red lights

We Can't Always Get What We Want

Rolling Stones
Comiskey Park
Chicago, IL
Sept. 13, 2002
Mick Jagger

Review by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Phil Bonyata

Mick's voice was in top form. Keith's guitar was as beautifully ragged and choppy as ever. A newly sober Ronnie Wood provided incendiary leads, while drummer Charlie Watts expertly held the whole package together with his impeccable timing. And that's not to even mention that this once torn-and-frayed band looked incredibly fit and healthy (yes, even Keith) for a group of men hovering around 60. So what, then, went awry at The Rolling Stones' second of three shows in Chicago last Friday evening?
Maybe it was the fact that the tickets were ridiculously priced, from $370 to be seated somewhere on the ballpark's field (and still seemingly an entire outfield away from the action), to a $50 seat that was actually so high up it reached outside of the Chicago city limits.Keith Richards Or maybe it was the fact that the sound through several numbers was so badly marred that it made them almost unintelligible until midsong. Of course, for the superstitious, there's also the outside chance that it could've just been bad mojo, this being Friday the 13th and all.
While all of these factors may have played a hand in The Stones' slightly less than satisfactory performance at Chicago's Comiskey Park, the singular reason was undoubtedly their choice of songs. Now that's not to say that their Hot Rocks-era hits such as "Honky Tonk Woman," "Jumping Jack Flash," "Brown Sugar," "Satisfaction," and "Sympathy For The Devil" are mediocre by any means. On the contrary, these are some of their strongest and most beloved numbers from their forty year canon. But considering that all of these numbers have been played to death throughout every tour since '89, it seemed that they could have been a little more inventive with their setlist. Even the band seemed to coast on auto pilot through familiar, and overplayed live tunes such as "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" and "Start Me Up."
Rolling Stones Looking both healthy and happy, although never casting so much as a glance at one another, The Glimmer Twins still managed to hold sway with their audience through Jagger's rubbery dancing and powerful vocals along with Richards' devilish contortions as he scrapped out meaty slabs of rhythm guitar and, as he proved during his solo on "Sympathy For The Devil, some of the nastiest guitar leads of the evening. Surprisingly, Richards not only sounded better than ever, he also never seemed quite so content, as he hammed up his stage movements with a friendly wink-and-a-nod to his sold out crowd.
Touring behind a forthcoming greatest hits package appropriately titled 40 Licks, The Stones' unveiled "Don't Stop," one of the four new tracks from the album, which featured Jagger chiseling out an impressive rhythm guitar while, at the same time, delivering a passionate vocal during the choruses.Ronnie Wood Likewise, Richards' ragged vocals were in surprising form on a passionate take of "Before They Make Me Run," as well as the introspective "Slipping Away," where he and Ronnie locked into an impressive guitar weave. "I love Chicago!" Richards explained to the crowd as he knelt down to his knees in honor of his beloved audience. And knowing his and the rest of The Stones' affiliation with this city - from their teenage infatuation with early Chicago blues to their surprise appearances at intimate little clubs, such as sitting in with their idol Muddy Waters at the southside blues bar Checkerboard Lounge in 1981, to their $9.00 show at the tiny Double Door in 1997, not to mention Jagger and Wood's more recent surprise stage appearance with Buddy Guy and Charlie Love last Wednesday night at Buddy Guy's Legends, Richards never sounded more forthright and honest in his entire career.
Rolling Stones Similar to their last two tours (Bridges To Babylon and No Security) the band also incorporated a smaller second stage in the center of the ballpark's field in order to bring a closer, more intimate feel for those in the nose bleed seats. This tactic, which previously worked in slightly smaller arenas, didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference to those in the upper regions of the stratosphere, as it was still just too far away. This 3-song second stage set opened with "Neighbors, from their 1981 album Tattoo You, which was, unfortunately, marred by a god awful tinny sound. They also ran through a respectable version of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone," right after delivering the one true gem of the evening. "Little Red Rooster," a gutsy blues number from their early '60s back catalog made the audience remember what got them here in the first place, and that was their own inspired interpretations of Chicago blues music. With a dirty slide from Wood along with Jagger's smoking harp solo this song stood out as one of the sole highlights of the evening.
Knowing that this tour is not even two weeks old yet, and that they've already pulled out such wonderful chestnuts from their zenith years of the '70s such as "Rip This Joint," "Rocks Off," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Dance," "When The Whip Comes Down," "Far Away Eyes" and "Torn and Frayed," it seemed a shame that the biggest, most expensive show of their three Chicago gigs was filled with such a stale and predictable set list.
It just goes to prove that The Rolling Stones were right all along - you can't always get what you want. Here's hoping that if they really try at their Monday night performance at the intimate Aragon Ballroom their hardcore fans might just get what they need.

The Rolling Stones Setlist from Comiskey Park 09.13.02

1) Brown Sugar
2) Start Me Up
3) It's Only Rock n' Roll
4) Don't Stop
5) Honky Tonk Woman
6) Undercover
7) Angie
8) You Can't Always Get What You Want
9) Monkey Man
10) Love Train
11) Slipping Away
12) Before They Make Me Run
13) Sympathy For The Devil

Second Stage (3 songs)

14) Neighbors
15) Little Red Rooster
16) Like A Rolling Stone

17) Gimme Shelter
18) Tumbling Dice
19) Street Fighting Man
20) Jumping Jack Flash


21) Midnight Rambler
22) Satisfaction

Mick Jagger
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