standing in a doorway … SHIT!” There is another slight delay in his cues, but overall it is one of the moving moments of the show.
Before “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” he encourages the audience to sing along, and while introducing the band suggests they sing “Sweet Virginia.” The taper then says he wishes they would! (He voice sounds similar to the taper of the Led Zeppelin shows in Virginia in 1970 and Charlotte 1972).
The show ends strongly with a string of the band’s strongest rockers. “Hang Fire” from Tattoo You would be the b-side to the “Neighbours” single in April, 1982. “Miss You” still remains one of the most popular tunes from the previous tour and receives one of the loudest ovations of the night.
Keith has a bit of trouble at the start of “Brown Sugar,” hitting the wrong note and having to get into tune, but that is the only hiccup in an otherwise energetic closing. “Jumping Jack Flash” sounds like a riot, and the encore “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” brings down the house for what will be the Stones’ last live concert in the US for eight years.
The manufacturers of Grande Finalé co-op the name and artwork for the vinyl release which featured tracks from the pay-per-view telecast. Now assigned to the December 19th instead of the December 18th show, it’s more fitting. It is decorated with various photographs from the tour and a duplication of the vinyl art on the inverse cover. Although this isn’t’ the best audience recording, it’s good enough and it’s nice to have a new show pressed onto silver disc.