Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Rolling Stones @ Marina Bay Sands

MARCH 19 UPDATE: I offer my sincerest condolences to Mick Jagger and family. I'm as disappointed as everyone else who had tickets to the upcoming shows in Australia, but postponing of the tour had to done [link]. There was no other way around it. I look forward to the day when I can see the band live one last time at the Adelaide Oval.

The Sands Grand Ballroom may be the biggest of its kind in Asia, but it's definitely not the place to hold any rock concert. The fact that it was very wide made for not-so-good sight lines for those seated at the sides. At least the organizers made these 'cheaper' seats (not so cheap) elevated, if not we would be watching the show on the screens because the height of the stage was so low. There were small standing pits at the extreme ends of the stage, probably set up to maximize the capacity as much as possible. To allow for more intimacy, there was a catwalk which extended quite far out into the small room. The room acoustics sucked though, so much so they made the opening Jumpin' Jack Flash sound really weird. Once the show began, many people started filling up the aisles, but kudos to the lax security for not doing anything. The sound did improve as the show went on and only hit its stride halfway through. I wouldn't have minded if I didn't get tickets to this show, as I was already going to watch them in Adelaide. But there's a feeling unlike anything else seeing the world's greatest rock & roll band in your home country. Singapore was the last stop on the Asian tour. Mick Jagger said that when the band played Singapore in 1965, it was their first show in Asia. I think it's safe to say the Stones won't be coming back to this part of the world anymore, given their age.

The band's performance was simply top-notch. The sound was raw and had that unrehearsed, ragged quality to it. I don't recall Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards hitting any bump notes. Charlie Watts, as much as he didn't look like he wanted to be there, was on fire. Keef put on great vocal performances on the lesser known Slipping Away and Before They Make Me Run. Other than that, it was a very safe, greatest hits-type setlist. I'm certainly not complaining; all these warhorses are what made The Rolling Stones so legendary and it's always good to hear them live. But I felt they could've slipped in a couple more deeper cuts like they did during the North American tour last year (actually I felt those 50 & Counting shows had better song sequences). Mick's singing, not to mention, moves, hit all the right spots, except when he went off-key during the first two verses of Sympathy For The Devil. The song request that oddly got the most votes was Live With Me, and not Let's Spend The Night Together. Highlights were Lisa Fischer belting it out on a near-flawless Gimme Shelter, and Mick Taylor coming out to rip it up on Midnight Rambler, the absolute best performance of the night. The local choir introducing You Can't Always Get What You Want, note for note just like on the record, gave me lotta goosebumps. And the way their voices blended with the band was so damn good -- for a while it felt like a gospel revival. The show ended at exactly two hours, which is kinda short (I admit I'm spoiled after seeing Springsteen). But it was an enjoyable experience overall, one I hope will be much improved in a stadium setting in Adelaide this coming Saturday. What really made my night was hearing Mick Jagger making comments in Singlish in between songs!

The view from the S$400 seats

Jumpin’ Jack Flash
You Got Me Rocking
It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)
Tumbling Dice
Wild Horses
Doom And Gloom
Live With Me
Honky Tonk Women
Slipping Away
Before They Make Me Run
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter
Start Me Up
Sympathy For The Devil
Brown Sugar

You Can’t Always Get What You Want
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction