The Rolling Stones – Front Row (Golden Circle 55000)

Front Row (Golden Circle 55000)

Nagoya Dome, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan – April 5th, 2006

Disc 1 (54:40):  Opening, Jumping Jack Flash, It’s Only Rock And Roll, She’s So Cold, Oh No Not You Again, Ruby Tuesday, Rain Fall Down, You Got Me Rocking, Gimme Shelter, Tumbling Dice, Band Introductions, This Place Is Empty, Happy

Disc 2 (53:29):  Miss You, Rough Justice, Get Off My Cloud, Honky Tonk Woman, Sympathy For The Devil, Paint It Black, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones ended their five night Bigger Bang tour of Japan on April 5th before 30,000 in the Nagoya Dome in Nagoya.  Several recordings were pressed soon after the event.  Bang at the Nagoya Dome 2006 (Silverdiscs SD-6002A/B) was the first, utilizing a very good audience tape.  The most popular of the Nagoya tapes is the ALD source found on Bang In Nagoya (DAC-050-9/10). 

Front Row came out after DAC on the exclusive Golden Circle 55000 label.  Taped from the front row (hence the name), they use a different audience tape than found on Silverdiscs.  It is a very clear and enjoyable stereo DAT recording capturing the dynamics of the show very well.  Only slight distortion in very loud parts mars the recording.

The Bigger Bang tour started the previous August and except for a six week break for Christmas didn’t let up before they visited Asia.  Nagoya is a good show but ragged around the edges with signs of age and road weariness encroaching.  

It is most evident at the very start when Keith Richards completely messes up the beginning of “Jumping Jack Flash.”  They correct themselves, and deliver a good “It’s Only Rock And Roll.”  And, as he’s done ever since the Stones started touring Japan in 1990, Jagger attempts to interact with the crowd in Japanese. 

“Tsui ni kitaze, Nagoya!” (We are finally here, Nagoya!) he tells them.  Even to a non-Japanese speaker, his Japanese sounds very strange.  It sounds like Japanese spoken by a New Jersey / Italian accent with an ironic lilt on the final syllable of each sentence.  He’s been speaking that way for almost twenty years and makes one wonder if Udo-San was too polite to correct his pronunciation.  

“She’s So Cold” sounds tight but the audience don’t seem to respond to it.  But they do to “Oh No Not You Again,” which Jagger says:  “Tsugi wa shinkyoku desu (This next one is a new song).”

After “Ruby Tuesday” they play two relatively new songs back-to-back.  “Rain Fall Down” is one of the better, more pointed songs from A Bigger Bang.  Even in a live setting Jagger’s descriptive narrative is very powerful in evoking a depressing atmosphere.  And the clanging guitar tones in “You Got Me Rocking” make it stand out from the others.  

But things become perilous in the next two songs.  Both “Gimme Shelter” and “Tumbling Dice” sound rough, out of tune, and tetter on being complete disasters.  Perhaps it was an out of tune guitar, but the band introductions couldn’t come fast enough.  Keith’s two song set, “This Place Is Empty” and “Happy” fare much better as they then move to the b-stage.

The four song set starts off with a ragged “Miss You,” but is followed by a tighter “Rough Justice” (even though someone misses a cue).  The hightlight is “Get Off Of My Cloud.”  The audience clearly loves the song and sings (shouts!) the “HEY!  YOU!” part along with Jagger.

Returning to the main stage, they play two older tunes “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Paint It Black.”  The latter fares much better in the recording since the echo in the venue emphasizes its exotic arrangement.  “Brown Sugar” closes the main set, and as the band are playing at the end Jagger can be heard yelling “we’re gonna take it to Shanghai.”

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the first encore.  The song speeds up in tempo by the end, treatening to turn into a gospel beat.  And “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is the final encore, and the final song the Stones have played in Japan. 

Front Row (and its sequel Front Row II with the March 24th Tokyo show) were very limited when first released and are now very hard to find.  It was thought this would be a series of front row recordings from the golden circle (VIP seating by the stage) of all six Japan shows, but only these two were ever released. 

This recording of the Nagoya show is preferable to the inferior audience recording on Sivlerdiscs and the unbalanced ALD recording DAC uses.  Front Row is hard to find but worth seeking out to hear what is probably the final Rolling Stones concert in Japan.   

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