The Rolling Stones second stop on the second leg of their Licks Tour was at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday, January 10, 2003. Snow and frigid weather greeted the band on the evening of their performance. Miraculously, cheap $52 seats went on sale at the venue box office right after eight o'clock, an hour before the Stones hit the stage.
The Stones kicked off the evening with "Street Fighting Man". The band began with a great version of this 1968 classic. Keith Richards stooped on stage to toss his guitar pick into the audience. "If You Can't Rock Me" featured a funky bridge-break and 'Jagger's swagger'. Ron Wood chirped on his guitar solo.
Mick Jagger introduced "Don't Stop" with, "This is one from 40 Licks", as he strapped on an electric guitar with Chuck Leavell supporting the intro on organ. Wood whipped up his Ronnie-Cam guitar solo and Darryl Jones bumped along the bass line. The new lick generated strong applause.
Richards and Wood donned acoustic guitars for "Angie". Jagger whispered the lyrics during a soft interlude to maximize effect. Pittsburgh fans were treated to a Let It Bleed album suite. Jones launched "Live With Me" with a deep bass intro aided by Charlie Watts pounding out the beat. Bobby Keys reprised his saxophone solo as Leavell jammed on the under-melody.
"Midnight Rambler" featured the Stones' synchronized rhythm section. Jagger wailed on harmonica, and Richards chunked on his guitar lines for this tight rendition. Jagger's frenetic dancing incited cheers from the crowd and climaxed after a blues break in the tempo.
Richards greeted the Mellon Arena with, "It's nice to be back, Happy New Year...I told you I'd be back". Richards sang "Happy" supported by the Horn section and Blondie Chaplin on acoustic guitar. Wood was seated as he jammed on dobro for his solo.
"You Got Me Rocking", a new lick by comparison, got the crowd singing "Hey, Hey" on the chorus. Watts thumped away on the skins, and Wood ripped on his bottleneck guitar solo. Jones joined the backing trio on the chorus line.
Richards cranked out the intro on "Honky Tonk Women", which featured a spectacular adult animation sequence of a topless nymph riding the Stones' infamous insignia - the lapping red Tongue. Three older female ushers began dancing in the portal with male patrons as the band jammed on stage. Leavell tinkled out his piano solo, and the Horn section added punch and power to this classic rocker.
The Stones' signature song, "(I Can't get No) Satisfaction", sounded terrific. Richards' stinging guitar intro sounded the call to the audience to get up on it's feet. The portal area erupted into a spontaneous dance section as everybody began moving to the music. The crowd roared when Mick, Keith and Ron stood front & center during the crescendo.
The Stones performed Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" on the B-stage. Jagger delivered a strong vocal as the audience sang along on the chorus. Leavell floated across the organ, and Jagger piped away on the harmonica. To add a little humor and spice, Watts twirled a bra on his drumstick that had been tossed onto the intimate stage.
After their B-stage appearance, the band walked back across the catwalk and hung out behind the stage before returning for the encore. Richards' lone guitar sounded off the intro to "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and red paper petals showered inside the venue. As the song segued into overdrive, the Horn section's added impact raised the excitement level with Watts bashing out a battery finish on the drums.
Pittsburgh setlist: Street Fighting Man * Start Me Up * If You Can't Rock Me * Don't Stop * Monkey Man * Angie * Live With Me * Let It Bleed * Midnight Rambler * Tumbling Dice * introductions * Slipping Away (Keith) * Happy (Keith) * Gimme Shelter * You Got Me Rocking * Can't You Hear Me Knocking * Honky Tonk Women * (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction * It's Only Rock'n Roll (B-stage) * Like A Rolling Stone (B-stage) * Brown Sugar (B-stage) * Encore: Jumpin' Jack Flash
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Licks & Old Laps
A Pitstop in Pittsburgh
by Timothy Tilghman