Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Like A Rolling Stone (But Not Quite)

By Jim Hanas and Mark Jordan

APRIL 19, 1999: 

Performer: The Rolling Stones

Claim To Fame: "World's Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band," creators of such rock anthems as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Sympathy For The Devil," and "Honky Tonk Woman"

Venue: The Pyramid

Venue Description: Cavernous 20,000-seat basketball arena.

Date: April 8, 1999

Time: Opening act started at 8 p.m.

Opening Act: Blues-rock phenom Jonny Lang.

Press Treatment: Members of the media who had requested tickets appeared before a representative of the Rolling Stones label, Virgin. They then had to present ID and report when their story would run before receiving their tickets.

Photo Policy: Fans seemingly shot away with impunity. Members of the media had to wait in an office in the belly of The Pyramid. At 9 p.m., they were escorted to the photo staging area on the arena floor. Photographers were allowed to shoot without flashes for the first two songs of the set. Television and radio media were allowed to record the first two minutes of the first two songs. After the first two songs, all photographers and radio representatives were escorted from The Pyramid and not allowed back in without a ticket.

Backstage Access: None.

Attendance: 20,436

Percentage There To See The Headline Act: 100 percent.

Crowd: Overwhelmingly white; a surprising mix of baby boomers, twentysomethings, and teenagers.

Stage: Following a construction-site motif, the stage was trimmed in yellow and black hazard tape. A bridge led off the main stage to a smaller stage in the middle of the arena where the band played a stripped-down mini-set that included "Midnight Rambler." A wide-screen video monitor over the main stage and video feeds to the scoreboard's monitors gave all in The Pyramid close-up views of the bandmembers.

First Song: "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

Initial Crowd Reaction: Cheers, hoots.

Lead Singer Mick Jagger's Appearance: Changed shirts and jackets throughout the show, the one constant being black jeans. Close-ups on the video monitors prompted one concert-goer to observe, "He's sagging."

Keith Richards Smoking: No. Nary a stick.

Charlie Watts' Facial Expression: Stoic.

Composition of Set: 20 songs, including encore, culled from throughout their career. Only three recent songs.

Length of Set: As media were advised beforehand, almost two hours exactly from first song to final bow.

Crowd Response: Plenty of head-bobbing. More cheers and hoots. Sporadic dancing.

Show Biz: State-of-the-art light show. Video feed with television-quality production standards. Following a couple of Richards-sung numbers, Jagger rose up out of the stage on a platform. Jagger teased the crowd all night by pretending to be about to throw a shirt or towel into the audience. He never did.

Stage Banter: Minimal. Delivered in a fake-sounding British accent.

Things Thrown on Stage: Flowers (which were sold in The Pyramid), a brassiere (D cup from the looks of it).

High Point: Crouched down on his knees, Richards plucks the opening riff to "Honky Tonk Woman." Crowd begins to sing along with Jagger. When he sings the word "Memphis," audience erupts.

Encore: "Sympathy For the Devil," complete with programmed percussion.

Groupies: Presumably.

Post-show Interview: Please. --M.J.



Performer: Sticky Fingers

Claim To Fame: Tribute to the "World's Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band"

Venue: Bullion Bar, Gold Strike Casino Resort

Venue Description: A raised nook above a bar, hidden behind rows of slot machines.

Date: April 8, 1999

Time: 8 p.m. (with a "completely different set" at 10 p.m.)

Opening Act: N/A, although the marquee next to the stage listed a band called "Southern Pride" for the 8 o'clock time slot.

Press Treatment: Casual. Met in hotel lobby by resort official who led reporter and photographer through casino to site of performance. Buffet comps proffered, declined.

Photo Policy: Open

Backstage Access: Unlimited. Supervision provided.

Attendance: Fluctuating; peaking around 40.

Percentage There To See The Headline Act: Roughly 0.

Crowd: People hunkered over slot machines and video gambling displays set into bar. A few loitering on stools; some enjoying cocktails involving whipped cream.

Stage: Backed with tinsel, decorated with one (1) image of Rolling Stones lips, one (1) sign reading "Sticky Fingers," one (1) sign reading "The Rolling Stones," and two (2) images of blue jeans vaguely resembling front and back of Sticky Fingers album cover, respectively.

First Song: "Under My Thumb."

Initial Crowd Reaction: Cheers, hoots.

Lead Singer Dick Swagger's Appearance: Various. Football pants remained constant, successively paired with a Rolling Stones hockey jersey, a Detroit Lions football jersey (B. Sanders), and a San Francisco 49er's football jersey (Young). Eyeliner was observable.

Richard Keith Smoking: Yes.

Harley Watts' Facial Expression: See Charlie Watts' facial expression.

Composition of Set: 12 songs, all from Emotional Rescue or earlier.

Length of Set: 1 hour (not including "completely different set" scheduled to begin at 10 p.m.)

Crowd Response: Mild head-bobbing, ambivalence, continuation of gaming activity. One man with name-patch sewn on shirt did briefly sing along to "Shattered," but it is believed he had just won something.

Show Biz: Swagger exits stage, reappears on casino floor, sings in faces of several of those in attendance, returns to stage.

Stage Banter: Copious. Delivered in fake-sounding British accent.

Things Thrown on Stage: N/A

High Point: Swagger groans "You will be mine, you will be mine, you will be mine, all mine" at blonde cocktail waitress through service-bar pass-through window.

Encore: N/A (not including, of course, the "completely different set" scheduled for 10 p.m.)

Groupies: Possible Marianne Faithfull tribute artist spotted in vicinity of Elvis slots.

Post-show Interview: Revealed that a Rolling Stones tribute band called Sticky Fingers that recently played Columbus, Ohio, during a Stones tour stop is in fact not the same band just witnessed by reporter. Voice from other room expresses belief that other, Columbus-sighted Rolling Stones tribute band dubbed Sticky Fingers may be breaking up. Band members appear visibly relieved, as does reporter. -- J.H.


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