The Rolling Stones played the first of two performances at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, January 16, 2003. The Stones had previously graced the Garden stage in September 2002, and were returning to New York City for another major sell out appearance complete with snowfall as the Garden emptied after the stellar concert.

     The Stones fired up their Garden concert with "Street Fighting Man", followed by "Start Me Up". Their new lick, "Don't Stop", has never failed to catch on with the audiences on the Licks Tour. Mick Jagger's electric guitar playing added melodic intensity to the mix.

     "Monkey Man" rocked as the first of four songs from Let It Bleed. The Stones were joined on stage by famed R&B guitarist Hubert Sumlin who jammed on "Let It Bleed". Jagger played an acoustic guitar, and Ron Wood's impeccable bottleneck guitar solo took this version into the stratosphere.

     Their 1972 classic, "Tumbling Dice", got a work out on stage with Richards and Wood providing a dual guitar foundation. The Horn section lifted the song, invigorating the audience. Jagger walked out onto the catwalk to cheerlead the crowd to clap along in song. Richards churned out a guitar solo for the coda.

     During band introductions, Jagger announced back-up vocalist Bernard Fowler was from Queens, earning him extra applause. Charlie Watts played a drumroll during the introduction for "Mr. Keith Richards!". Keith commented, "It's rough out there, you know. Happy New Year, anyway".

     With a misty tempo, Richards sang his power ballad "Slipping Away". The song was empowered by the Horn section with Blondie Chaplin adding support on acoustic guitar. Richards turned in a stunning guitar solo for the coda.

     With Chaplin switching to electric guitar, Richards launched into his 1978 composition, "Before They Make Me Run". The rhythm rocked as Darryl Jones laid bass runs, and the Horn section pumped up the volume. Richards and Ron Wood jammed together front & center, which aroused the house excitement level.

     The Sticky Fingers classic, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", might just be the major highpoint during the Licks concert. The mercurial talents of this band coalesce into an eargasm of sound on stage. Wood plays his guitar like a siren, Bobby Keys blasts away during his saxophone solo, Jagger breathes life into his harmonica solo, and Watts pounds out rapid percussive beats like a doorknocker.

     Branded as a 'war horse' by some fans, "Satisfaction" is an aural amphetamine at every Stones concert. The crowd literally comes alive, transforming into a trance dance. Peculiarly, Richards stroked two false starts before he kick-started his famous guitar riff into melodic motion.

     Richards' guitar amplification sounded louder during his multiple solos. His guitar lines and Watts' drumbeats made for a killer combination as the Garden audience sang along on the chorus. The Stones really satisfied the crowd with an outstanding rendition of "Satisfaction".

     The Stones played a raunchy version of "When The Whip Comes Down" from Some Girls on the B-stage. Jagger strummed an electric guitar, but Woodie delivered the intense guitar solo during the organized chaos on the intimate stage. The band exited through the Garden floor to build excitement for the encore.

     The Garden was treated to a double encore. Orange stage lighting set the mood for an incredible rendition of "Sympathy For The Devil". Jagger was in strong vocal form as Richards tore into his guitar solos with fierce determination. Backing vocalist Lisa Fisher appeared in her short dress and wrap for the encore.

     With barely a pause, Richards immediately struck his electric guitar to begin the finale, "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Red paper petals rained down from above as the band cranked up the 1968 classic rocker. Jones jammed on bass, dancing in circles. The Horn section appeared on stage for the extended crescendo as the Stones spent the energy of the audience in a final moment of audio exhilaration.

NYC Jan 16 setlist: Street Fighting Man * Start Me Up * If You Can't Rock Me * Don't Stop * Monkey Man * Angie * Let It Bleed (with Hubert Sumlin) * Live With Me * Midnight Rambler * Tumbling Dice * introductions * Slipping Away (Keith) * Before They Make Me Run (Keith) * Gimme Shelter * You Got Me Rocking * Can't You Hear Me Knocking * Honky Tonk Women * Satisfaction * It's Only Rock'n Roll (B-stage) * When The Whip Comes Down (B-stage) * Brown Sugar (B-stage) * Encore: Sympathy For The Devil * Jumpin' Jack Flash

RockonTour    Issue #17
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2003 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Stones bite the Big Apple
Blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin jams on Garden stage

by Timothy Tilghman