U2 October (2001) Revisited
As U2 closes its 8 concert run at Madison Square Garden tonight, we look back at their greatest MSG show.
Although New York has been the site of multiple U2 triumphs from their first US show at The Ritz in December 1980 to the surprise Brooklyn Bridge performance in November 2004, the world was suddenly a different place when U2 took over the city and the Madison Square Garden stage from October 24-27, 2001, the month after terrorists leveled the World Trade Towers, killing over 2,600 victims in and around the Towers.
The October 25th U2 show is the classic of the lot, and one of the most monumental rock shows in the Garden’s storied history, up there with the Stones’ 1969 and 1972 shows, the 1971 Bangladesh concerts, Zeppelin’s 1973 run, and the 1988 Atlantic Records 13 hour marathon. Some would also include Phish’s 1995 New Year’s Eve concert to that lofty list.
As the crowd grew restless after the opening set by Garbage, the angst was palpable and the house PA reminded us all that it was 20 years ago (not exactly) today, that U2 first came to NYC, to the strains of Sergeant Pepper, as the band entered the stark stage to the lead off track from their then latest album, Elevation. The pent up anger, fear, and frustration of the collective found its perfect release as the house jumped and rocked. Elevate Me!!! Bono kept giving the new material highlights with an even higher aspiration of beauty and hope as they tore into Beautiful Day. Touch Me! And take me to the higher place! Teach me love!
Jesus, this is Judas. Next is Until the End of the World, with every song, every lyric, taking on new meaning in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The band is ferocious and empathetic at once, feeling the crowd, feeding off the crowd, and exploding with passion back. A lost wandering searching crying “love love love love.” With the first (nearly) overt reference to 9/11, Bono ends the song with a flash of Two Tribes.
The setlist for this third leg of the tour was modified to address the recent terrorist strikes, by adding New York, Angel of Harlem, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and Marvin Gaye's What’s Going On.
The show built to its emotional crescendo as victims’ names were scrolled on the screens during the final songs One and Walk On. The crowd could not hold it back any longer as most openly and uncontrollably wept. Catharsis at last.
A top 10 list. For the 90s. Do we need any rules? Not really. Well, they have to be a band (no Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, or Matthew Sweet), and they have to be American (no U2, Radiohead, or Oasis).
So, in no order, how about
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Guns N Roses
Since Nirvana is our lodestar here, it is perfectly ok for a band to only have two great albums in the 90s. Let's break down the primary triumphs of each (studio albums for here and now):
Nirvana (Nevermind, In Utero)
Smashing Pumpkins (Gish, Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie)
Pavement (Slanted and Enchanted, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, Wowee Zowee)
REM (Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster)
Hole (Live Through This, Celebrity Skin)
Sonic Youth (Goo, Dirty, Washing Machine, 1000 Leaves)
Pearl Jam (10, Vs, Vitalogy)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (Blood Sugar Sex Majik, Californication)
Guns N Roses (Use Your Illusion I and II)
Wilco (Being There, Summerteeth)
Bands that will get some love and support, but not crack our top 10 here, are likely
Alice In Chains
Nine Inch Nails
Rage Against the Machine
Yo La Tengo
Guided By Voices
To create the Perfect Playlist, I've tried to impossibly accommodate the new initiate and the tape trading Deadhead alike. Impossible to appease both?
The central question revolves around Dark Star. The most important Grateful Dead song, and the song that served for the band's greatest live triumphs and its fans' greatest trips. But how do we justify a 27 minute song consuming so much of our precious 80 minute playlist. Similar questions arise for other concert favorites. The calculus becomes easier if we limit ourselves to "studio" albums rather than entirely live performances. As with all things Dead, even that dichotomy isn't simple. For true believers, the studio versions are not only beside the point, they're missing the point. The point of the Dead is the concert. Studio versions of songs are only useful as a blueprint for what the band would do with the song in concert. The studio versions are only useful for fans for evoking the concert versions. The great compilation album, What A Long Strange Trip It's Been includes nearly an album's worth of otherwise unavailable Dead songs (unavailable in studio versions, that is) that some fans treat as the lost missing album, but in live versions, of course. The Dead are, after all, a live experience.
So few bands of their stature and duration treat their fans to different setlists each night. Pearl Jam does. The most bootlegged live bands, from Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd generally played the same setlist every night during a tour. Springsteen changes it up a bit, but not a completely new setlist night after night. And really, with any band that you've loved, and become intensely familiar with, so that you have an opinion as to which live version of a song is best, how many times do you need to hear the classic studio versions again, when there are endless live iterations?
www.headyversion.com can direct you to the most popular live version of each song, with fan opinion and debate commentary. The usual Cornell and Veneta proponents abound. We're also treated to great and less well-known versions from across the world and across the decades.
So what have we done? We've stayed true and brought you a Perfect Playlist of (mostly) studio Grateful Dead, as our starting point. We can explore the Europe 72 tour once we know the language. Here we go, right at 80 minutes, hitting the highs from the twin 1970 triumphs Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, diving deeper into the early recordings, and the solo work. Including the concert favorites and some that I just like.
Box Of Rain American Beauty
Scarlet Begonias From The Mars Hotel
Fire On The Mountain Shakedown Street
Franklin's Tower Blues For Allah
Ripple American Beauty
The Golden Road The Grateful Dead
Jack Straw What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
China Cat Sunflower Aoxomoxoa
Till The Morning Comes American Beauty
Brown Eyed Woman What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
Ramble On Rose What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
Truckin' American Beauty
High Time Workingman's Dead
New Speedway Boogie Workingman's Dead
Sugar Magnolia American Beauty
Casey Jones Workingman's Dead
Uncle John's Band Workingman's Dead
Cassidy Ace (Bob Weir Solo)
For a band with such an extensive catalog, distilling its essence to 80 minutes means that very deserving songs have been left off the Perfect Playlist. If you'd like a deeper dive, and a second lick, try out:
One More Saturday Night What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
The Wheel Garcia
That's It For the Other One Anthem Of The Sun
Estimated Prophet Terrapin Station
The Music Never Stopped Blues For Allah
Shakedown Street Shakedown Street
To Lay Me Down Garcia
New, New Minglewood Blues The Grateful Dead
Althea Go To Heaven
Hell In A Bucket In The Dark
Doin' That Rag Aoxomoxoa
Eyes Of the World Wake Of The Flood
Cosmic Charlie Aoxomoxoa
U.S. Blues From The Mars Hotel
Touch Of Gray In The Dark
Bertha Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses)
Stella Blue Wake Of The Flood
Wharf Rat Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses)
Dark Star Live / Dead
St. Stephen What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
Bobby Dodd Stadium
June 9, 2015
It's time to start considering what kind of world we will leave to Keith Richards.
With two live guitars, live vocals, warts, wrinkles and all, The Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World proved once again that no one puts on a rock and roll show like The Rolling Stones. These guys have it down.
On our way to North Avenue Tuesday night, Scott reminisced traveling from Durham to Hampton Coliseum in 1981 and thinking at the time that was likely the band’s last hurrah. Here we are, 34 short years later, and the Stones remain unique masters of a music entirely their own.
If you’re putting together a list of 10 or 20 or 50 Stones’ songs you want to hear played live, it’s unlikely there will be any songs on your list that the Stones recorded after 1981. The only song they pulled out in Atlanta from the last 34 years was their very latest, Doom and Gloom. There wasn’t much "I was hoping they’d play that one" from the 40,000 plus, all white, all half a century old fans, festooned in their koncert kostumes, although the song was actually just fine, and Mick sang it like he might have meant it. There is no precedent, no map, for the road this band is traveling. Bluesmen played until they couldn’t, but not to sold-out football stadiums. The Stones are alone on this journey, and seem very happy to let us be voyeurs.
If you haven’t read Bill Wyman’s (not that Bill Wyman) imagined Mick Jagger article, and you love the Stones (and if you don’t, you’re in the wrong place), please allow me to introduce you to it here, among other places:
For Tuesday night’s Atlanta concert, the fifth of a fifteen date North American tour, not counting their private show for Ralph Whitworth, the band started appropriately with Start Me Up, rather than Jumpin’ Jack Flash, which had opened the first four shows on the tour. Jumpin’ Jack Flash was also the opening tune the last time the band came through Atlanta, at Philips Arena in 2006, on the Bigger Bang tour. Keith’s opening riff for JJF in 2006 made me fall in love with the Stones all over again, after a less than inspired or inspiring Bridges to Babylon show at the Georgia Dome in 1997. So disheartening was that show that Keith threw his black Gibson E-355 down to the ground in frustration after failing to make it play Gimme Shelter, and I skipped the Turner Field show in 2002.
Fledgling Ticket Alternative handled the ticketing, instead of the mighty Ticketmaster, and rumors of problems most evidently manifested themselves in massive lines for the multiple ticket resolution stations outside the venue.
The setlist is below, and the highlights remain the Beggars Bleed trio of Gimme Shelter, Sympathy for the Devil, and Midnight Rambler. These are the songs the band obviously cares about the most, with strong vocals and inspired guitar work. For a few moments of suspended disbelief, you could imagine these men are still capable of unspeakable evil. All Down The Line never quite got chugging along to find its groove and Happy was sloppy, but good fun, once Ronnie found the spark on the lap steel. Mick queer-ied over what key to play Some Girls in and left the black girls verse out, opting for a repeated Zuma Beach chorus over jam. We also got the first public performance of You Gotta Move since 1976.
Keith spent half the show mugging for the giant screen cameras with an “Aw shucks, who me?” pose. Although he can barely coax his fingers to navigate the fretboard these days, every movement he managed was classic. No digital tricks, just a tattered tele, clean sound, and open string tuning magic that only Keith can create. Head tilted back for an upward rake of the strings at the perfect off beat, or a two note slice, conveys more than a thousand slick runs down the neck by any other guitarist.
Ronnie pulled out his battered vintage Les Paul Standard Burst, literally held together with duct tape, for many of the Mick Taylor era songs, along with his usual assortment of exotic engraved metal axes. While we’re on the guitars, Mick sported a beautiful Gibson Hummingbird, and a ridiculous floppy hat (no, I do not) to help out on You Can’t Always Get What You Want, fronting the Emory University Concert Choir.
The giant video screens for those in the back of the football stadium mainly stuck with shots of the band. Some multi-colored dice during Tumbling Dice, some skulls during Doom and Gloom, and fun fire effects for Sympathy For the Devil, to highlight Mick’s extravagant feather boa drape, got limited screen time.
The band’s not so secret weapon remains that Charlie is a badass. eom
Start Me Up
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
All Down the Line
Doom and Gloom
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
You Gotta Move
Honky Tonk Women
Before They Make Me Run
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Sympathy for the Devil
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Notes on the setlist from the first five shows:
Jumpin’ Jack Flash opened the first four shows. It traded places with Start Me Up in Atlanta.
All Down The Line has swapped out with Let’s Spend The Night Together for alternating shows.
The Sticky Fingers duo has been Bitch and Moonlight Mile three times, adding Can’t You Hear Me Knocking the first night, and Bitch and Wild Horses once, before we were treated to a seated You Gotta Move and Ronnie’s extended showcase Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.
The fan choice song has been Street Fighting Man, Paint It, Black (you devil), Out Of Control (NP), and Rocks Off, prior to Atlanta’s Some Girls.
Keith’s duo has been: Slipping Away and Before They Make Me Run the first night, and Before They Make Me Run and Happy every other night.
The last 8 songs are the same every night, and are the heart of the show, except for the JJF / SMU switch in Atlanta.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want uses a local vocal chorale every night.
An extended setlist is in our playlist section. Check it out here:
It starts now
You can read the article here.
It's that time of year and Bob Dylan continues on the stage while the Rolling Stones return. I'm ready.