The Rolling Stones took to the road in 1997 to promote their best album in years: "Bridges to Babylon." That tour would travel the globe until September 1998, just days short of a full year on the road. Of course, a Rolling Stones tour isn't like packing five scruffy band mates into an Econoline van and toughing out eight hour drives on icy roads anymore. No way! These days its 5-star hotels, private jets, personal masseuses, and caviar (if you like expensive fish eggs). On February 15, 1998 Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood and the troupe rolled into 'The Joint,' the 1400-seat theater at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel for a special performance in front of the likes of Sting, Eddie Murphy, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Johnny Depp. The ulta-elite show wrapped up the North american leg of the Rolling Stones "Bridges to Babylon" Tour.
Four months earlier, the tour had settled into Foxboro Stadium for two nights on October 20 and 21, with Sheryl Crow opening the shows. Destined to be demolished five years later, the venerable home of the New England Patriots during the lean years had hosted the Stones for three nights in 1989 during the "Steel Wheels" tour and then again for a pair of shows in '94. This would be the grandest spectacle of all those visits, though, as the legendary outfit with their famous tongue logo in tow, blew away 42,000 fans each night.
A massive explosion stage center blinded those looking and Keith Richards emerged from the smoke blasting the chords to "Satisfaction," the group's first #1 in America; from 1965 and fresher than ever 32 years later! Four songs later it was the highlight for this reporter - Mick Jagger dueting with backup singer Lisa Fischer on a densely pulsing "Gimme Shelter." As the song reached for climax, Jagger set Fischer free to soar well beyond where he could go, her wailing and shouting over Richards' and Ron Woods' coitally joined guitars sending the anthem from "Let it Bleed" into an exhausting frenzy. I wanted to have a cigarette afterwards, and I don't even smoke!
The fans got to vote for a song choice on this tour and that selection on this night was "Star Star" with its few dozen F-bombs lighting up the loges. The Stones also got loose on their B-stage, which the band members accessed after a bridge telescoped, like a firefighter's extension ladder, from the main stage out to the tiny postage-stamp-sized platform in the middle of the field. After doing three deeper tracks in the less formal setting (like the early days at London's Marquee Club), including Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie," "Crazy Mama," and "Last Time," it was back to the bells and whistles on the big stage to end with a numbing salvo of hit after hit after hit. After "Sympathy," "Tumblin' Dice," "Honky-Tonk Women," "Start Me Up," and "Jumping Jack Flash" all in a row, they chose about the only song powerful enough to encore with - "Brown Sugar."
By then we could barely clap and our voices had been reduced to ragged whispers. Oh yeah, we couldn't hear each other very well either. We staggered out into the stadium's random parking lots (remember those? The dirt ones were expecially fun) and slowly oozed like cold motor out onto Route 1 for hours of bumper to bumper playtime. But it was all worth it and more. The Rolling Stonres had proven once again why they were called "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World!"