Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I think the key question regarding this release is whether the world needs yet another live release from The Rolling Stones (this is the band’s 17th live release). The answer to this depends on your perspective on the Stones. I was reading an AllMusic review of a quasi-bootleg by the band Death and the reviewer’s comments sums up my view of the Stones new release: “[S]ome hardcore collectors are so obsessive that they want to hear anything and everything that the artist ever did. There are the Rolling Stones' fans who will happily pay $65 or more for a three-CD bootleg of the band rehearsing, there are No Doubt fans who are thrilled to have 25 or 30 live performances of "Don't Speak" in their collections“.
The challenge with this release is that the set list doesn’t differ substantially from what the Stones have been playing for more than a decade. With tickets for the two Hyde Park shows ranging from £100 to £300, it isn’t surprising that, aside for the new cut “Doom and Gloom”, the Stones take no risks and the setlist doesn’t venture any more current than “Start Me Up” from 1981’s Tattoo You. This is a greatest hits set for aging boomers with discretionary cash.
There was a time (many years ago) when bands like The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith were ‘dangerous’ and this was music that your parents were afraid of...now, the Stones and Aerosmith are your parent’s music. Bill Wyman summed it up best in a quote he gave last year to Mirror: “I don’t hear the Stones the same way now as when I was in the band, because in those days, it was all sort of dangerous and loose. Now, it’s like a machine.”
Mick, Keef and the band perform like a well-oiled machine and they even trot Mick Taylor out for an extended version of “Midnight Rambler” and the encore “Satisfaction”. I think my biggest complaint is that the grit that made the Stones great in the 70’s is gone. All of the songs are slightly slower in tempos and, looking specifically at a couple of the songs, there is no menace to “Street Fighting Man” and the ‘mysticism’ is missing from “Paint it Black”. This isn’t to say this is a bad show – Jagger is the ultimate showman and does a great job of revving up the enthusiastic crowd with comments like “How many of you were here in 1969?” (Note: the 1969 Hyde Park show was Mick Taylor’s debut with the Stones). Keith’s riffs sound great and he, thankfully, hasn’t lost his grit on songs like “Before They Make Me Run” and “We Got the Silver”. Long-time backing vocalist Lisa Fisher is also a standout (though I would have liked to have heard her contributions higher in the mix). As side note, Fisher recently co-starred in the brilliant documentary “20 Feet from Stardom “ which Jagger references during the show with the comment “Come on out from 20 feet from what’s it”. The problem/challenge with this being a “good show” and not a great one is there is no reason to buy/play the show versus any of the Stones’ other live albums. Outside of this set containing the first officially released live version of “Doom and Gloom”, there is just nothing that stands out as a “must have”. On the other hand, if you are a collector, why not have another live version of “Satisfaction”?
In closing, I’m a bit cynical about the ‘limited’ nature of this release... there already are physical promos floating around on eBay and the Stones haven’t yet released a physical live album from this tour (as they seem to have done after every other tour). It seems likely that it will be a short period of time before this show ends up as either a mass-produced European/Asian bootleg or folded into a ‘deluxe box set’.