Rolling Stones Cast Spell on Chicago

Soldier Field

September 12, 1994

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 1994, Volume 1, #5

Written by John Metzger


The Rolling Stones brought their bombastic world tour to Chicago on September 12 and 13, 1994. I managed to catch the Sunday show (9/12), which was opening night in the Windy City.

The Rolling Stones pushed everything to the absolute maximum with high energy, high volume, and more lights than I've ever seen before in my life. It certainly looked like the band was ready to retire in Las Vegas! Flames shot out of the stage that must have singed a few in the front row. The stage itself fully stretched across Soldier Field, and stood higher than the top of the stadium. A gigantic Jumbotron screen, mixing computer animated images with footage of the band, was positioned just over center stage for those in the far reaches of Soldier Field. (Speaking of which, just where WERE those cheaper seats?!)

The Rolling Stones took the stage to the pounding beat of Not Fade Away, a song they recorded more than 30(!!) years ago. The band looked minuscule compared with the size of the stage. It was amazing to see Mick Jagger running rampant, back and forth, like a madman. Even Keith Richards, who looked better than he has in a long time, ran around his end of the stage like someone half his age.

Only a third of the way through the show, the band blasted out a fantastic version of Satisfaction that sounded amazingly fresh compared with the number of times they must have played it. A well played, Beast of Burden followed, and was one of the very few mellow moments to the night.

Sadly, there were only a few moments of true inspiration as most of the songs sounded rehearsed and didn't allow the band to break open a jam. This was not the case with Miss You which really allowed everyone to play to the fullest. The saxophone player was absolutely amazing and was spotlighted on this one.

Another disappointment was the lack of slower songs. There were no Out Of Tears, Blinded By Rainbows, or any of the other heart-wrenching, emotional tunes that Jagger sings so well. Instead, it was an all-out onslaught of rock n' roll in the style of Country Honk, Street Fighting Man, and Start Me Up. All of the songs off the new album that were performed were in this mold. The best of these was the hit Love is Strong. While the band pounded this one out, and Jagger played his blues harmonica, giant inflatable dolls in the shape of Elvis and other figures popped out of the top of the stage. These stuck around through a killer version of Monkey Man.

There was only one encore to the show, a drawn-out version of Jumping Jack Flash which gave everyone that last chance to expend any remaining energy. The traditional Soldier Field fireworks followed the show, but were a huge let-down compared with those provided for the Grateful Dead show in July.

Lenny Kravitz provided a kick-ass opening to the show and was much better than I expected him to be. One song jammed for more than 15 minutes and took more than a passing nod towards the Stones' Can You Hear Me Knocking? Too bad the Rolling Stones didn't take to jamming like Kravitz did!

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Copyright 1994 The Music Box