Danger! Keep Behind Barbed Wire (His Masters Choice HMC005)
Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX – November 1, 1997
CD1 (78:33): Intro; Satisfaction; It’s Only Rock N’ Roll; Let’s Spend the Night Together; Flip the Switch; Gimmie Shelter; Dead Flowers; Anybody Seen My Baby; Bitch; Out Of Control; Star Star; Miss You; Band Intros; All About You; Wanna Hold You
CD2 (78:05): Stage Transfer; Little Queenie (B-Stage); Crazy Momma (B-Stage); You Got Me Rocking (B-Stage); Sympathy For The Devil; Tumblin Dice; Honky Tonk Women; Start Me Up; Jumpin Jack Flash; Brown Sugar (Encore); Bonus Tracks: Tumbling Dice; Anybody Seen My Baby; Sister Morphine; Out Of Control; Gimmie Shelter (Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY, October 25, 1997)
The Bridges to Babylon Tour was the Stones most ambitious to date starting on September 4, 1997 in the tiny Horseshoe Café in Toronto, Canada and finishing just over year later on September 19, 1998, in Istanbul, Turkey, after a total of 108 shows. The tour featured a massive stage with a huge circular projection screen and for the first time premiered the small B-stage out in the center of the crowd which the Stones accessed via a multimillion dollar retractable telescoping bridge.
The recording on this “His Majesties Choice” release is from the 18th show of the tour at the huge Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. There was a lot of controversy over the seating plan at this venue as the stage was set up in the center of the oval track with the chain link fence, used to protect race fans from flying debris, in front of the Stones fans in the grandstand. It is this fence, and comment about it by Mick during the show, which inspired the unusual title for this release. There were also thousands of seats with obstructed views which left many of the attendees less than happy with the seating arrangements.
When this title was released the claim was that this was a new unreleased soundboard recording and it is easy to see why as the tape used is a very warm, crystal clear, three dimensional stereo recording.
The guitars, especially Keefs, are slightly upfront but all the instruments and vocals are well balanced. It has been reported in another review that this is actually an audience recording so I listened to this title over half a dozen times in every conceivable environment including in my car, in 5 channel stereo mode on my home theater system, and several times using headphones and to my ears I tend to favor this being and excellent balanced soundboard recording. The audience is in the background, all the instruments are well separated and razor sharp and the recording is very consistent for the whole performance. The only hint for me that this might actually be an audience recording is that there is a very slight muffled hollowness you get on the vocals on an audience recording but after comparing this to several other known sound boards I have, which had the same vocal effect, I am convinced this is a sound board as advertised.
As for the performance one thing I always liked about the BtB shows was their consistency. While not every show was exceptional, I have never heard a bad performance in the 6 shows I attended or the 30+ tapes I have in my collection and this performance is no exception. While this may not have been a special night the bands playing is very solid with no major mistakes evident. Everyone will have their favorite songs and I tend to favor the early material so “Dead Flowers”, “Little Queenie” were standouts for me along with Keefs two songs. HMC also provides a nice selection of five bonus tracks, with a great version of Sister Morphine, from the MTV’s 10-Spot at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York in excellent official release quality to fill up the second disc.
The packaging for this title is also first class as the CD’s are housed in clear plastic sleeves on the inside of the front and back covers of a hardcover bound book with pages of BTB tour photos and a great interview with Mick by Dean Goodman of Reuters from September 20th, 1997. In my opinion the packaging rivals a Tarantura of Empress Valley release without the premium price. A great job by the “His Majesties Choice” Label.
When you combine the outstanding packaging with the excellent sound quality a good performance and modest price this title is a no brainer for any Stones fan and would be a nice choice for the casual fan looking for a title from the BtB tour and is therefore highly recommended.