rolling stones msg 1975Flashback


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The Rolling Stones live at the MSG 1975
Updated on June 22, 2023

June 22, 1975: Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY, USA
Honky Tonk Women/All Down The Line/If You Can’t Rock Me-Get Off Of My Cloud/Star Star/Gimme Shelter/Ain’t Too Proud To Beg/You Gotta Move/You Can’t Always Get What You Want/Band introduction/ Happy/Tumbling Dice/It’s Only Rock’n Roll/Heartbreaker/Fingerprint File/Angie/Wild Horses/That’s Life/Outa Space/Brown Sugar/Midnight Rambler/Rip This Joint/Street Fighting Man/Jumping Jack Flash/Sympathy For The Devil
*With special guests Eric Clapton and The Steel Association on ‘Sympathy For The Devil’

From the New York Times:
The Rolling Stones, whose Tour of the Americas ’75 settled into Madison Square Garden last night for the first show in a six‐night, run, had suggested that their performances in New York and Los Angeles would be far fancier than their road shows. Certainly the absence of an announced opening act and the premium prices (more than $3 over the tour average top) “suggested spectacular theatrics and a marathon song selection here.

But as it happened, the stage wasn’t all that different from the road‐show version, for all its 15 extra tons, and the one special effect that really meant something, at the very end, was more humanistic and conceptual than the product of mechanistic theatrical wizardry.
The concert as a whole was neither the firm and final proof that the Stones are washed up nor the greatest pop‐music concert in the history of creation. It was just Wonderful rock ‘n’ roll.
(Ref. madison square garden 1975)

The differences up to the end were these: Instead of a static, 10‐ton wooden stage, there was a 25‐ton steelframed, silver‐backed model. When deployed, it assumed the same six‐pointed lotus??ower shape as before, but it was capable of folding up; once unfolded, however, it remained pretty much fixed throughout. The stage is Whiter here, and has nice neon bordering that flashes on periodically. The ceiling of the Garden is festooned With flickering blue lights strung Christmas‐tree fashion; hundreds of hanging gauze leaves had been reMoved as ineffective before the show began.
Special effects were the same as on the road, except for a rather perilous‐looking, gymnastic swing by Mick Jagger out over the crowd during the second of Billy Preston’s two songs.

The song selection was much as before, as well, until the very end. There had been no songs previously unrecorded, and, until the end, Only one addition—“Heartbreaker”—from after the tour’s first week. The basic set lasted, as usual, just over two hours—no longer than on the road.
The principal differences from the first week were two, and both had to do with the polishing and perfecting that go on during any extended tour—or at least go on when as the Stones do, the band cares deeply about what it is doing.
(Ref. madison square garden 1975)

The Stones and Mr. Jagger are at their best playing at the edge of irony. When things get too blunt, too obvious, their art loses its multidimensionality. Last night the phallic balloon looked more obvious than ever,‐ Mr. Jagger’s mugging pouts to the audience while he wasn’t singing seemed crude; the melodramatics of “Fingerprint File” seemed more stagey for their very slickness of execution: and the set piece that “Midnight Rambler” has long since become lacked spontaneity, at least visually. And that isn’t even to speak of Billy Preston’s two songs, which remain as artificial and out of place in a Stones concert as they did from the first.

But the biggest differences between the first road shows and last night had to do with the songs themselves. For this listener, the level of raw excitement was down a hit from the high points during the first week — maybe the band felt constrained by the new stage or by the first night in New York. But what was fascinating was the way that songs that had been in the shows from the very beginning had been subtly reworked and, almost invariably, improved.

Thus “Get Off of My Cloud” had settled into firm shape. “Gimme Shelter,” which had been pretty much an unfocused blur during the first week, sounded as subtle and pointed as on the record. “You Gotta Move” had an instrumental restatement appended to the original vocal quartet (now quintet) with guitar solo. There were offbeat falsetto “ooh’s” from Mr. Jagger during “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” And so forth — none of them enormous differences, perhaps, but cumulatively an indication of the way these men care about their music.

The scene outside the Garden two hours before the concert had hinted at the preeminent importance the Stones still hold in the rock hierarchy. The sidewalk on Seventh Avenue’was jammed with young people, most of them looking to sell or buy tickets.
Inside, with a sold‐out house of 19,500 on hand, the audience excitement level seemed appreciably higher than at most rock concerts.

Instead of a conventional opening act, there were some 100 steel drummers and miscellaneous percussionists—nobody in the Stones tour party seemed to know exactly how many—all of them reportedly from the Caribbean and living now in Brooklyn. Their presence seemed at first an inspired idea, with the infections ryhtlimic racket reinforcing the ebullience. of the crowd. But after awhile the idea didn’t look so good after all. The Stones let the drummers play on too long, and the audience’s excitement turned to impatience.

Finally, at 9:25 o’clock, the drummers who had been pounding out “Satisfaction” over and over quit and the recorded strains of Aaron Copland’s ceremonially brassy “Fanfare for the Common Man”—which the hand has had the musical and metaphorical wit to use throughout the tour—filled the air. The stage unfolded, Mr. Jagger clinging rather nervously to the tip of a petal, and the concert began.

From here on, things were pretty much as before. The set breaks very roughly into three parts. The opening “Hooky Tonk Women” introduces a series of mostly familiar high‐energy rockers in which “Gimme Shelter” and “You Gotta Move” provide only momentary relief. This part culminates in “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.” the 12th song.
(Ref. madison square garden 1975)

“Heartbreaker” serves as a transition into the rather choppy middle part, which proceeds then with “Fingerprint File,” as instrumentally interesting (particularly Ron Wood’s bass solo) as it is melodramatically lame. “Angie” and the haunting “Wild Horses” are the quiet center of this set and were sung with better legato control than they had been earlier. Then come Mr. Preston’s two efforts.

The final part kicks off with “Brown Sugar,” unless you choose to count it and the bulk of “Midnight Rambler” as an appendage to the middle section. The third part, a flat‐out energy burst to the finish, is definitely under way by the end of “Midnight Rambler,” and proceeds with “Rip This Joint,” “Street Fighting Man” and “Jumping Jack Flash.”
Except that although “Jumping Jack Flash” has closed all the shows up to now, it didn’t close it last night.
(Ref. rolling stones msg 1975)

For suddenly all the 100‐odd steel drummers and percussionists began pouring onto the stage, accompanied by a familiar‐sounding bass ostinato from Bill Wyman. And finally, in the midst of all the celebratory clatter swirling around him. Mr. Jagger and the whole band launched into “Sympathy for the Devil,” joined eventually by Eric Clapton for a stinging guitar solo.
(Ref. madison square garden 1975)

This was the song that had become symbolic of the Stones’ supposes satanism, and the centerpiece in our memories of the murder of a black man at Altamont, Calif. Mr. Jagger had not sung it in this country since then, six years ago.
And here now he was, surrounded by festive black men and women, the kind who are producing some of the most vital music in contemporary pop. Earlier, before the Stones had begun, one had wondered a bit about using all black street people to entertain an almost entirely white audience. It had its charms, but it left one just a hit uneasy.

But at the end, Mr. Jagger managed to make his metaphor work. “Sympathy for the Devil” became an attestation of affinities, and carefree exultation had wiped away a lingering aftertaste.
(Ref. rolling stones msg 1975)

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