The Rolling Stones, “Pinkpop On Fire” (Rattlesnake RS 264/65)
Recorded at Pinkpop Festival, Landgraaf, The Netherlands, June 7th, 2014
Disk One: Intro / Jumpin’ Jack Flash / You Got me Rockin’ / It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It) / Tumbling Dice / Angie / Doom And Gloom
Rocks Off (Song Vote Winner) / Out Of Control / Honky Tonk Women / You Got The Silver (with Keith on lead vocals) / Can’t Be Seen (with Keith on lead vocals)
Disk Two: Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor on guitar) / Miss You / Gimme Shelter / Start Me Up / Sympathy For The Devil / Brown Sugar / You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with the Dekoor Close-Harmony Choir) / (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (with Mick Taylor)
The Rolling Stones 50 and counting tour was promoted in Europe by the bands first appearances at several high profile outdoor festivals. Glastonbury at Piltdown Farm in England was the first of the bunch, Promoters Michael and Emily Evis managing to secure the band for a highfalutin performance, Michael having had the band in his sights since the inception of the festival in 1970. The following year, the big news was the band had been secured by the Pinkpop festival, Holland’s answer to Britain’s biggest and best loved festival, the Dutch outing was established in the same year and holds the same regard in Europe as it’s English countryside cousin. A few eyebrows would have raised at the news as Charlie, most famously, isn’t a fan of these outdoor shows.
The Rattlesnake label are the winners at outsourcing a tape for this show, seemingly the No Label lot, Eat A Peach or their ilk thought the effort worth it or got their own tapes together for this prestigious show. This audience recording, while not comparable to the satellite feed that was obtained from the BBC’s Glastonbury broadcast and despite the fact that festival shows are notoriously hard to capture is a very healthy sounding tape from a little further back from the speakers, so no crunch or splintering from the music, there is a little muffling from time to time as the mic catches the wind or material which it’s pinned to so it’s to a degree as to whether you can field it out. The audience are certainly audible but all being good music fans, they can at least clap on time and know the words. Reports are that the label sourced an existing internet upload for this release – It may be true but it was certainly a great choice of recordings from this concert.
The set list changes from the standard ’50 and Counting’ standards as the Stones drop in a few rarities – ‘You Got Me Rockin” for one is appreciated and sounds like a breath of fresh air through the standards. Afterwards Mick tries out his very best Dutch – goodness knows where that accents from as it might be German or Jamaican, a tough language to master if you haven’t got the tongue really so full marks for trying.
‘Tumbling Dice’ finds Mick catching up with his words at the beginning, once he catches his breath though, things are a little plain sailing again. Even ‘Angie’ sounds good in the summer air, ballads are generally not fodder for festival time but one thats as deeply engraved in to the psyche as initials in a tree is always going to win.
‘Doom and Gloom’ for all it’s tawdry millennialness sounds pretty good at this point. Maybe it’s the compulsion of hiring it so many times that the brain begins to think it’s a lost gem – then 8 years old, it’s still their last, latest promotional vehicle. until the new album, this is about the sum of the parts that make up late era Stones!
Tonight’s voted for track is ‘Rocks Off’, the Exile track that you can’t get enough of, a slackers requiem, a sweaty, debauched ditty. Mick takes the lead on this one as it’s nearly Keef’s turn to sing. Mick jokes that the band might not know the track before they start, once they finish, he coyly claims that they had rehearsed it in one of the tents on the field.
‘Out Of Control’ usually gets as much of an airing as your copy of ‘Dirty Work’ but as a middle set, festival curiosity, it works quite nicely if you can imagine the sun on your back and the sweet smell of the coffee shop, it has a gloriously lazy verve to it. Mick’s harp doesn’t generally get that much work either as a rule so to get two solos in one song is nice to hear too.
Keith announces ‘You Got The Silver’ in his customary drawl, just like ‘Out Of Control’ it has a lazy, laidback, sunset feel to it. Nice to hear that Mick’s not the only one who’s voice hasn’t deteriorated with age either, it might not be as wide or as strong as Mick’s ever was but certainly no-one would turn down the chance to hear Keith sing. That being said infortunatley, ‘Can’t Be Seen’ isn’t the highpoint of the night, rather too insipid to really capture the momentum even Ronnie’s soloing isn’t going to bring this track to peoples attentions. Maybe there’s the reason it’s at the end of disk one.
Disk two begins with an extended warm up – for some reason, Mick Taylor’s introduction has been clipped – Surely there was one? – and we’re straight in to ‘Midnight Rambler’, a gutsy, loooong, version that, once again wraps coils round itself, grooving quickly, slowly, quickly again, were it not for that third guitarist though we might not get the frisson that barrels it along.
After ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘Gimmie Shelter’ sounds a little middling, a tad lazy if anything, Even Lisa’s vocals don’t do anything to lift a slightly listless version and while it’s not a bad version or the worst, it does drag a little towards the end and once it starts to tail a little in form, it then limps along for two extra minutes.
‘Start Me Up’ is much more to the Dutch favour, it actually starts to get a little more exciting from here on in too, maybe its the riff that gets them but the band sound like they spring to life again, this formula doesn’t naturally continue through, ‘Sympathy For Devil’ though, and even though Chuck’s opening notes, the splicing sound of the drums and congo beat, while the crowd latch on and holler back the rhythm and Keith’s powerful chords run up as the action starts to ramp up. Things go wrong in the middle and continue towards the end – A quick thinking Charlie notices before it all goes completely pear shaped however and with a forceful thump, brings the band to a halt. ‘Brown Sugar’ fares better with fewer blemishes to it’s lunge and while it extends itself, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Come the end of the set, the final two tracks as encore; ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘Satisfaction’, standardised set closers both, the former comes with help from the Dekoor close-harmony choir, thankfully the band manage to make a great fist of it all, Ronnie’s soloing is demure but effective, quietly playing emphasis to the rest but making a mark where it needs, it closes to two endings, the first is the natural ending, the second a comedic, good time jam that the band pally around with. ‘Satisfaction’, well, you know how it sounds, we lose Keith’s guitar on the wind at first so it sounds a tiny bit tinny at points and while it’s not the worst soloing from the guitarist, he has sounded stronger.
A very nice effort by the Rattlesnake label to capture this festival premier, granted we’re spoiled by the afore mentioned Glastonbury recording but for the effort of the band in throwing in a few oldies, a solid recording from a festival and the usual RS packaging including liner notes and full colour pictures, this set deserves a place in your collection.