The Rolling Stones – New Jersey 1994 2nd Night (No Label)
DVD (Pro-Shot Colour NTSC Approx. 88 min.): Opening, Introduction, Not Fade Away, Tumbling Dice, You Got Me Rocking, Shattered, Rocks Off, Sparks Will Fly, Satisfaction, Out Of Tears, Miss You, Honky Tonk Women, The Worst, Monkey man, Start me Up, It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll, Street Fighting Man, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash, After The Show.
CD (79 min.): Same tracklist as DVD except no audio of the film’s “Opening” or “After The Show” segments.
Live at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA, 14th, August, 1994.
If you consider, as I do, the Rolling Stones’ “Voodoo Lounge” period to be both their best album and tour of the last 20 years, then the new CD/DVD combo package, “New Jersey 1994 2nd Night,” will likely strike you as it does me: a nice souvenir and a satisfying (if incomplete) strut down memory lane to an inspired, loose and loud August night in 1994. I should know because I was there. And this show sounds and looks as good now as it was back then.
Whereas the 1989-90 “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” world tour was a ruthlessly tight and crisply choreographed affair (and the first time I had ever seen the Stones live), one of the major appeals of the “Voodoo Lounge” tour and album, for me, was that they both had more of a classic Stones feel; a bit more room and life: swaggering and self-assured; considerably raunchier and riff-oriented; with more elbow room for stretching out, laying back, and strolling across the promenade of our collective sense-memories of the Stones in our lives.
This “no-name label” release, as we’ve come to call them, gets just about everything right with a very professional, official-looking and sounding package, starting with the full-color front and back inserts and inlay with correct tour font and photographs; a limited edition “Voodoo Lounge” spiked tongue sticker; and even a mini reproduction order form for tour merchandise (offer good until March 31, 1995; dang, missed the deadline to get that Stones flight jacket by only19 years!).
Onto the nitty gritty of the contents: the sound, stem to stern, is splendid, with both the DVD and CD having been sourced from a crisp stereo soundboard recording and officially released VHS video capturing the Stones’ August 14, 1994 show at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (the second of the band’s four night-stand at the venue).
As with the audio CD, the DVD (transferred, presumably, from the official VHS) boasts a full, warm, and richly balanced sound spectrum; features pro-shot, multi-camera angles and vantage points; and offers a variety of perspectives that bring us close to the individual players on stage. The DVD sports an easy and straightforward song-selection menu and, as with the old VHS document, includes an amusing opening vignette depicting a Stones roadie’s morning-after-groupie-conquest realization that he’s late for the show, plus an after-show, back-of-the-limo verite clip of the boys de-compressing as they speed away from the venue and back to the hotel.
In between those bookends, there’s a lot to love. The fireworks start early – both figuratively and literally – moments after frontman Mick Jagger makes a dramatic entrance, popping up on stage (again, literally) from an underground elevator/trap door, prefaced by the rattle of tribal drums that morphs into a familiar Bo Diddley beat. Boom! Wearing a long, flowing leopard skin pattern coat, despite this being August in New Jersey, and as trimly commanding as ever, Mick wags a finger at the crowd and announces prophetically: “I’m gonna tell ya how it’s gonna be, you’re gonna give your love to me.” It’s the oldie but goodie “Not Fade Away,” of course, but it’s also the order of the evening.
After a wailing harmonica solo and the song’s conclusion, Mick gives guitarist Keith Richards a sly, sideways grin that’s full of knowing and schoolboy mischief. I remember seeing that exact same grin up there on the huge video screen and flashing back instantly to those magic moments when Jagger threw fellow mischief-making ex-schoolboy Keith Richards the same expression in the “Ladies & Gentlemen” film. Yes, it is going to be a good night, I recall thinking. A limber, lived-in “Tumbling Dice,” which comes next and sounds very much in the spirit of the original, bears out my belief and hope.
Still only two songs in, the band laces into an energized “You Got Me Rocking,” which, for better or worse, would become a set staple on future tours. It’s perhaps telling how confident the Stones felt about the “Voodoo Lounge” material that “YGMR” is one of seven new album tracks the Stones were performing on this tour; by my estimation, that’s the highest total of tracks debuted and played regularly from a new Stones album since 1978’s classic “Some Girls” LP.
Elsewhere, Jagger invests the album’s big ballad, “Out Of Tears,” with something approximating sincerity and yearning, and with just the right amount of sour amid the sweet mix of melody and Chuck Leavell’s signature piano.
Unfortunately, this package omits two of the strongest “Voodoo Lounge” tracks played on this night: “I Go Wild,” a sleazy pleasure of vice and leisure; and the album’s first single, “Love Is Strong” (my favorite track on the record, despite – or perhaps because – its spooky music and imagery are a shadowy rewrite of 1973’s “Dancing With Mr. D”). But with both the audio and video clocking in at just under 90 minutes – and clearly, the decision was made to keep the audio portion of this package at one rather than two CD’s – this title, out of necessity, surgically removes no less than seven songs from the two-plus hour set list played that night. Ouch.
In addition to the aforementioned “Voodoo” tracks, the program is missing “Beast Of Burden”; “Wild Horses”; “All Down The Line”; a tasty cover of soul icon Al Green’s “Can’t Get Next To You”; and “Happy.” The last omission is perhaps the most missed because I’d choose it any day as “The Keith Song” to include here, rather than the torpid crawl of “The Worst,” which saps some of the show’s momentum.
For completists who want to seek them out, there have been at least two prior releases of this show in its complete form issued as double-disc sets: first in 1995 by the Japanese label Vinyl Gang Product (VGP) as “Bite The Big Apple,” and more recently by The Godfather Records as “Welcome To The Voodoo Lounge.” Additionally, there have been several earlier DVD releases of the no-label version we get here (none appear to exist of the complete show), also sourced from the same official VHS tape. This new “New Jersey 1994 2nd Night” release does, however, mark the first time (as far as I can tell) that both the CD and DVD have been available in one place as a set.
And despite its truncated form, this title does contain a handful of deeper-cut sonic treasures. The sinewy, shape-shifting “Monkey Man” from 1969’s “Let It Bleed,” for instance, makes its live debut on this tour. Here, Jagger delivers a sassy, steamy duet with (cue Mick’s introductory descriptor to which we cannot disagree) “luscious” longtime backing vocalist Lisa Fischer, while Richards and fellow guitar foil Ronnie Wood do their cross-cut, bob-and-weave guitar thing with greasy aplomb.
“Shattered” hasn’t always made the transition to the stage all that successfully, but here it carries much of its quivery, nervy studio spunk before its brain splatters into a rollicking “Rocks Off,” which, by the way, marks the first time I’ve ever actually clearly heard the line “she comes every time she pirouettes on me.” (Mick did begin enunciating his syllables much more clearly around the time he hit 45 and started doing all those pre-tour wind sprints – and quite possibly started reading his lyrics on-stage from a Teleprompter. Coincidence? Obsessives, discuss amongst yourselves).
I remember well the roaring, ecstatic reception “Rocks Off” got from the throng when Mick casually introduced it by saying “we got one from the Exile On Main Street album” and Keef hit the opening riff. “Omigod! They’re doing ‘Rocks Off!” I shouted into my best friend’s unfortunate ear, disbelieving and delirious (and quite possibly a wee bit buzzed from the massive cooler of beer we smuggled into the stadium parking lot in the truck of our car).
Now, as we all know, that hallowed number is pretty much a staple of Stones tour set lists these days. But up to that point in 1994 and aside from one aberrant Baton Rouge, Louisiana date on the Stones’ 1975 “Tour of The Americas,” the deeper-cut “Exile” track had not been performed regularly live since the band toured Europe back in 1973. That had been a very long time ago, in a place far, far away that – for fans like me, born ten years too late – only existed as a live entity on my precious bootleg recordings. And here it was, an excavated diamond from the mines, glinting in the lights.
Like Frankenstein’s ancient and long-moldering monster, it had been brought to electric life, freshly resuscitated, revived via voodoo, and heated by the glorious glow of the moment. Now, twenty years after that exhilarating night at Giants Stadium with good friends now scattered like stones but still held dear, and with that electrifying moment now itself consigned to a long ago time, here it is again: “Rocks Off” and the rest in stereo sound and full color, still glowing, and still dancing in the light. Us too.