The prospect of another gig in the Hunter Valley sends a frisson of excitement through this aging (at least physically) and (slightly) arthritic frame: a weekend of fine wine, fine food, good company and of course music! And on this weekend in November I got all of the above, with maybe a few tiny reservations about the latter…
The Rolling Stones in Australia: it’s a gas! We were fully pumped for the occasion: a fine dinner at the inimitable Shakey Tables, the subject of other rapturous blog posts, here and also here on the previous night; rather a lot of good wine consumed; and in order to soak up the atmosphere, we were able to arrive nice and early on the day. As one would expect, the average age of the audience was …well… old.
At previous gigs I do a lot of crowd watching to find out what the predominant vibe is. This weekend the beer gut was compulsory for males over the age of 35. I grabbed a few shots – but it was kind of hard to take snaps in case I got my phone ripped from me or I got beaten up – there were some seriously mean beer guts out there, mostly sporting large Stones tee shirts emblazoned with the Famous Lips. I definitely didn’t want to get shirt fronted by one of those dudes!
The concert was worthy of the hype. We got the Rolling Stones in fine form. There had been a worry that they might have cancelled, as they did their Victorian gig at Hanging Rock the week before. But Mick was clearly dealing with his throat infection, aided no doubt by handing over the vocals to Keith Richards for a few numbers mid set.
You can’t get away from the fact that these guys live and breathe rock and roll and do it with huge style, skill and even after 50 years, an obvious enjoyment for being on stage making music. Mick, Keith and Ronnie bounced, gyrated and strutted the stage like aging peacocks, while Charlie, my personal fave, applied himself to some pretty amazing drumming with his trademark hauteur.
Thanks to Sharyn for Charlie’s photo!
The audience loved it. We rose as one to our feet when rock royalty arrived, and just as we had done for Springsteen earlier this year, we stayed standing for the whole set. Numbers like Satisfaction became more an a capella audience experience, as we sang or shouted the lyrics; people bopped, tapped and danced in their seats.
I loved it all. Paint it Black, for nostalgia, Honky Tonk Women for Mick’s sass and sex appeal, and Sympathy for the Devil, for its rather pompous but broodingly dark lyrics, were standouts for me, the latter accompanied by a vast red firescape that engulfed the stage.
The staging was, to use that overworked epithet, simply awesome! A huge lighting rig, audience blinders, enormous banks of speakers, three – yes three! giant video screens with pristine resolution, and fireworks, all made for a spectacular audio-visual event.
My little gripe was that the audience patter formula, trotted out by every major rock act on tour, coming this time from Mick, was a bit too off the cuff and insincere.
” ‘Ow you doing? Awright?” with that slight Cockney twang. Did he really want to know? I don’t think so.
But hey – he’s Mick – he’s 71 and he wears tight jeans, size 28 inch waist, and he’s got knees I’d kill for! Sexy as, for every gender, it was a treat to see him perform. And the final line-up of the band at the end of the gig seemed to show that they still get genuine enjoyment from performing – we all left happy.
Set List Saturday 15 November 2014 Hope Estate
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Let’s Spend The Night Together
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
Paint It Black
Honky Tonk Women
You Got The Silver (Keith Richards vocal)
Before They Make Me Run (Keith)
Just Can’t Be Seen (Keith)
Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)
Start Me Up
Sympathy For The Devil
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with Sydney Philharmonia)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (with Mick Taylor)