Essential Stones: 10 Shows Over Four Decades

The Rolling Stones For as long as I have known him, Dave has loved the Rolling Stones. He has driven hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to see them. When I realized we had sort of neglected to cover the Stones' latest trek behind A Bigger Bang, Dave stepped up and announced that he had seen three shows over the past year. I then realized that he has long history with the Stones, having seen them 10 times over the last 35 years, so why not talk to him about all the shows he's been to. He regaled me with tales of getting to the venues, the people he had gone with, the seats he'd sat in, the things he'd seen before, during, and after each performance. So, we discussed 10 essential Stones shows (or at least a proper sampling) — shows that Dave attended and recalled with a special fondness. And for a guy who attends a concert or two every week, that's really saying something.

July 25, 1972 ~ Madison Square Garden ~ New York, NY

1972Exile On Main Street Tour. Stevie Wonder opened. Tony, Dave, and Stan — all 16 — managed to catch a ride with an older fan from Gloversville to New York City. They arrived early and parked in Manhattan. The Stones played two concerts that day — a matinee in the afternoon and an evening show. Dave and his pals had tickets for the latter, so they walked around, taking in the scene with thousands of other Stones fans. Dave bought a bootleg T-shirt and strolled to the back of the Garden. While waiting around, he saw two limousines, and trailing behind were two station wagons exiting the arena. One of them was carrying Keith Richards and Mick Taylor.

Chip Monk introduced the Stones. They opened with “Brown Sugar,” and went on to play others like “Bitch,” “Rip This Joint,” “All Down The Line,” “Sweet Virginia” -- all fairly new songs at the time. “Midnight Rambler” was the highlight, with Mick Jagger blowing a rousing harp introduction and using a red scarf as a dramatic stage prop during the song’s climax. Keith Richards, all shaggy-haired and pirate-like, did “Happy” and he looked pretty happy doing it. Charlie Watts sat on a drum pedestal positioned at the meeting of tails connected to two serpents hand-painted on the surface of the stage. Mick Taylor was in a great form. It would be the last time Dave would see him with the Stones. Bill Wyman held his bass in a stoic, vertical stance, while Nicky Hopkins played piano. It was the day before Jagger’s birthday and they rolled out a big cake to celebrate. Bianca Jagger, in a white dress and hat, came on stage to join in the festivities. Stevie Wonder later joined the Stones for a wild version of “Very Superstitious.” Toward the end of the show, Jagger threw buckets of rose pedals into the audience. This was about the time people started calling the Stones the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band, and this show came close to verifying that claim.

August 2, 1975 ~ Gator Bowl ~ Jacksonville, FL

1975 Tour Of Americas. Atlanta Rhythm Section, Rufus with Chaka Kahn and J. Geils Band opened. Tony, his girlfriend Nancy, and Dave drove from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville, about 600 miles and the farthest Dave had ever driven to a show at that point of time. It was a real hot day and the show started early. As the day wore on, the crowd grew restless and rowdy. Security soaked them down with water hoses to cool them off. Of all the openers for the day, J. Geils played the best set. It was last time Dave ever saw them. The Stones came on just as it was getting dark. Dave remembers they played “Get Off My Cloud” with Billy Preston, who stole the show. Later, Preston got a chance to play a couple of numbers of his own, including the funky instrumental “Outta Space.” New member Ronnie Wood, filling in for the departed Mick Taylor, did a great job, playing second guitar alongside Keith. “Star Star” and “Ain’t To Proud To Beg” were new numbers added to the set. They also played “Fingerprint File” from “It’s Only Rock And Roll,” a real rarity. This would be Dave’s last Stones show for almost 15 years.

October 21, 1989 ~ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ~ Los Angeles, CA

Folk Singer Steel Wheels Tour. Living Color and Guns N’ Roses opened. Over the past few years, Dave had lived all over the country and had married, so this time, instead of attending with his concert buddies, he took his wife and extended family members to the show. Although this was the first Stones tour in nearly eight years, it was Bill Wyman’s last with the group. A huge towering stage, a state-of-the-art sound system, and lots of extra musicians were added to make everything sound big and crystal clear. This proved a major benefit especially on songs the Stones hadn’t played live that much, like “Ruby Tuesday,” “Paint It Black,” and “2.000 Light Years From Home.” This marked a new era for the Stones, who would continue to play big and huge stadiums in big and huge ways, getting grander with each year.

October 17, 1994 ~ Jack Murphy Stadium ~ San Diego, CA

1994 Voodoo Lounge Tour. Seal opened. This time Dave changed the pace and took his wife, as well as a bunch drunk guys who shall remain nameless, but included yours truly. As expected, the Stones held nothing back, unveiling inflatable honky tonk women and an evil-eyed cobra arched over the band for the whole show. New bass player Darryl Jones made it easy to get over the hump of losing Wyman, chugging along spritely with Charlie, and playing foil to Woody and Keith. By this time, many of the supporting musicians, namely back-up singers Lisa Fisher and Bernard Fowler, sax man Bobby Keys and keyboardist Chuck Leavell, were part of the inner sactum, and practically members of the band (they remain with the entourage t this day). Songs for the night included “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Monkey Man,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” (Heartbreaker).” The Stones also played lots of new tunes from Voodoo Lounge, such as “You Got Me Rocking,” “Sparks Will Fly,” and Keith Richards’ subtle, yet straightforward “The Worst.”

October 16, 1997 ~ Giants Stadium ~ North Rutherford, NJ

1997 Bridges Of Babylon Tour. Foo Fighters opened. Back in New York and no longer a married man, Dave and his pal DJ Dave, who would become a key component during subsequent East coast Stones shows, drove down fom Gloversville to New Jersey. Dave recalls seeing the Manhattan skyline, noticing the World Trade Center towers. It would be the last time he would see those. By this time, the Stones were on board with the wired generation, so an Internet request came in and they played “Factory Girl.” Other highlights included “Angie,” “Tumbling Dice,” and “Miss You.”

January 7, 1998 ~ Carrier Dome ~ Syracuse, NY

1998 Bridges Of Babylon Tour. No opening band. Dave reminded that he reviewed this show for Vintage Rock, so he thought it might be best for readers to click on this review to get the skinny on that one. In short, though, Dave and DJ Dave managed to get fairly close to the stage and witnessed an excellent show. This was one of the last "make-up" gigs the Stones did in America before venturing over to the Soviet Union for the very first time!

February 9, 1999 ~ Arrowhead Duck Pond ~ Anaheim, CA

1999 No Security Tour. Bryan Adams opened. Back in California, Dave and a guy named Fester went and sat in the rafters of the 20,000 seat arena. All things considered, it was an intimate show. The Stones opened up with “Start Me Up.” They also played “Sister Morphine” on the bare stage adorned with minimalist security tape. No wonder there was great sense of freedom at this gig — there was no security. For a second opinion, check out this review.

September 17, 2005 ~ Pepsi Arena ~ Albany, NY

2005 A Bigger Bang Tour. Alanis Morisette opened. Having missed the Forty Licks tour of 2002 and 2003, Dave was back in New York and jumped at the chance when, at the last minute, DJ Dave said he an extra seat just a few feet from the stage. Even after DJ Dave explained that the ticket wasn’t cheap, Dave threw caution to the wind and scooped the ticket up. Once he was inside and found his seat, Dave knew it was worth every penny. It was one of the best seats in the house and he rejoiced in his good fortune. So he strapped himself in and got ready to hear some new songs off A Bigger Bang, along with the usual batch of favorites. Dave wasn’t disappointed and he laughed hysterically to himself at the thought of being so close to Mick and Keith in their subhuman forms and animated caricatures. They didn’t seem real. Dave was even closer than the front row, and felt like he was almost part of the show. The Stones rolled out the new ones like “Oh No! Not You Again,” “Rough Justice,” and the bluesy “The Back Of My Hand.” They also played a monumental “Midnight Rambler,” along with one Dave had never heard them do before — “She’s So Cold” from Emotional Rescue. Keith sang another new one called “Infamy.” Other highlights included “Get Off My Cloud” and Ray Charles’ “The Night Time Is The Right Time.”

January 20, 2006 ~ Madison Square Garden ~ New York, NY

2006 A Bigger Bang Tour. Metric opened. Dave, DJ Dave and Dom Donato, an old acquaintance who had also seen the Stones at the Garden back in '72, scored VIP seating along the side of the stage and watched as John Lithgow took a seat close by. Opening with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the Stones also played “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and “As Tears Go By,” which featured Keith on a 12-string acoustic. The crowd went absolutely nuts for this one. “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Paint It Black” were other highlights, along with “This Place Is Empty” from A Bigger Bang. The final song of the night was “Satisfaction” with a taste of “Mustang Sally” thrown in as a tribute to Wilson Pickett, who had passed away the day before.

September 27, 2006 ~ Giants Stadium ~ North Rutherford, NJ

2006 A Bigger Bang Tour. Kanye West opened. Dave says this is the best stadium show he’s ever seen. Once again, it was Dave, DJ Dave, and Dom drinking a variety of Magic Hat brews in the parking lot before the show. It was a beautiful night for a concert. The Stones opened with “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll.” Later, they rolled out the ever insatiable “Live With Me,” followed by “Monkey Man” and “Sway.” Keith was somewhat subdued, partially due to his famous fall from a coconut tree or a shrub, depending on whom you ask. “Faraway Eyes” was another treat. Keith laid low with an acoustic while Mick took over during “Streets Of Love.” Richards later crooned his way, guitar-free, through “You’ve Got The Silver.” Then he strapped on his Gibson and ripped through “Little T &A” before hanging low for “Under My Thumb” as the stage rolled down a track to the other end of the stadium.

~ Dave Gardiner as told to Shawn Perry

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