The Rolling Stones “Chicago 2013 – First Night” (No label)
Live at United Center, Chigago, IL, USA. 28th May 2013.
Disc 1 (61:11): Intro, Get Off Of My Cloud, It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It), Paint It Black, Gimme Shelter, Wild Horses, Rocks Off, Emotional Rescue, Six Days On The Road ( With Taj Mahal), Doom And Gloom, One More Shot, Honky Tonk Women
Disc 2 (77.36): Band Introductions, You Got The Silver, Before They Make Me Run, Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor), Miss You, Start Me Up, Tumbling Dice, Brown Sugar, Sympathy For The Devil, You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with The Roosevelt University Conservatory Chorus), Jumpin’ Jack Flash, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (w/ Mick Taylor)
The Stones may no longer have the devil sit on their shoulders but he’s there in the hallowed dressing rooms waiting for their return from the stage to give them a pep talk each night.
Their “50 And Counting” tour brought the band back to the masses after a 5 year gap and who would have thought they’d still be punching their weight this much, never mind punching their bus passes at this stage. Their shows, while maybe not the two dollar jamboree of old, pack as much of a punch, if not more than some of their contemporaries can muster.
classicrawker reviewed the final show of the tour – Washington 2013 – for the site and he wrote of a slightly wonky show at times, something was still spooking the (wild) horses and giving cause for concern that the band could have enjoyed a few more rehearsals.
And so it goes with this show of nearly a month earlier. Beginning with the jumble of famous faces announcing their love of the Stones on the opening video, mainly in the most base and sweaty ways they can manage, then the rumble of the clattering drumming gorillas who stormed through the crowd to the tune of a morph of “Sympathy For The Devil” and announced the arrival of the band, the set began the way that stuck for a few shows on this part of the tour with a slightly unexpected “Get Off Of My Cloud”. I say unexpected but there are other ways that I may have thought that the band might spring on to the stage rather than a moderately considered single from the 60’s, that said, it gets an excitable call and response reaction from the crowd.
The band chose a much better song for introduction on their second track in “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll”. One where they can finally fly a little more and would tie in with the dirty rock aesthetic.
A genial Jagger breaks the ice with the crowd by saying hello to the audience including the gang from out of town before the band spirit through a reasonable “Paint It Black”, a version that starts shakily but rounds itself back up by the second verse. It’s driven further by Charlie’s walloping drum fills as he must sense a hint of sluggishness and brings his power back to the fore again.
Jagger cracks a joke about the United Center being dubbed “The House That MJ Built” (After Basketballer Michael Jordan) and his misgivings about that title.
Moving in to a thrilling “Gimmie Shelter” it doesn’t seem to feature any of the fluffs or falls of Washington and is a big, bold and extended rendition of the fury. Lisa Fischer once again shows just how much of a formidable force she stands, easily the equal if not better than some of the guests that had previously joined the band to fill Merry Clayton’s boots.
“Wild Horses” tones down the power a little but serves to imply some of the little licks in the song as Keith hits his stride a little more and plays to a graceful end.
The online vote winner from the Stones survey tonight was the Exile track “Rocks Off”. It seems strange that the band would risk falling on their own sword if they didn’t know a song but tonight’s chosen extra is just as well played as other songs that they should know a little better.
“Six Days On The Road” follows a pumping “Emotional Rescue” where Jagger pulls out a very impressive falsetto, a change from the standards they were used to playing from their other shows. Joined on stage by their Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus compatriot Taj Mahal (Are the Who still bared or just too busy?) “Six Days .. ” the Earl Green & Carl Montgomery penned ode to the all American truck driver.
It suits the band perfectly having one of their fellow baby-boomers join them on stage, the only trouble being that Taj’s voice is shot and he struggles to keep up – it’s Jagger who takes over most vocal duties on this rendition.
The two newbies are unveiled from the stage. Like or loathe the new tracks they’re part of the stage show now. Tonight’s performance of “Doom and Gloom” starts off sloppily enough as Keith fluffs his guitar lines but it’s quickly rectified before they go much further. As usual the songs are played at lightening speed as if the Stones are fed up of playing them too – a curious turn.
They return to the classics though with a ‘Sticky Fingers’ favourite “Honky Tonk Women”, a true fire way to a fans heart if there ever was one. A perfect rendition apart from a little muffle in the tapers sound right in the middle.
Keith’s turn comes right after the lengthy introductions from Mick. A lovely, down paced “You Got The Silver” floats along, the crowd singing back each and every word back to the ragged raconteur. “Before They Make Me Run” gets pretty much the same response – although it’s difficult to hear the crowd call back over the guitars and thump of the drums.
Wordlessly Jagger returns for a crack at “Midnight Rambler” , tonight’s other guest Mick Taylor perhaps no introduction though with his help, the first part of the song just flies. There’s no premeditated menace, severe silences, it’s a welterweight solo that Taylor pushes in to the middle of the mountain that ends up breaking the thrust of it all, however, it’s no mean feat to try better the crackle of the earlier versions of this track but the band do it fantastically, pushing the beast of the beat through the quieter moments before turning up the pace again and running the song to a terrific ending.
Another lengthy track awaits as Jagger implores the audience to give it up for a sing along and “Miss You” is one of those songs that is near impossible not to sing along with. The addition of the extended bass soloing is the disco – coated breakdown answer to “Midnight Rambler”‘s call and response and it builds nicely towards a choppy, charged ending.
“Start Me Up” is preceded by a little Jagger banter referencing this year but aping 1975 as Mick slips in his over-egged American accent. The facade soon falls as he laughs when he remembers Keef and himself discussing the last time they were here .. Quite what that story was I guess we’ll never know but it sounds like a palm-face of epic pro proportions.
Now in to the last quarter of the set “Tumbling Dice” and “Brown Sugar” are the first two rabbits from the traps, home-hitting, high-balling standards from the Mick Taylor years, it’s just a shame that Mr. Taylor wasn’t invited to join the Stones for a little more stage time but it’s understood that you get what you expect, no point dragging out the surprises.
“Sympathy For The Devil” is the first of the late arrivals that had the audience shouting back their excitement, and this they do tentatively before Jagger picks up the mantle and encourages such response. A great slow burner that begins with it’s tribal style drumming shortly followed by a bar room barrelled piano before Keith brings in the guitar to scattered and fierce effect.
The final three songs are pretty much a done deal “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is aided by the Rosevelt University Conservatory Choirus – A rolling revue greeted each town – and by a sloppy slice of Keith’s guitar. This rectified itself quickly though and a great, spirited version follows in it’s wake.
So, the final two tracks were going to be harder to miss than a Mike Tyson punch. Would it be to anyones surprise if we got these two and would we want it another way? Of course not.
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” drop without much warning, kicking out any doubts of who still holds the mantle of greatest rock band in the world today ( Take that Coldplay, Pearl Jam or whoever thinks they’re taking this trophy just yet) sweeping the crown in to apoplexy and dunking them in ecstatic joy.
Two fantastic renditions, one awesome band. There’s no contest.
As Classrawker said in his review, these shows are not as essential as the classic years for shows but some may matter more than most. I might venture to suggest that with Taj Mahal in the guest spot this might be one of those shows that over takes the rest. It is, of course, all dependant on your choice of tracks.
Casual fans might just pick a favourite, the staunch ones of us might want them all.