Rolling Stones – Live At The Budokan Special Edition (Exile EXM-015ABC)

Live At The Budokan Special Edition (Exile EXM-015ABC)

Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan – March 10th, 2003
Disc 1:  Introduction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, You Got Me Rocking, Live With Me, Let It Bleed, No Expectations, Rocks Off, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Worried About You, Midnight Rambler, band introduction, Slipping Away, Before They Make Me Run

Disc 2:  Start Me Up, It’s Only Rock And Roll, Rock Me Baby, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Honky Tonk Women, Tumbling Dice, Brown Sugar, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Disc 3, rehearsal tracks:  Rocks Off, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, That’s How Strong My Love Is, No Expectations, Worried About You, I Can’t Turn You Loose

It took the Rolling Stones almost thirty years to make their live debut in Japan on the 1990 Steel Wheels tour and almost forty to make their first (and so far only) appearance at the famous Budokan on the Licks tour in 2003.  There have been many releases of the March 10th, 2003 concert including The Nights I Spend Just Waiting On The Rising Sun on DigiPig 033, Rock Me Budokan on Phoenix Records (D356663), Sweet Things That You Promised 0n Sylph (S030314) and the massive twelve box set on Vinyl Gang Rolling Stones Front Row – Licks Japan Tour 2003 (VGP-330). 

The tape sourced used by Exile for this release is a stunning three-dimensional audience DAT recording.  It picks up every detail from the stage including a “heaviness” that is usually not associated with the Stones, especially from the Licks tour. 

Exile reproduces the entire review written by Dean Goodman on the inside liner which was posted on the IORR message board which begins:  “Could Tokyo be the new Buenos Aires? The enthusiastic crowd at the Budokan on Monday certainly imbued the Stones’ first stop in Japan with a Latin feel, hooting and hollering for the entire two-hour set. Anecdotal stories about sedentary Japanese fans politely clapping at the end of each set were happily proven completely false. 

And after enduring (what I considered) relatively sedate crowds in Australia, the band certainly ramped it up a few notches.  It will be interesting to see how they can do better on the remaining Japanese shows.”  That observation is definitely correct, as this is one of the hottest, tightest and best concerts which everybody needs to have in their collection.

The Licks tour in and of itself was unique since it was conceived as a celebration of their greatest hits.  There was no new material to present, just the phenomena of the Stones playing in arenas, theaters and clubs.  The first half of the show has a nice rendition of “No Expectations” and the cover “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”.  After an epic “Midnight Rambler” Mick introduces the band and Keith for his set. 

“It’s nice to be in the Budokan, it’s good to be anywhere,” Richards says before “Slipping Away”.  The second half has a long version of the rarely played “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” where Jagger throws the harp into the fun.  “Tumbling Dice” is an interesting and effective set closer with “Brown Sugar” and “Satisfaction” as the encores.  The Stones always seem to turn their performances up a notch in the big cities and for important occasions and this is definitely one.   

The third disc contains a longer version of the rehearsal tape from the afternoon.  It is a mediocre and horribly unbalanced audience probably made by one of the many journalists there.  We can hear some little chatter between unknown interlocutors and band members about the hotel and other things. 

The music is distant and disturbing, but does contain a great version of Otis Redding’s  “That’s How Strong My Love Is”, a song they recorded for their Out Of Our Heads LP.  Followed by Jagger answering the journalist some off the cuff questions.  This is a nice addition but the focus is upon the first two discs.  The artwork is simple but effective and another Exile title worth owning.

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