Camp Randall Stadium
October 7, 1997
Story by Tony Bonyata"I've got a bit of laryngitis, but I'll do the best that I can to hit the high notes", Mick Jagger apologized to a not quite full stadium in Madison last Monday night. Jagger went on to perform like a true showman and sounded incredibly well despite his affliction.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
With a couple of minor prop malfunctions along with Jagger's more subdued performance than the first two tour opening shows in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, the Rolling Stones "Bridges To Babylon" show at Camp Randall Stadium was, nonetheless, a major success.
Playing to a much younger crowd than in Chicago (this is a college town after all), the Stones ripped through a 22-song set that featured a wealth of hits from their 35 year old back catalog, which was highlighted by sterling renditions of "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Bitch" (complete with a smoldering four piece horn section) and the encore "Brown Sugar". While the show was almost identical to the shows in Chicago (elaborate stage set, impeccable sound and video monitor, fireworks, similar song set and costume changes), a couple of song changes managed to keep things interesting.
About an hour and a half into the show the Stones walked out to centerfield via a runway onto a tiny, intimate stage to play 3 numbers. Just as in Chicago they played a revved-up version of Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" and their own "Last Time". But it was the replacement of "Let It Bleed" for the slightly more obscure, yet great "Crazy Mama" that gave this audience a real treat. During the internet voters choice, where the results from an online song poll were shown on the video monitor, "Gimme Shelter" won out, replacing the winners from the Chicago shows "She's A Rainbow" and "Under My Thumb". "Gimme Shelter" a song from their 1969 album Let It Bleed was actually one of the highlights of the evening as the entire band was firing on all pistons. This song also showcased the immensely talented voice of voluptuous background singer, Lisa Fisher.
Although Jagger's voice nor the stadium's attendance was at full capacity, nobody took the time to tell the rest of the band as Richards happily picked up any slack with his wicked riffs and, almost self-parodying, jerky leg kicks and flinching strum arm. Human-metronome and drummer Charlie Watts and Chicago bassist Darryl Jones provided a strong bed of rhythm as Ronnie Wood's searing lead guitar added a nice foil to Richard's rhythm guitar throughout the show.
The only real disappointment of the evening was the lack of camaraderie between the Glimmer Twins. Not once did Jagger and Richards share the same mike, much less even acknowledge each others existence, except for the obligatory band member intros. In the 70's and early 80's you could hardly separate these two, friends since the age of five, on stage. Now in their middle 50's, they seem like an old married couple who have slowly grown tired of each other over the years. At least this hasn't affected their music, yet.
One of the two encore numbers from the Chicago shows, "You Can't Always Get What You Want", was dropped from the Madison show. Maybe because the Stones realized, even without that song, that the spectacular "Bridges To Babylon" show gave the Wisconsin crowd everything they could have wanted.
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