Vancouver First Night (SODD 038/39)
Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, Canada – June 3rd, 1972
Disc 1 (45:30): Brown Sugar, Rocks Off, Gimme Shelter, Bitch, Tumbling Dice, Happy, Honky Tonk Women, Loving Cup, Torn & Frayed, Ventilator Blues
Disc 2 (42:29): Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, All Down The Line, Bye Bye Johnny, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
When the Rolling Stones planned their first tour in three years they chose to begin on the west coast and to work their way east to end almost two months later in New York, a similar itinerary as the tour in 1969. Vancouver was chosen because it is on the west coast but far enough away from the bigger cities San Francisco and Los Angeles and allowed the band to tinker with the set list.
This show proved to be problematic even before the band hit the stage. In their last visit to the city on July 19th, 1966 Richards swung his guitar and hit a police officer after the power was turned off, an incident which made the police reluctant to allow the band to even appear in the city.
On the day of the show Marshall Chess, the famous record producer and owner of Chess Records, handed out free tickets in front of the venue causing a riot by fans attempting to catch them, inflaming an already paranoid police who experienced a similar riot several months before by fans wanting to buy tickets to see Led Zeppelin in a show that was eventually cancelled and moved south to Seattle.
Despite this one fan was able to tape the entire “dress rehearsal” and this important tape has seen several releases on compact disc. It is a fair to reasonably good mono audience recording that provides a good record of the events on stage.
Vancouver First Night (Off Beat Records CD20) is missing the beginning tuning, “Tumbling Dice,” and places “Honky Tonk Women” after “Street Fighting Man” giving the impression it is an encore.
Compared to the Off Beat Records version, SODD is, according to Rawlings, brighter and less balanced. Vancouver 72 (Idol Mind 022/23), released about fifteen years ago, is an improvement over the Off Beat Records version since all of the songs are present in the proper order.
SODD is the first release of this show since and it is curious there are so few titles given its important. This new version sounds much brighter and dynamic than the Idol Mind. One Stones collector comments, “The SODD version is ‘fake stereo,’ probably caused by tape mis-alignment. The recording was mono to begin with. I believe the IMP release was the same but I used one channel mixed into both which eliminates this phasing effect….The SODD version sounds a little more bassy and trebly than IMP’s to my ears. Overall I think the SODD is an equalized copy of the IMP CD from 15 years ago. It doesn’t seem better or worse, just different.” (DH)
SODD place “Ventilator Blues” at the end of the first disc after “Torn & Frayed” when the best authorities place it later in the set after “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Some have commented that the SODD release might be “too bright,” but it does sound like the label wanted to open up the tape and produce something much more enjoyable than has previously circulated and this version sounds more immediate and engaging.
The concert itself is what can be expected for an opening night of a major tour with lots of nervous energy and surprises in the set list with the band making some mistakes. Rolling Stone magazine reports, “The show lasts an hour and 40 minutes, Keith blows two guitars, and the Stones get to test which songs they’ll be using on the rest of the tour; The first one’s always a dress rehearsal for us,’ Mick says the next morning.”
The Province writes, “Traditionally rough and messy and strong, the Stones were rough and messy and strong on Saturday, launching into a set that caught fire – and then gradually flickered out. Familiar to begin with, the central segment relied on slow blues and new material from the Exile on Main Street album – much of which, lyrically inaudible, left little impression except as an extension of Rolling Stones style. And, when they had almost lost the energy, almost rolled to a point of musical inertia, they saved themselves with familiarity again – something recognizable to cheer for, songs that one knew the words to so it didn’t matter if the sound was turning to spaghetti halfway down the room.”
The set list contains eight songs from the new album all making their live debuts.
Two songs, “Torn & Frayed” and “Ventilator Blues” were dropped after this show never to appear again and “Loving Cup” would disappear after the Seattle shows the following night. This latter cut is a shame since “Loving Cup” is an excellent live piece which could have developed in time. It also gives pianist Nicky Hopkins a chance to be heard in the mix since most of his contributions are buried under the other instruments.
The packaging for Vancouver First Night is in line with previous titles from this label. It comes in a fatboy jewel case with very clean and simple graphics and a fuzzy black and white photo from the tour on the front cover.