Welcome To Australia (Vinyl Gang Product VGP-110)
Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, AU – February 27th, 1973
(75:16): Brown Sugar, Bitch, Rocks Off, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Love In Vain, Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Midnight Rambler, Band lntroductions, Little Queenie, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The Rolling Stones first trip Down Under since 1966 ended with two sold-out performances at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on February 26th and 27th. This “dog of a venue” (according to Jenny Brown reviewing the show in The Digger) held more than 25,000 fans on a sweltering summer night.
Several previous titles to feature the recording are Sydney Last Affair (Picaresque Records PS-001), Slippy Slippy Slipper (Shaved Disc TSD 001), Wizards of O.Z. (Fire Power FP-01), the second disc of All Meat Music / All You Can Eat Winter Tour 1973 (VGP-055), Back Strap Jacket (Tarantura TCDRS-3-1,2), and Sydney, Royal Randwick Racecourse 02-26-1973 (Stoneage Music 009).
Welcome To Australia is Vinyl Gang’s second effort with this tape. Initially released in 1998, it is much longer and better sounding than VGP-055. It is such a superb release that Vinyl Gang came out with the fourth edition in 2011, with remastering done to improve the channel separation especially between the two guitarists. Like the other Australian tapes, it is a raw which tends to favor the bass and piano. It presents a different view of the music compared to good audience tapes.
Brown states in her review that “the Stones have played so many bloody concerts by now that it’s the crowd who makes or breaks a show, and although audiences all over have the tendency to feel it’s all a movie (and it does look like that) for the first few numbers, both Sydney crowds got off their backsides and stayed off them, and they were big, and there was boogie all round the nucleus of the stage. So, the band cooked a little hotter than they had in Melbourne (Jagger sassy in a new night-sky blue ‘fit), and they played ‘Little Queenie’ instead of ‘Johnny B. Goode’; but underneath the creamy, the pie was still much the same – sweet Stones well-spiked spunk from their three latest albums.”
Brown goes on to say how the 5,000 ping pong balls, painted orange, blue and yellow, were showered on the audience during “Street Fighting Man” and how the volume of the music and audiences scared the stabled race horses close by.
The tape begins with Jagger’s “all right” before the opening notes of “Brown Sugar.” It sounds heavy and ponderous as it crawls across the stage. And things lighten up considerably with fast versions of “Bitch” and “Rocks Off.”
“It’s lovely to see you all tonight, really beautiful! How’ya doing? Alright??” Jagger says as he greets the audience before another heavy performance of “Gimme Shelter.” The tape emphasizes nicely the buzz saw quality of the guitars. They act as a counterpoint to the apocalyptic lyrics in the song’s narrative.
Keith Richards comes up to sing “Happy” and they follow with another Exile On Main Street song “Tumbling Dice.” These energetic songs are followed by the “slow” set with “Love In Vain” and a humorous version of “Sweet Virginia.”
“See me coming apart here” Jagger quips. “We’re gonna do one to make you cry” before “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Mick Taylor delivers another long, emotional guitar solo. Something has Jagger in fits, laughing as he tries to sing the final verse.
It apparently rains a bit during “All Down The Line.” Jagger complains about how slippery it is up on stage, saying it’s more slippery than a slipper. “Midnight Rambler” is, after “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the second long epic of the night. Instead of the good feelings and joy of the former, is particularly violent and nasty. The guitar duel between Taylor and Richards reaches such intensity that Jagger has to do Indian calls to break the tension.
Jagger thanks the “banana benders” and “sand gropers” before introducing the band. “Jumping Jack Flash” and a wild performance of “Street Fighting Man” (with Jagger merely humming the lyrics it seems) finish off their tour of Australia.
Welcome To Australia is packaged in a standard jewel case with very thick and glossy paper used for the inserts. The front photograph is, incongruously, taken from the “It’s Only Rock N Roll” photo-shoot later in the year and has nothing to do with the Australian tour or Exile On Main Street. Nevertheless, this is the best version available of this show and, like all the Australian soundboards, is a good show to have.