The Rolling Stones – Salut Les Gones (Empress Valley EVSD 1623/1624)

The Rolling Stones, ‘Salut Les Gones’ (Empress Valley EVSD 1623/1624)
Disk 1; Introduction / Street Fighting Man / Let’s Spend The Night Together / Tumbling Dice / Out Of Time / Dead Flowers / Angie / You Can’t Always Get What You Want / Ghost Town / Honky Tonk Women / band introduction / You Got The Silver / Happy (64:59)
Disk 2: Miss You / Midnight Rambler / Paint It Black / Start Me Up / Sympathy For The Devil / Jumping Jack Flash / Satisfaction / Gimme Shelter* / Wild Horses* (70:31)
Recorded Live at the Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France, 19th July, 2022. * Bonus tracks – Pre concert rehearsals at Ernst-Hapel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria, 15th July, 2022.
Zipping from country to country, having their hands forced by the Covid delays on their ’60 and Counting Tour’, the Stones found themselves in France. A suburb of Lyon, to be precise, at the Groupama stadium. Otherwise known as the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, this still recent venue (It opened in 2016 after a laboured and fractious construction), host to over 59,000 attendees took the mantle of hosting one of the hottest tickets this year. 
This recording is unique in the fact that it also offered what tapers had considered virtually impossible this tour – Capturing an IEM feed. Many had tried it seems, there had been, so far, only a handful of very good audience recordings – most of these still doing the rounds in secret groups to avoid being mangled by attempts to fix a stereo matrix between various other audience recordings – had been uploaded to the internet, from bootlegs it was slim pickings. This IEM / audience matrix from Empress Valley was the first known recording that was of the highest digital quality (That is, it was the first ‘soundboard’ quality recording to be made available, other audience recordings were out there in various forms of quality). 
An exclusive recording for EV too, it was one that had it’s credentials, stiring the Stones collecting community who were obviously waiting for one from the previous 9 shows of the tour but had been deprived, the No Label guys and EV were seemingly the only silver backs that were being released. 
Staring with the show, it’s a great event – Just as figures on the internet were to suggest that each of the shows they had attended was one of the best they had seen, Lyon had the Stones doing their upmost to put on a great gig – The set list a rote presentation of the best of the rest of the tour but the main charm to the show is obviously how well Keith and Ronnie are playing. From Street Fighting Man through Out of Time, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Happy, Midnight Rambler (With this season’s wonderful blues breakdown!), Paint It Black to Satisfaction, it’s a great night for the two guitarists – No mess-ups and blunders of note, no spilling out all over the stage. Certainly Keith, despite his knobbly-knuckles, has sharpened up after clearing away the booze. Sasha Allen is a gem by the way, were you not aware by now – Her vocal playfulness on ‘YCAGWYW’ is quite lovely. 
The recording itself came under a bit of flak for it’s uneven presentation – understandable that the risks of attempting the IEM in the first place were always going to be a little challenging otherwise. I first listened to the recording through my speakers but only through headphones did the limitations front themselves. If you were paying for the recording, of course you’d have the right to complain a little, trusting that the reason that you were buying it however, is that you were familiar with bootlegs, I might suggest that that’s the point. Granted, you’re listening to a recording that’s a few notches above audience, however, it’s not officially mixed, it’s presented to the best of it’s efforts – yes, sometimes Keith’s backing vocals might be as loud as Mick’s, it’s something that I hadn’t heard that much of previously, I took it to be a delightful kink, there are elements of static at the beginning of ’Street Fighting Man’, these don’t blight the entire track though. 
Bonus tracks come from the internet and the appearance of two rehearsal tracks pre-gig in Vienna. The sound quality isn’t quite so high as the rest of the set, though it’s very competent enough having gone through the IEM again, it lacks some of the audience reaction – That being said, some people might prefer it this way, in which case, they’re a great couple of tracks in the “Closer Than Close” vein. 
The label have taken a little more care with their presentation than previous releases from this tour, making a chunky duo-fold paper case with an obi strip to house the disks. These are presented in simple generic sleeves but the disks themselves are nicely silkscreen printed with an alternate of the lips logo.  The only downside to this is the gold on black print which is a complete arse to read in the wrong lights but as you’ll know the set list to the best extent shouldn’t really matter – The trouble is if you’re trying to read the titles by low-light for a review. 
Don’t let the desenters put you off – this isn’t a bad recording at all, it’s not a classic maybe but it’s not dreadful in the slightest – Close to the next IEM then it’s just as good as the high end audience recordings if not better. The disks are full (No 30 minute disks here), the rehearsals are more than the sum of their parts, the packaging is great. An easy decision for pick up. 

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