rolling stones munich germany 2017 coverFlashback

ROLLING STONES FLASHBACK: LIVE IN MÜNCHEN 2017

The Rolling Stones live in München 2017
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Sept. 12, 2017: Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany
Sympathy For The Devil/It’s Only Rock’n Roll/Tumbling Dice/Out Of Control/Just Your Fool/Ride ‘Em On Down/Dancing With Mr. D/You Can’t Always Get What You Want/Beast Of Burden/Paint It Black/Honky Tonk Women/Band introduction/Happy/Slipping Away/Midnight Rambler/Miss You/Street Fighting Man/Start Me Up/Brown Sugar/Satisfaction/Gimme Shelter/Jumping Jack Flash
*All photos by Neil Ebden

From the IORR site:
As Mick pointed-out during one excursion into the English language, Munich was the location for the recording of part of Black and Blue. He forgot about It’s Only Rock’n’Roll… just like he had a couple of other memory omissions during the evening: more of that later. That recording studio, Musicland, is now the exercise room of a hotel I’m told, and it certainly looked as if Mick had been using it a lot. Some of his moves and standing poses look like photos or videos from the 1967 European Tour, not one 50 years later. I’m convinced he has an ageing painting of himself, probably painted by Ronnie years ago, hidden in his roof. All very Oscar Wildesque.

He also mentioned that the band had played in Munich many times in the past, and in the Olympic Stadium 9 times I think. They did look and sound on familiar territory, from the first glimpse of the slim figure of Charlie climbing onto the drum stand to the last wave as they left after 140 minutes or so of high powered rock and roll. What can a rich boy do except sing for a rock’n’roll band (or play drums or guitar).
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Munich was also the location for the 1923 “putsch” when the ultra-right, including a certain Herr Hitler, first tried to seize control of Germany. It was called the “beer hall” putsch, and those beer halls for which Munich is also famous had plenty of Stones fans in them before the concert, mingling with fans of local soccer stars Bayern Munchen.

1923 is a very long time ago of course; almost nobody alive will remember it happening. Yet is was only 40 years before the Stone’s first record came out, 55 years ago. This band certainly bridges history now as well as creates it. Before this ramble on local history finishes, “putsch” is the German word for what most people call “coup” or “coup d’etat” – taking over a country, internally, using illegal means. We use French and German words for that, at least for now…

Sticking with a language theme, and again as we all have come to expect, Mick was often referring to the teleprompter for some choice German phrases to keep the audience feeling at home. Amusingly at one point he ended a few words of German with something like “and other random German words” – I’m sure an IORR reader somewhere will remember the exact wording. It made me smile.

This feels like a Mick review so far; its probably because I’ve come to realise that no matter how crucial Keith, Charlie and Ronnie are to the Stones, Mick really is the key person especially on stage. There he is the entertainer most of the time; the ultimate music performer who with his voicings, his glances and wry smiles, his dancing, his mostly ad lib comments, with energy enthusiasm and organisation, drives the whole show. He made couple of mistakes, singing a verse of YCAGWYW twice and stumbling with the words as he realised, and getting out of sync with where they were on Rambler – the others were spot-on. Just goes to show even Mr Jagger is capable of the odd slip – and he does carry a lot on his thin shoulders during a show, and no doubt for weeks before.
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The start of the show for this tour is a very slimmed down affair. Music ends, lights go down, no Matt C announcement, no extended video to remind you who is about to arrive. Just the rhythm of Sympathy, some red lighting, and off we go. Mick, Chuck, Charlie, Daryl playing (maybe Ronnie) and then to cue-in the chorus the thunderous roar of a Keith power chord – a B7 shakes the Olympic park. And a shorter version of Sympathy I felt; I may be wrong. Compact, which I hope allows for 21 or 22 songs every show on this tour. We get 3 famous songs, then Out of Control (how that has matured, and really grown on me in the last 20 years), and then “two new songs off of Blue and Lonesome”.

OK so not really new, but great fun, lots of guitar weaving and some beautiful 2 guitars plus blues harp interaction as well. Brief, under 3 minutes each. Guys – throw in another to keep us all excited. The crowd were super enthusiastic for these songs that are even older than the band, and the energy and power radiating from the stage when they were played. In fact apart from Slipping Away, this was a fast song-beat gig. No slow ones from Mick (well maybe Beast), only Keith, but then maybe we all got the “who wrote which type of song” analysis wrong for many years anyway.
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Beast of Burden was the voters choice; I’d have preferred Rocks Off – still one of the best two album openers ever in my opinion. I loved Keith’s little slip starting this; his wry smile at Ronnie, and maybe Mick, and the relaxed way he re-started – maybe it was the change of key as this is now played in A. Remember super-fans, these guys are human and make the odd mistake, and they recover from them and the Stones wouldn’t be the Stones without a little sloppiness from time to time. This is not Pink Floyd or a Philharmonic.

My first show was in London in 1976, so I’d never seen Dancing with Mr D. live before. It worked really well, and could have been written anytime since 1968 – it really weathers time like the band. The added vocal harmonies and a little bass frill at the end of each chorus helped create some innovation – but it really does work live. We were playing an old live version from the ’73 tour before we left the hotel for the gig. This was as good, maybe better. I’ll listen more closely next show I attend, and not let my mind drift back to buying Goats Head Soup on the way home from school and playing that first track.
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Rambler did ramble a bit, I thought on the night. I need to listen to a recording to validate that impression. Yes I think Mick got out of sync, but I also felt the whole song was a little ragged. It had just rained I think; really poured. Were they were trying to change Rambler a bit, maybe shorten-it? It is a major piece in the Stones Opus, and maybe that was what nagged at me.

Mick commented on it being “parky” (English slang for cold) and then that the rain hadn’t been forecast. There are some great rainfall radar sites that would have corrected that idea 2 hours before the gig started. I hardly saw him use the teleprompter – few in the audience would be able to do that for material they wrote years ago, and only sing 20 times a year now.

I’ve read negative reports on Keith in Hamburg. He seemed in great form last night, full of energy and really focused on his performance in all senses. They play together so infrequently these days, maybe 120 hours each year (work it out), so at times it will feel loose. Get over it people. Non-super fans wouldn’t notice it at all. Ronnie was playing very seriously I thought; less clowning than even recently. Very enjoyable. I did worry about Charlie towards the end, not that it affected his playing one iota. But drumming for well over 2 hours in the cold, even if he avoided the wet: not a great idea. Memo to Stones Management: Don’t book gigs where, and when, the weather can be poor, cold, or dusty, or very wet. More concern for the team please.
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Shelter works well as an encore starter, and Sasha really sang strongly, moving with Jagger on what was probably still a slippery walkway. Some very strong soloing from Keith, and Ronnie. The start was a bit different – plan or something else? Who knows. And Flash, which I have read is Keith’s favourite, finished proceedings off very very well indeed. Ronnie seemed to stop the 4 “principals” walking down the catwalk for a final bow – again blame the Baverian rain.

As always the band got great support on-stage from Chuck (whose piano was mixed-up really well on some songs, tinkling away), Daryl, Tim (even if the keyboard didn’t work for half of YCAGWYW; great solo on Miss You), Karl (Sugar in particular excellent), Bernard (little duet with Mick on Beast, and I felt more “supportive” singing for Mick than usual, hitting the higher notes); finally Matt, whose birthday it was. Never underestimate how this “family” around the band keeps the show on the road and enrichens the performance.

Four special mentions as well. Firstly the backline crew, for their usual excellence. Then the catwalk “cleaners”, either sliding on towels or pushing brooms, to allow Mick to come down safely all through the show. Next to Dave Natale, sound engineer par excellence. I had a long chat with him last year, post a show, and I saw he got an Emmy recently. All I know is that he has magic in his fingers on those mixer sliders!

Finally the stage, and the light show. I bumped into Patrick W at the airport on the way home, and recognised him as the lighting designer. He is sat a few rows in front of me as I write this. He told me he had worked for the band since 1982 (Aberdeen), and visits key shows. The new “screens” and the show they allow were superb. It looks a bit odd in the light, the gaps between the towers.

But the ability to see all 4 Stones, or watch Tim on sax, or Bernard signing, from all directions, and then a mix of people. Great. The portrait format means you see everything super large and clear (must be 20 metres high), and angled to reach all the audience. And it creates some funny images. Like Ronnie’s shoe, enormous in size, seeming to press down on Chuck’s head like a Monty Python animation. Brilliant; thanks to all the team for that.
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Its been almost 11 months since my last show, in Las Vegas. Indoors, Mick recovering from the California dust, new album out since then, etc. etc. So I had lots of impressions to try and write down. Hence the length of this review. Everyone I was with, or talked-to, had a great time. A few preferred Hamburg (I’d like Play with Fire and Thumb please…. email me and I’ll send the other 5 shows I’m attending), but the smiles and satisfaction… well we all really got a lot last night in Munich.
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