Rolling Stones – Hampton Coliseum (Way of Wizards WOW)

Hampton Coliseum (Way of Wizards WOW)

Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA – December 18, 1981

2 DVD Proshot, 175 minutes, 4:3 NTSC, Dolby Digital

DVD1 (90:43) Radio Station ID intro, Back Stage Footage, George Thorogood & the Destroyers (partial set), Stones Set: Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Let’s Spend The Night Together, Shattered, Neighbors, Black Limousine, Twenty Flight Rock, Going To A Go Go, Let Me Go, Time Is On My Side

DVD2 (83:13) Waiting On A Friend, Let It Bleed, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Little T&A, Tumbling Dice, She’s So Cold, Hang Fire, Miss You, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, Jumpin Jack Flash, I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

This is the next to last show of the 81 U.S. Tour and is very special for two reasons…One it is Keef’s birthday but more importantly it is the first ever Stones pay per view (PPV) show.

This show is one of the more bootlegged Stones videos, probably due to the quality, but most of the releases I have seen have been on DVDR. The only other silver release I know of was by the “Top Of  The Line” (4Reel label) on a dual layer single disc which I thought  is in very similar in quality.   I welcome members to share info on any other silver disc releases they are aware of.

The packaging for the WOW releases are outstanding and this show is no different consisting of a double fold digipack which has a picture of an 81 Era still photo of Keef  holding a beautiful gold finished guitar in one hand on the front with a picture of Keef and Ronnie singing into the same mic on the back with the set list. Both inside foldouts have 81 tour picture collages and under the clear digipack trays there are photos of Keef and Mick. The Digipack holder slides into a glossy cardboard slipcase which has a 81 tour like pop art drawings of the band and with the tour stage logo flying V guitar in the background.

At first I suspected this may have been a knockoff of the excellent RSVP Brazilian DVDR version but after performing an A- B comparison I can say this is a different source then that release which contains exactly the same content. There are no menus and the discs have odd chapter breaks as if recorded or copied on a stand alone DVD recorder. It is too bad as a nice menu really would have finished off this excellent release.

Like most, if not all, of the DVD releases I have from this period the source tape is from VHS as you can see an unobtrusive tracking mark at the bottom of the screen most of the time. The picture itself is very good to excellent with just a little fuzz on the distance shots. Medium range shots are very clear and the close-ups are razor sharp. I would guess this video to be one to two generations removed from the master as there is just a little bit of grain and the colors are very true with no bleeding.  If anything the colors are slightly muted but this may be from the broadcast itself or the VHS tape may have been recorded at a slower then optimum speed lowering the resolution. There may also be a slight loss of resolution due to WOW putting more than 60 minutes on each DVD which lowers the bit rate. This also is probably the cause of the little bit of picture grain which is evident only on the distance shots.

The audio comes up in Dolby Digital and is an excellent clean Video SB recording which tends toward the warm side and may be a little soft on the high frequency which sound muted. Still a very nicely balanced audio track and I happen to favor a slightly warm sound so I found it to be very enjoyable.

This release starts off with a naked women with station ID’s painted all over her body. She recites the call letters of various radio stations, which were broadcasting the show in FM simulcast, as the camera slowly pans her body. The video then shifts to backstage footage including Bill Graham playing Bill Wyman in ping pong! The camera then goes to a room where Keef and Ronnie are noodling on guitar warming up for their show. Next we get to see several songs of the opening act, George Thorogoods set. The few songs of GT’s set are so good it makes you wish you could have seen the whole set and this band is a perfect warm-up to the Stones show! When GT comes off stage you see him backstage with Keef and Ronnie talking and noodling on their guitars. You then follow the Stones through the tunnels and on to the stage.

As for the Stones’ performance, it is one of the top shows of the tour and I find my self coming back to this video and the audio CD (“Hippy Happy Keith”, Glimmer Twins CD label) of this show again and again so. The set is outstanding from start to finish with a slower pace then some of the earlier 81 tour shows which could sound hurried.  I am sure the PPV event may have had something to do with the fantastic performance as the Stones always rose to the occasion when they being filmed even if they could be a little hammy for the cameras.

If you want to see just how much the band evolved during the tour, and how tight they became by this show, first listen to Philly SB from the second show of the tour and then listen to this show. The improvement in playing and the performance is astounding! It is truly an amazing transformation!

Have to say who ever produced this PPV show back in 1981 did an excellent job as it gives you the feel of being there!

This release is excellent from the packaging to the quality of the video and audio. I can’t see the quality getting much better unless the Stones open the vault and finally start releasing some of the jewels they have been sitting on all these years. This is without a doubt one of my favorite Stones videos and I rank it right up there with the 4 Reel version of  72 tour video “Ladies and Gentlemen” and the 76 Paris show WOW label DVDs for viewing pleasure. I would have to say this DVD set is a must have in any Stones fans video collection and one you will find your self watching over an over.  Highly recommended.

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