THE ROLLING STONES
+ THE LIVING END
Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Tuesday, April 11, 2006


By RICHARD SHARMAN

This is a little different to the type of shows I usually cover for the bar and also a lot different to most of the gigs I attend. It was no sweaty pub with a bunch of hellhounds blasting it out from a small stage – this was The Rolling Stones at a huge stadium with almost 60,000 people of all ages.

It was some distance to our seats – we were on the arena floor; there were crowd controllers everywhere and they kept telling us “keep going down the front”. I didn’t quite realise just how far down the front they meant – second row from the stage off on the left-hand side!

The playing set-up was huge – a large main stage that must have been 40 metres long, a massive video screen above the stage, two arms extending about 40 metres each way to the left and right and a runway heading out into the middle of the crowd from centre stage.

The Living End blasted out a short set – mainly featuring a hits package and their new single. Standouts were “Second Solution” and “Society” – a good fun band and Chris Cheney is certainly a gifted frontman/guitarist. However, although the crowd in the fast filling Olympic Stadium appreciated their efforts there was only one band they were here to see.

THE ROLLING STONES!

It took a while after The Living End left the stage for the lights to go down and a video featuring a broken apart tongue and a sun – then at 9 o’clock a big bang and some fireworks behind the stage then the lights were up and Keith Richards is there front and centre stage hitting the opening riff to “Jumping Jack Flash”. The crowd rose and it was on!

This wasn’t a bunch of old farts going through the motions this was a rocking band. Keith wrote the book on being a rock star and he’s still got it. He and Ronnie Wood hammed it up while trading licks – pulling out the classic guitar god poses with big shit eating grins. They played with economy and timing; there weren’t too many wasted notes at all – speaking of timing Charlie Watts behind the drum kit was a wonder to behold; he was rock solid all night with his trademark economy, his metronome like beat and that little swing and swagger that defines the great drummers from the also rans. Then there is Mick Jagger; strutting, pouting, marshalling both his troops and the crowd, running from one end of the huge stage to the other and all the while belting out those classic Stones songs.

The band had hit its stride from the first chord and they just kept it coming – classic after classic Stones songs; “Let's Spend The Night Together”, “You Got Me Rocking” a new one before Mick left the stage and Keith took on vocal duties for a show stopping rendition of “Dead Flowers”.

Mick came back on stage and the lads strode through three more Stones anthems “Angie”, “It’s only Rock and Roll” and “Tumblin’ Dice”. At this point Mick announced a tribute to the late Ray Charles and the band launch into stirring rendition of “Night Time is The Right Time” and is joined on lead vocals by the female backup singer Lisa ? who brought the house down with her time in the limelight – that girl can sing!

It was then through a couple more before Mick bounces out with a Fender Stratocaster slung around his neck and a headphone mic on his head; it was then straight into a flawless version of “Miss You”. The band then gathered in front of Charlie’s drum kit and the whole centre stage detached itself and headed down the centre runway into the middle of the Stadium. Mick hit the falsetto notes to perfection then is was into more classic Stones material; “Get off My Cloud” and “Honky Tonk Woman” as the stage returned to its rightful place.

The show was really starting to fire now; then came the icing on the cake; “Paint it Black”, “Sympathy for the Devil” and then “Start Me Up” – the crowd went nuts at this stage.

They finished off their set with “Brown Sugar” and then left the stage.

It wasn’t long though until they returned with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” complete with crowd sing-along and then Keith kicked off the opening riff to “Satisfaction” and fluffed it; I think he must have started the riff in the wrong key. I don’t think too many in the crowd noticed but it was the only error I noticed in the two hour performance. They were quickly back into the groove with 58,000 fans aged from under ten well into their seventies singing along with Mick “I can’t get know… Satisfaction!” truly a fantastic moment.

The band grabbed their backup vocalists, horn section and keyboard player to the front of stage where they all took a bow before leaving the Keith, Ronnie, Charlie and Mick alone at the front of stage bowing before an adoring crowd.

I don’t know if The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock and roll band in the world, there are many bands I hold nearer and dearer to my heart than the Stones but to see them in full flight pumping out so many classic songs (not to mention Keith Richards playing the solo from “Sympathy for the Devil” right in front of me) was definitely one of those rare life experiences that I will remember to the end of my days.

Setlist for the Rolling Stones, Sydney, 11 April 2006

Jumping Jack Flash
Let's Spend The Night Together
You Got Me Rocking
Oh No Not You Again
Dead Flowers
Angie
It's Only Rock And Roll
Tumblin' Dice
Night Time Is The Right Time
The Place Is Empty
Happy
Miss You
Rough Justice
Get Off My Cloud
Honky Tonk Woman
Paint It Black
Sympathy
Start Me Up
Brown Sugar

Can't Always Get What You Want
Satisfaction

 

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