The Rolling Stones, ‘Summer Breeze’ (Empress Valley EVSD-1618/1619)

The Rolling Stones, ‘Summer Breeze’ (Empress Valley EVSD-1618/1619)

Disk 1: Introduction / Get Off My Cloud / 19th Nervous Breakdown / Tumbling Dice / Out Of Time / Angie / You Can’t Always Get What You Want / Like A Rolling Stone / You Got Me Rocking / Honky Tonk Women / band introductions / You Got The Silver / Happy (62:21)

Disk 2: Miss You / Midnight Rambler / Paint It Black / Start Me Up / Gimme Shelter / Jumping Jack Flash / Sympathy For The Devil / Satisfaction (66:18)

Hyde Park #2, London, UK. 3rd July, 2022.

A show of hands would probably reveal that very few people would have expected Keith Richards to live to 40 never mind celebrate 60 years helping front the continuing adventures of the Rolling Stones and yet, here we are – floating on a wave of tide of increasing unlikelihood but astonishing chutzpah, still bringing hordes of fans who first found their feet at Steel Wheels, maybe Some Girls, Goats Head Soup, maybe even 12 x 5 to stadia around the world despite the prices and the increasing threat of something going wrong – though coconut trees and heart stents weren’t the problem this tour. That’s a discussion for a different time however.

The big news, once the Stones landed in Britain, was an impending heatwave, the biggest news for Stones fans was the possibility of a show at London’s feted Albert Hall for their diamond anniversary. In the end, neither of those would matter – the sunshine only turning it’s headlamps on towards the middle of July, the Albert Hall being, no doubt, full of holes, not Stones. Three or four nights at the Palladium would have been the better suggestion, thought I.

London’s Hyde Park was the venue this year, however. The Stones second appearance there at the large ‘BST’ festival, sponsored by a major credit card company, featuring a collection of crowd pleasing recent artists Courtney Barnett (who is tremendous) and Sam Fender (who also appeared) along with the big headliners – Bob Dylan, Neil Young have featured in recent years – We all know that the due should be to the Taylor era Stones as they set this ball rolling over 50 years ago.

Recordings for this show were dry on the ground this year – A handful of iPhone recordings were upped to the forums, some of the better tapings hidden in covert places on the internet as those tapers were reticent to release them due to either bad mixes muddying the sound or other players on the internet tweaking the sound and mixing up a matrix. Fair do’s if you’ve gone to that effort, it’s a bit galling if you attended the show however but don’t have the connections.

Taper Ossie (Do I remember that name from other recordings?) however has decided that he wanted to share his digital capture with bootleg collectors and it’s Empress Valley that have taken him on. An excellent recording from a close enough vantage point in the crowd, there’s enough band with enough audience – The noise from the floor is what’s to be expected from a lug of Stones fans and gig goers in a British summer – All good natured hoots and hollers with a big shepherds pie dish full of cheers.

Personally, I turned down the bass on my system as when drummer Steve goes for the bass-peddle, I thought it a little boomy, it’s an occasional slight though and doesn’t affect around 95% of the recording, same for the summertime wind that bristles over the mic-head from time to time – Only keenly heard over ‘Angie’, it would have obliterated many an amateur recording. I was impressed by how well it came over too – An odd mix maybe of closeness but some of that comes from the fact that Mick is so chatty with the crowd that it almost feels like they’re playing to a meeting of 300, the sound is also pertinent to reminding your ears that at the same time, they’re certainly not. It’s also cheerfully not professionally mixed by a Clearmountain or whoever so all the instrumentation bleeds through easily.

The set list is certainly centered around pure crowd-pleasing. No ‘Living In A Ghost Town’, which is a shame, however, a version of the song Chris Farlow made popular, “Aftermath’s”, ‘Out Of Time’ fills the gap nicely. This is followed down the set by a cover of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (Who’s introduction is both joyful and knowing at the same time.) The rest of the set is full bellied classic Stones, though we get no further north of ‘You Got Me Rockin’’ from the modern era, nothing else needs to be added to the mix – This really is a celebration of a career as opposed to selling a new album (That’s next year maybe ..) – I’ll make mention of the appearance of ‘C’mon In My Kitchen’ in the middle of ‘Midnight Rambler’ reminding us that, no matter what configuration the Stones pull on next, they’re still blues-bellies at heart.

The bands performance is lively and bright – Both Keef and Ronnie play to best advantage tonight, Mick sounds a little breathy but then he had been given the sucker punch of Covid earlier in the tour, over shadowing these two shows, we’ll not mention the fact that he was also facing down 79 years of age either. His sense of humor hasn’t failed though as his zinger ratio is higher that I can remember it being before.

I was expecting a little more package-wise for this EV exclusive but the slipcase follows the lines of the previous years release which was taken from an internet download – As nice as it is, it’s spine is almost invisible in my collection – I would have liked to have seen it printed on the holographic paper that EV and Halcyon have used previous, personally but hopefully they’ll use that for their next release. For what it is, it’s beautiful.

Very worthy of adding to your collection and not just because there are very few of these recordings out there from this celebratory year, the taper and label have provided us with an awesome capture of the homecoming show.

Highly recommended!

Review by – Stu

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