The Rolling Stones – Foxboro 1989 1st Night (No Label)

The Rolling Stones, ‘Foxboro 1989 1st Night’ (No Label)

Live at Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, MA, USA. 29th Sept, 1989

Continental Shift / Start Me Up / Bitch / Sad Sad Sad / Undoercover Of The Night / Harlem Shuffle / Tumbling Dice / Miss You / Ruby Tuesday / Play With Fire / Dead Flowers / Rock And A Hard Place / Mixed Emotions / honky Tonk Women / Midnight Rambler

You Can’t Always Get What You Want / Little Red Rooster / Before They Make Me Run / Happy / Paint It Black / 2000 Light Years From Home / Sympathy For The Devil / Gimme Shelter / It’s Only Rock ’N Roll / Brown Sugar / Satisfaction / Jumping Jack Flash

This audience recording – around midway from the stage but with enough atmosphere to sound like you’re stood in the moment as opposed to being a million miles away but you’re not right at the front either. From what I read, this show has been released previously as Boston 1989 1st Night (No Label ), Midnight Gambler (Pignose Records) and Boston 1989 1st Night (No Label 2015), unfortunately, I don’t have these recordings to compare from but assume, as far as these disks go, they are as close to the original CDRs without upgrade.

The set itself, while obviously not classic stones, could still be considered the Stones last ‘best’ period, there are still elements of that cer-azy 80’s influenced sound that nearly every band tagged along with, it would be another couple of years before we all kicked THAT instinct but thankfully, the old tracks don’t seem to suffer too much from it.

‘Start Me Up’ has some bigger stereo panning issues at 1:30 but this only lasts around 4 seconds, there are other little pops and ticks throughout, nothing as jolting as this though and could be assumed par for an earlier recorded bootleg before a lot of the newer technology kicked in. The band race through the gig – fast and furious ‘Bitch’ sparks and shines as does the long lost ‘Sad, Sad, Sad’ as Keef’s guitar glistens with a mad abandon while Ronnie’s soloing chases around it’s legs like a puppy, desperate to be caught.

‘Undercover Of The Night’ has a lashing of that overcooked production to it still but, granted, it was still new, it needed it’s time to shine and do it’s promotion thing. ‘Harlem Shuffle’ has a quasi-’70’s jam to it meaning that it has aged just a little better than some of the rest, had it have had a resurface recently, no doubt some of the hipsters would have had a groovy time to it.

‘Tumbling Dice’ takes us back to a simpler time – Could it be considered in the pantheon of “War Horses” like a ‘Satisfaction’ or ‘Jumping Jack Flash’? Discussions below, please, but it is still deserved of a place in it all. ‘Miss You’ follows, Mick throws in a bit of call and response to the crowd – a little more than I’m used to hearing at least – while Ronnie’s solo is fantastic, zipping left, right and around while keeping steadfastly correct.

Things get a little rowdier by this point as someone in the crowd gets a little lary, a little more juiced up, counting in the chorus to ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and adding a few rowdy yelps into the mix. He’s not bothersome, just amusing and thankfully, he doesn’t stick around.

“Dead Flowers” is incomplete, beginning halfway through the first verse, despite this, it’s not missed and the song boogies along at a jolly pace, shimmying along with a hellsapoppin’, good time, bartime romp to it’s side and another of Ronnie’s serpentine solos.

‘A Rock and A Hard Place’ and ‘Mixed Emotions’ are announced as “new songs”. (Feel old, eh?) and are played with the customary freshness that you’d want from tracks that are just so new. ‘Rocks ..’ bare breakdown in the middle is nicely done as is the slightly extended coda, very possibly put in place so Mick could throw out some ample dancing. ‘Mixed Emotions’, a personal favorite as it was one of the sounds of the summer growing up and the first “new” Stones song that I was aware of when my fascination for music was blossoming, has a sound that would have fit just right on “Tattoo You” but got written a few years later.

‘Little Red Rooster’, a sparse little blues bar jam sounds fantastic – this should still be the backbone of their set as ‘Blue and Lonesome’ showed, the bands legacy rests on dabbling with this kind of thing – with Mick on harp, Chuck on keys and Mick and Keef chopping simple blues licks, one or two a night would be a jem.

Keef’s mini break consists of ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and ‘Happy’. Standardised, maybe, it’ll never be a disappointment to watch or hear him do his thing and you lose nothing here. If I were forced to choose the two renditions of his that I’d want to hear live, these’d be the two.

Back to the stage, Mick delivers a hastily played and urgent ‘Paint It Black’, the focus shifting from the absent sitar to Charlie’s awesome backbone drumming. This precedes the oddly odd but rare rendition of ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, with stringent use of the wah-wah pedal, a whiny psychedelic squeal and the druggy, slump of the percussion. Thankfully it comes from the right era as goodness only knows what a late 80’s pastiche or new write of a mindbender like this might turn out as. The dramatic coda of discordant piano and ethereal atmosphere lends itself fluidly to a wigged out ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. This has some of the louder reaches of the crowd calling back out to begin with. Ronnie’s loopy, extended soloing is unrestrained and unprepared but he quickly picks up any drops and leads in to different parts as the notes flash before his mind.

‘Sympathy For The Devil’ gets the mood a little darker but blows Mick’s showmanship a little harder, the capable Lisa Fischer takes on Merry Clayton’s part with aplomb and matches some of that force perfectly, no doubt while screaming these words right back in Mick’s face.

The end comes close with a brilliant last call of stone-cold, pitch and punch classics, the type that you could pop on at a party and have people punch the air for (Lets face it, “Rape”, “Murder” don’t work at the Christmas end of year party at work unless you work in a fancy dress shop) “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” takes us back to the heady days of 1974 before the 60’s classics take us back even further. “Brown Sugar”, “Satisfaction” and “Jumping Jack Flash” take the show to it’s pinnacle.

The only thing is “Satisfaction” and the Stones uneasy relationship with arguably their biggest hit – this rendition is used as a playground for a lot of noodling and stretched out showboating. It’s one thing to have a send of, another to leap up and down and make a lot of noise without knowing what your aim is. Kind of like a kid who has been given the understudy lead role in the school play but never though they should bother to lean their lines properly. The instinct to do what’s right is there though the pressure leads to misplaced improvisation. “Jumping Jack Flash” is treated to a little more credibility and it’s extended coda is much better placed.

A nice little production from the No Label lot, very attractive if simple covers for this production once again. It wouldn’t be the jewel in your collections crown but if you’re looking for something from this year or era, I’d suggest you could do far worse.

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  1. I wanted to track down the DAC release of the 12/14/89 Montreal gig in stereo. No luck. I have it in mono from RS.


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