Seeing bands and live music really is nothing new for me, certainly nothing out of the ordinary, but this one was different. This was my favourite band. The band I never knew if I’d be able to see because they’re all getting on a bit. I always thought, hey maybe they’ll still play the UK, should one of them pass- there’s been interviews and it’s been said that their last ever show would be a London one.
They were in the midst of a Latin American tour back in 2016 and I was fully considering getting myself to Cuba- a holiday and a gig?! Excellent idea, but alas, the money and the timing had other ideas. Then the day came where that unbelievable gig was announced, playing with other icons such as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Roger Daltery to name a few and oh where oh where was the gig of dreams going to take place? Only the dreamiest of la la lands, yes you guessed it, California! Only 5000 odd miles and the Atlantic Ocean stood in the way. This dream came crumbling to the land of not happening with uni in the way and I was already saving for New York. That would have been one hell of a gig. Then came the rumours that they were going to tour again and the word on the grapevine suggested it was Europe’s turn. The band in question… the Rolling Stones.
Yeah the Stones have played prior to these events in my lifetime, but the Latin America tour was the only time I have ever considered flying halfway across the world by myself and all of that caper. So when Europe was announced and having family ties to Amsterdam, it seemed only logical that a family trip was to ensue. So ticket day came and that was one very, very stressful morning. I already knew we were aiming for seating tickets (me.. seated?? I know. We had our reasons and actually, it wasn’t as bad as it’s made out to be- more to come on that though). Anyway, standing tickets are always the first to go, so I thought I’d be alright, I was early for the sale and already I was placed into a queue, and I kid you not, I can remember the stress. I was online for ages, unable to refresh the page and slightly freaking out and then, onto the site I got, 4 tickets in tow and off to the checkout. Done. It was happening and all we had to do was wait.
Talk about a story, ey. Let’s fast forward to the gig. It was taking place in the Amsterdam ArenA and oh my, it was HUGE. Turns out it has a capacity for over 50,000 people! That’s quite a step up from the biggest stadium I had been in to date- the old LG Arena, when I saw Arctic Monkeys back in 2013. The steps were so steep as well. After a while, you don’t really notice but it was certainly quite a view!
I knew the setlist in advance (bar the vote song) because that’s who I am and I like to know. I don’t care if it kills the surprise or whatever, I like to know if my favourites are happening.
I can narrow down my favourite Stones’ album down to four- Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, Exile on Main St and Some Girls. Note the 3/4 Mick Taylor era- certainly my favourite and what I’d argue as their best. No offence, Ronnie la.
Sympathy for the Devil
It’s only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I like It)
Just Your Fool
Ride ‘Em on Down
You Got Me Rocking
Shine A Light (vote song)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Paint It Black
Honky Tonk Woman
Street Fighting Man
Start Me Up
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Where to even begin?! I feel like the opener and final song were obvious choices. Crowd pleasers and absolute anthems. One thing from this #NoFilter tour that I want to point out were the backing vocals. There were a couple of backing singers, as you’d expect and really, being honest, you don’t think too much of them. However, for Gimme Shelter, one of the backing singers, who I believe to be Sasha Allen, took the place of Merry Clayton for the duet with Jagger and honestly, it completely blew me away. In fact, everything about the performance of Gimme Shelter had me completely dumbfounded. I also loved the light and video display- seditious photos flashing behind the rebellious pioneers of the 60s, undoubtedly complimentary of the story of the political and social unrest that was happening at the time, most notably the Vietnam War.
Which brings me onto, standout songs: Gimme Shelter (as I’ve mentioned), Slippin Away, Shine A Light, Miss You
In terms of the vote song, I initially- for a split second was kind of disappointed. I had been hoping for Beast of Burden as I knew it had been played on previous nights of the tour, or maybe a bit of Dead Flowers cos what a tune, arguably one of my favourite songs in the world. However, neither of those were even on the poll, so when Shine A Light won, I was kind of indifferent. Bear in mind, all of this was a split second of thinking because they announced the winner of the vote and instantly got into playing it. Yet, I was not disappointed at all, in fact, I loved it! I have no idea why, I just originally did not see this as a live song, in comparison to some of their other songs- it’s not like the Stones are short on choice, let’s be real here. But oh, as I often am, I was wrong. What a tune! I love Exile, as I’ve said, I just never imagined the song live. In fact, I think I like it even more now that I’ve heard it live. Anthemic is a word I’d opt for when describing it, it was incredible!
Slippin Away saw Keith on lead vocals for the first time of the night. Which, as much as Jagger probably needed a sit down, it was a nice change for the gig as well. Plus, Keith is a pretty integral part of the infamous Jagger/Richards duo so it was nice to have him in the spotlight for a bit. Yknow, see the immortal rock n roll genius in his glory. But the song itself as we know, is a nice steady ballad, especially following from Happy and in that stadium, you could feel all the emotion in the room- 50k+ people singing Richards’ words alongside him. Definitely a memorbale one.
The final stand out song for me was Miss You. I can’t not include something from Some Girls because I rate that album very highly indeed. But it didn’t stand out for that reason alone, I thoroughly enjoyed the light show for this one. It’s such a funky track and the lights did it a lot of justice- neon female faces, very pop art like, lighting up the back. I was mesmorised. Everything just came together for this one and the upbeat revival of ’78 juxtaposed the ballad of what was performed just before it.
[Jagger and Sasha Allen]
[Richards and part of the seditious backdrop for Gimme Shelter]
[Jagger and Richards]
[Jagger and Ronnie Wood]
Side note: It’s pretty clear my golden rule of ‘take one photo and work it out later’ was kind of broken. I actually took a couple of videos and these are stills from those. However, I’m kinda surprised by how they turned out because I set the camera to record and sort of held it down by my chest so I couldn’t see it it. Twisted that golden rule a little bit.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my sort of review, more of a recap of the Stones in Amsterdam. I’m still sort of confused and amazed that I’ve actually seen them live.
The best band to have ever existed!