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Rolling Stones, Madison Square Garden, NYC: Let’s spend the night together January 18, 2006

Posted by Anton A in British music, Rolling Stones.
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The Stones always seem to bring their best game to Madison Square Garden.  They mixed up the setlist quite nicely from last September’s show at Giants Stadium:

Jumping Jack Flash, Let’s Spend The Night Together, Oh No Not You Again, Love Is Strong, Rocks Off, Worried About You, Rain Fall Down, Midnight Rambler, Tumbling Dice, Gimme Shelter, Empty Without You, Happy

small stage:

Miss You, Rough Justice, Get Off My Cloud, Honky Tonk Women

main stage:

Sympathy For The Devil, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar

encores:

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Satisfaction.

They were really on all night.  Jagger was grinning at the end of virtually every song, it seemed obvious that he knew they were nailing one after another.  (Me, I was grinning too for two hours straight, there is just nothing like a good Stones show.)  Keith was really focused – for once he didn’t turn the opening chords to Brown Sugar into a pile of mush.  When he hit the first chords to You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and then did a little duet with the trombone player – man, chills down the spine.  They got the tempo for Gimme Shelter just right – you know how sometimes they rush it and the drama gets lost, but they kept it slow and milked it for all it’s got.

Of course there were some sloppy moments; the tempo transitions in Midnight Rambler were messy, as they often are, but somehow it doesn’t seem to matter much once they find the groove. 

Toward the end of Satisfaction, Ronnie’s tremolo bar came off in his hand.  Surprised the hell out of him.  Apparently not quite knowing what to do, he used it to play a few bars of slide, then tossed it backstage.  A few seconds later a tech ran out with it (or a new one?) and somehow reattached it, but his guitar was out of tune for the rest of the song.  I don’t know why he didn’t just switch guitars.  Stuff happens.

Love Is Strong, Rocks Off and Worried About You were terrific surprises.  Jagger sold each one to the hilt, belting the falsetto parts of Worried About You with astonishing strength while playing the keys.  His harmonica work on Love Is Strong and of course Midnight Rambler was dazzling.  There’s no hint that his performance is anywhere near a downhill slide at this point; his stagecraft is still the best there is.

Early in the show Jagger said something about, “Glad to be back in New York, we were talking backstage and this is as close to home as it gets for us.”  A bit later he plugged their upcoming Super Bowl gig by saying, “The network was a bit concerned about what we’re going to do, but I told them not to worry, I was going to show both of my tits, no problem.”  He got the laugh.

This tour, the Stones make you believe again that this is the best rock & roll show ever.  There are few other acts that can keep the entire Garden, not just the floor seats, on its collective feet for two hours. 

I was so pumped, I checked repeatedly for tix to the Friday show, but there were no cheap ones, alas.  On Friday, for the rarities segment, they did Sway, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, and As Tears Go By.  They also replaced Start Me Up with Paint It Black, and worked a verse of Mustang Sally into Satisfaction.  Damn!  Bring on the Super Bowl!

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