"Who Needs Security? The Stones Still Got The Goods"
By Jeff Berman
Once you are able to forget about those ridiculously priced tickets and all the hype and $45 tour shirts which shrink almost immediately after trying it on, try to focus on all the good things about seeing the "World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" perform-namely the Rolling Stones.
I was fortunate enough (through the good graces of a certain friend) to see the Stones kick down for their 1999 "No Security" tour at the FleetCenter in Boston on Monday, March 22, and let me tell you-they did not disappoint. Having seen the band in 1989, while a freshman in college, during the Steel Wheels Tour, in support of the album of the same name, the Stones seemed to rush through their repertoire, and while the show was solid overall, it lacked consistency. Fast-forward ten years later to the current tour and it's a whole new ball game. Consistency and poise were prevalent throughout this gem of a musical outing, which clearly showed while the Rolling Stones are a band others have been influenced by and emulated for over thirty years and also why their live act is debatably second to none.
The band didn't waste any time kicking things into high gear. The familiar chords of "Jumping Jack Flash" came out like a bolt of lightning and the foundation for the evening was clearly established. Frontman Mick Jagger (The 'Uncle' of Rock and Roll) and lead guitarist Keith Richards donned sunglasses and appeared to be ready for business, which they clearly were. I hadn't been following the tour at all, in terms of setlists or anything like that, but when the band segued in "Bitch," from 1978's "Sticky Fingers," I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised and/or thrilled. "Bitch" led into a newer tune called "You Got Me Rocking," and it was evident the band was having a grand old time. Ronnie Wood and Keith were trading riffs back and forth, and the bass of Bill Wyman's replacement, Darryl Jones, was thumping in perfect cohesion with drummer Charlie Watts and keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
As the music continued, the Stones slipped into "So Respectable," from "Voodoo Lounge," which gave Mick an opportunity to show off some of his finer turns, wiggles, and struts. Next up was an exhilarating "Honky Tonk Woman," which aimed to please as it clearly did. Keith helped out Leavell on the keyboards, and the Boston audience clearly loved it. "Memory Motel" was served up next, and I nearly couldn't believe what I was hearing, but I ate it up. Hearing Keith belt out "She got a mind of her own and she use it well. She got a mind of her own, and she use it so fine," made me realize how fortunate I was to be a part of this show. "Memory Motel," along with "Bitch," are two songs I never thought I would see the Stones perform live, yet they were both in the first seven tunes of the evening. "Memory Motel" moved into an excellent rendition of one of my favorite newer Stones' tunes, "Saint of Me," and was followed by a thrilling "Some Girls," the title track of one of the most underrated Stones' albums ever. Mick was like a man possessed as he slinked all over the stage and gave it up for everyone to enjoy. "Paint It Black" was next, and for being a huge Stones' hit, it didn't quite match up with what had already been played so far.
As if "Memory Motel," "Bitch," and "Some Girls" weren't enough, Keith laid down "You Got The Silver" from "Let It Bleed." Prior to beginning, Keith noted, "Before This Tour, I hadn't played this in 25 years." He could have fooled me. "Silver" was truly special from beginning to end, with Keith waxing on the slide and Watts and the rest of the crew took care of the rest. A real treat. Another Keith classic, "Before They Make Me Run," followed, which led into an energetic "No Coming Down."
The real treat was then to come. For the people, like me, who were way up in nosebleed seating, there was a "B" stage set roughly two-thirds of the way down the floor, which the band got to via an elevated walkway in the middle of the floor, exchanging high fives with the audience. A classic "Route 66" got the ball rolling and helped everyone "get their kicks." "When The Whip Comes Down" followed and featured Mick doing his best job at throwing down some licks on guitar. "Midnight Rambler" was next and with the Boston historic significance (about Boston Strangler Albert DiSalvo), it was extra special. "Jagger belted out "You heard about the Boston Strangler. Honey, it's not one of those," and its impact reverberated throughout the less-than-intimate FleetCenter.
Once back to the main stage, the band ripped into "Tumbling Dice," and the feel good rhythm and harmonies made me realize just how capable this band is of taking their talents to a different level whenever they are so inclined. The final three tunes of the show (prior to the encore) were fast and furious and it left me not wanting it to end. "Start Me Up" came out hard and powerful and didn't let up, as they went into a rousing "It's Only Rock and Roll," followed by "Brown Sugar."
The band then left the stage, with the crowd begging for more. The echoes and familiar drum beat of "Sympathy for the Devil" ensued and then the "Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a man of wealth of taste." A perfect way to end the evening.
Timeless. That's what this band is. It seems like they have been doing this forever (since the early 1960's anyhow). The Rolling Stones are a band, which ranks up there with anyone. The "No Security Tour" showed they clearly aren't doing it for the heavy dough-they are doing it because they still can do it and do it well.