The Rolling Stones proved they are undisputed champions of live performance at the First Union Center. The British Invasion veterans took Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by force on Friday, September 20, 2002. Their 22 song set was simply an amazing display of prolific professionalism at its peak.

     Keith Richards sounded the charge on his guitar by strumming the opening chords of "Street Fighting Man". Mick Jagger followed with his grand entrance into the arena as the Stones took the venue by storm. With the arena on its feet, Jagger, Richards, and Ron Wood crisscrossed paths on stage. The sound was in perfect balance.

     Jagger asked, "Hey Philadelphia, how you doing tonight?"With that quick query, "If You Can't Rock Me" rocked! This song was tailor made to be a concert opener, but fans should be happy to hear it at all since it has not been played since their 1976 tour. Charlie Watts was dynamite on this smoking version, truly a stellar rendition.

     Like gunslingers in crime, Richards and Wood tore into the intro for "All Down The Line". Chuck Leavell contributed his stylistic piano accompaniment, the horn section punched up the number, and Wood ripped on a bottle neck lead. Jagger was gigging about on stage, dancing his bum off to applause from the Philly audience.

     Jagger announced the album theme of the evening as Let It Bleed with the cover displayed like an ABKCO advert. They commenced with the bittersweet ballad, "Love In Vain". Wood was seated playing dobro guitar, his solos greeted with cheers. Freeway footage worked within the lyric content of the cover song. Watts and Leavell added their personal touches to this incredible rare, live take.

     Jagger quipped, "Ronnie Wood on cigarette", during his introduction. Richards was greeted with cheers and remarked, "Hey Philly, two out of three, right?" As the horn section sounded off, he led the band through a rocking version of "Happy" with Blondie Chaplin on acoustic guitar, and Wood seated again for dobro guitar.

     The Stones delivered a tight rendition of "I Can't Turn You Loose". This Otis Redding classic alternates at concerts as a soul cover for the band to flex their adaptability. Jagger swaggered out in a white hat and long overcoat, prancing around the stage. The audience was totally swept up by the moment as the Pied Piping Pimp led the crowd through an ecstatic funked-up groove.

     Richards crunched out the intro for "Start Me Up" complemented by a strong vocal by Jagger. Watts toughened up the version with his magnificent drumming, and Wood touched off a screaming guitar solo. Those red lips lapped out a long lick at the conclusion of this killer rocker, titillating the crowd.

     Richards attacked the melody of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" on his electric guitar. Bobby Keys wailed on saxophone, and Wood soared on his guitar solos. Jagger snarled on harmonica, kneeling on stage at one point for dramatic effect. A couple enjoyed a lap dance together in the stands during the extended percussion jam, and a pucker from those red lips flashed quickly on the screen.

     Richards nailed "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", churning out the infamous melody on his guitar neck. The arena audience sang along as search lights scoured inside the venue. Blondie Chaplin supported this intense version on acoustic guitar with Watts stoking the drumfire to empower this major crowd-pleaser.

     "How y'all doing down there?", was Jagger's B-stage greeting. The second stage encore was Jagger's 1971 single, "Brown Sugar", which originally launched Rolling Stones Records. An outstanding work out on the intimate stage, the band was joined by Keys for his blistering saxophone solo. The band exited straight through the crowd through a floor tunnel.

     A tongue slowly ignited on screen as red lights added to the ambiance of a burning encore version of "Sympathy For The Devil". Jagger was joined in a duet of the background chorus by Lisa Fisher. The tongue fire slowly receded away as the song came to a conclusion of cheers and applause.

     "Jumpin' Jack Flash" cranked as red paper rose petals pelted the audience. Richards, Wood, and Darryl Jones anchored center stage together in a circle jam. A sign reading BANZI KEITH was caught on camera as the trio participated in the intense crescendo. Watts beat the life out of his skins on this 34 year old classic rocker.

     Four signs thanking each Stone by name were shown on screen. A group bow preceded the final four bow. In a major surprise, Watts walked over to his drumkit, tossing one drumstick into the crowd and handing the other to an audience member. Those red female lips returned one final time to smooch a red lipstick print on the video screen.

First Union Center setlist: Street Fighting Man * It's Only Rock'n Roll * If You Can't Rock Me * Don't Stop * All Down The Line * Love In Vain * Live With Me * Monkey Man * Gimme Shelter * Tumbling Dice * introductions * Slipping Away (Keith) * Happy (Keith) * I Can't Turn You Loose * Start Me Up * Honky Tonk Women * Can't You Hear Me Knocking * (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction * Beast Of Burden (B-stage) * Miss You (B-stage) * Brown Sugar (B-stage) * Encore: Sympathy For The Devil * Jumpin' Jack Flash

RockonTour   Issue #13
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Stoned in an Arena
Pumped up on a Rolling Stones high

by Timothy Tilghman