The CTA bus was stuck in traffic. Full of eager Stones fans tired of
reading about Mick sightings in the Chicago Tribune and ready to rack up
of their own. The pedestrians were moving faster by far toward the show at
Soldier Field. After repeated requests for the driver to open the door
failed one fan reached up, grabbed the emergency exit lever and set us free!
Ah, rebellion. The heart and soul of rock 'n' roll. At least it was some
three-and-a-half decades ago when the Rolling Stones first hit the road in
the States. Now the rock game -- at least at the level the Stones play it --
is big business. Much as U2 try, the Rolling Stones just won't let
anyone put on a higher profile, more elaborate and more successful show.
And here's how they did it as they kicked off the Bridges to Babylon tour in
The first step was just showing up. Delivering a high energy
performance, Jagger and company's mere presence was enough
to get the crowd worked up. And cranking through a two and a half hour show full
of some of the greatest rock hits of all time doesn't hurt either.
The set kicked
off with Jagger swaggering on stage to belt out "Satisfaction." The group ripped
through solid, often electrifying versions of "Ruby Tuesday," "Let's Spend the
Night Together," "Honky Tonk Woman," "Sympathy for the Devil" and plenty more.
Only two songs from the new album Bridges To Babylon -- due in stores
Tuesday -- were performed: the first single, "Anybody Seen my Baby" and
"Out of Control."
Since it was opening night, there were certainly some missed lines and
cues, as Jagger freely admitted on stage, but overall, the group delivered --
and the sold-out crowd of 54,000 (another 54,000 will see the show in Chicago
Thursday) loved it.
At one point, Jagger laughed and said, "You got da Bears and da Bulls and now
you got da Stones."
They looked great. Jagger, initially wearing a gold-spangled, turquoise-trimmed
tuxedo over a blue sequined shirt,
paraded around the stage non-stop, changing outfits after every couple
of songs. Keith Richards, wearing a three-quarter length over-the-top
leopard-skin coat, was in fine form, considering the wear and tear of drug and
The stage set featured two Thanksgiving Day parade-sized balloons, only you'll
never see the likes of these rolling down Manhattan streets on turkey day.
Huge, gold and naked inflatable women. One was on
all fours on a large pillow with a choke collar around her neck; the other
with a selection of fruit about where Adam wore his fig leaf.
The focal point, besides the band, was a tremendous speaker-shaped screen
that showed videos, movies, some rather twisted animations and
exceptionally well-produced live footage of the show itself.
The stage was flanked by two gold-painted speaker towers done-up to look
like torches. Can you say, "Pyrotechnics?" Two runways extended from
either side of the stage right up to the audience in the lower deck. Jagger
spent quite a bit of time out pressing the flesh, thrilling those within reach.
The Stones are determined to give audiences as much of an intimate, small show
feel as is possible in a stadium. So at one point they trotted out to mid-field
where there was a second stage
set up and did three songs in the round.
Since it's 1997, the Stones naturally have a new Web
site (www.the-rolling-stones.com). Visitors to the site can vote on one song each day, and the winning number is added to the
set. Jagger paused midway through the first show as the Web site was brought up
on the big screen. When he found out that "Under My Thumb" had won he said, "Oh
good. We know that one. Kind of.
I'm not sure I remember the ending though." Turning to
Richards he asked, "It's got a lot of F sharps in it, right?"
With a burst of flames from the stage, they began the two-song finale: "Start Me
Up" and "Jumping Jack
Flash." For the encore, a
solo trombone played the intro to "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which
sent the multi-generation crowd over-the-top. Then the Stones held them
there as they finished off the night with "Brown Sugar."
It was an outstanding night of rock 'n' roll.
[Wed., Sept. 24, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]