The Rolling Stones – Vienna 1976 (No Label)

The Rolling Stones, “Vienna 1976”

Recorder 1 – Disc 1 / Introduction / Honky Tonk Women / If You Can’t Rock Me – Get Off Of My Cloud / Hand Of Fate / Hey Negrita / Ain’t Too Proud To Beg / Fool To Cry / Hot Stuff / Star Star / You Gotta Move / You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Disc 2 – Band Introductions / Happy / Tumbling Dice / Nothing From Nothing / Outa Space / Midnight Rambler / It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll / Brown Sugar / Jumping Jack Flash / Street Fighting Man
Recorder 2 – Disc 3 / Hey Negrita / Ain’t Too Proud To Beg / Fool To Cry / Hot Stuff / Star Star / You Gotta Move / You Can’t Always Get What You Want / Band Introductions / Happy / Tumbling Dice / Nothing From Nothing / Outa Space / Midnight Rambler / It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll / Brown Sugar / Jumping Jack Flash / Street Fighting Man (part)

Live at Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria, 23rd June, 1976.

Like a child skidding along to a halt on the back wheels of their new bike in a flourish of stone chips and dust, the Stones completed their European tour in a flush with a grandiose show in Vienna. This would be their farewell to touring in the long hot summer, finally punctuated with a final, celebrated show at Knebworth, putting their hoofmark down as Rock’s reining emperors.

This particular show – Captured by at least two, maybe three, separate tapers that we know of – is presented with a great overview here. A Triple CD clamshell cased set featuring the best captures of this gig. The first – And longest – a semi distance from the stage in monaural sound (And a little light remastering from the torrent), the band are still loud and clear enough to hear, just enough of each member (Though we’re a little short on bass and Ronnie’s participation is muted in comparison to Keef’s), the audience participation like a light rain on glass – Audible but not too severe that they obliterate any of the work on stage, though more obvious on the quieter tracks. Most importantly, no cuts ensuring a full show. This show has previously appeared on “Happy for You (EXCD-016/17)”.  The second, just as welcoming, shorter maybe and a tiny little more distant in parts but this time in stereo – It’s actually two sources that have been chopped together lightly – the ‘third’ just seems to have crept out, while the main or second source appears on “End of Europe EXILE [EXCD-023/024] & “Tour of Europe ’76” (Blue Danube Records RST 761/762) and has now been used on this disk in it’s brushed up best.

It’s a great gig, the band are warmed up nicely, Billy Preston, their guest, providing the shot in the arm that the band required for a little more juice. And there are highlights a plenty – The raucous version of ‘If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud’, a toothsome rendition of ‘Hand Of Fate’ with a buzzy solo in the middle. A romping ‘Hey Negrita’ that choogles along with that brilliant 70’s party vibe and some classic howls by Jagger. ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ has some of that fantastic call and response between Mick and Billy Preston.

‘Fool To Cry’ sounds like an odd attachment to the concert after this clutch of raucous jams, for those that needed it, it was a great reason to run to the bar (Maybe that’s why the audience cheer so much?), though it does receive a very well rounded response from those on the floor.
Ramping up the disco element, ‘Hot Stuff’ immediately has the crowd clapping, slapping and stomping and there’s no let up. A liquid solo by new boy Ronnie zips straight through the middle though you might need dog ears to pick it up well enough, ‘Star Star’ does the same, an immediacy that grabs the audience and lifts them straight in to the Stones debauched world. An extended, wild coda does the business as Charlie stands above and owns the stage as the rest of the band follow his command.

‘You Gotta Move’ drops the pace again but in that mesmerizing way that the Stones blues does, there is a persistent clap from the audience that runs the way through (Somewhat easier when you can keep time at a more restrained time), the second part brings Billy back in to duet with Jagger which pinches things up another level. ‘YCAGWYW’ draws one of the biggest applauses of the night, running at nigh on ten minutes long it skips from guitar solo to drum solo, Mick getting more and more feverish as the song strides to it’s glitter-in -the-wind conclusion. After a short introduction, Keith bashes through a steaming, ‘Happy’ which sounds like, if you were to wind it tight enough, it might fly through the roof.

Tonights ‘Midnight Rambler’ runs over 13 minutes long, the atmosphere makes the first few harp notes sound like a Dylan concert before the dirty steel saw guitar chords chime in. From then on in, all hell breaks loose and the tempo builds under steam and gets more and more manic, building in swathes to a couple of peaks where, while Keith and Ronnie duel, Charlie beats them apart with rapid fire authority.
Once they drop, Jagger builds the howls with blood-curdling consistency, letting out a scream that that chills.
Before the tempo drops and stretches and Mick’s ‘Oh, yeahs!’ give way to a menacing prowl approach before the final accent in to freeform madness.

‘It’s Only Rock And Roll’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ are all standard to the set list – Some of the meanest, dirtiest, foulest rock you’ll ever have the pleasure to hear – the latter segues nicely in to a ebullient ‘Street Fighting Man’, were Ronnie’s guitar a little higher in the mix, it would be even better.

The second recorder captures the tracks from ‘Hey Negrita’ to the first third of ‘Street Fighting Man’, missing out on some of these tracks doesn’t mean that we loose much, the sound being pretty much the same would mean that even if this was a two disk set, we’d miss nothing, however, your collection is mercifully complete.

Packaged in a fat-boy triple jewel-case with well designed if basic covers, this is a nice set to own from this tour as Ronnie finds his own, bringing his own co-writes with him. While not essential to own, the Stones completist will be very happy with this and fans who are dabbling with a collection will find this set in their top 30, bearing repeat listening.

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