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Hamburg memories

(Posted to Undercover on 09/12/2017)

Preface: Just my very personal view. Apologies for possible spelling and grammar errors.

On Friday my wife Angie & I took a walk around the concert ground. It was a nice teaser to see the back of the stage across the lake, but besides that we could not see much of the setup. The whole park was closed off by fences, so we could only see the upper part of the huge video towers from far away. It was almost constantly raining. There was no sound check on Friday, unfortunately we were on the plane during the sound check on Thursday.

Friday evening we had our "Glimmer Gathering" at the Cafe Borchers in Hamburg Eppendorf. We sat together at two tables outside under the rain shields. Still the weather was alternating between drizzling rain and heavy showers and the temperature dropped to around 10°C. But that did not spoil the mood, we had dinner, drinks and lots of chatting. So much fun to hug everybody again after years! This was our lineup:

Johannes & Petra
Axel & Silvia
Thomas & Angie
Peter Den Hartog
Bruce Haynes
Gerd & Ollie
(Unfortunately Roland and Bob couldn't make it)

Saturday ... show day! Unfortunately we didn't manage to GG before the show for different reasons - the bad weather, some going early, some coming late, various ticket categories etc. Nandita, Debbie and Ellen had 'No Filter Pit', Thierry & Crisss, Angie & I, Bob and Martin had seats FOS, Axel & Silvia and Ro had 'Silver Pit' standing, Johannes & Petra Lucky Dip (but weren’t lucky enough to get 'No Filter Pit').

Around late afternoon Keith waved his magic stick, the rain finally stopped and it kept dry throughout the night, though still cool. Angie & I arrived around 5:30 pm and filtered into the flow of the masses rolling from the subway to the concert ground. It was a long 1.5 km walk through sometimes muddy paths, trying to avoid the puddles.
At our entrance they had a 3-stage security concept. First was a short control for not allowed items like bags/backpacks and to divide the flow into groups of people to avoid a jam further on (which did not really work).
Next you had to dive into the crowd for the body check. It depended on the individual usher, some were strict and thorough, some were superficial. I heard they sent even people carrying small compact cameras back to the deposit station! Of course boys and girls were separated into different queues, which caused even more chaos and resulted in Angie and me loosing contact. Thank god we united at our seats later on :)
Last step was the ticket scan and you finally made it. I wonder if all that security effort makes any sense at all? Where is security in the queues in front of the gates or when thousands of people stream through the exits after the show?

We found our seats, 8th row front of stage, Ronnie's side. Got me one of the special No Filter cups at one of the incredibly crowded drink stands.
I shortly met Bob, Thierry & Crisss in the seating area, high-fived Nandita, Ellen and Deb on their way into the Pit and ran into Johannes & Petra at one of the tribunes.
Everybody was excited :)

I hardly payed attention to the opener 'Kaleo' from Iceland. I think they did not raise anybody from his seat.

The venue was really full, practically sold out, a HUGE crowd of 82,000 people (I saw a aerial photograph which I will post later). In addition, police reported ~16,000 people listening outside in the park. Remarkable that the boys still attract such masses :)

They started the show at ~8:30 pm with Sympathy, which was a surprise at this slot. First some pre-recorded rhythms, then Mick entering alone and singing the first verses, then the rest of the band crashed-in with the first chords. Whooo Hooo!

I liked the stage design. Pure and simple, lacking all the knick-knack they presented on previous tours. The Pit was not a single spot surrounded by the catwalk, but consisted of a single catwalk of ~25 meters ending in a small stage-like area, with two Pit areas right and left of the catwalk. You saw the pictures on the net. I heard there was a narrow tunnel to switch sides, but only until the show started. However, they didn't use the catwalk often, just Mick a few times, Keith and Ronny two or three times.

On the four towers looking like huge smartphones they presented a fantastic video show. Most often showing one of the band members, sometimes close-ups of Keith/Ronnie picking a string or Charlie's sticks, sometimes artistic images psychedelic effects in all colors you can imagine.
Really impressive and huge (at least when standing near the stage), the best video coverage I've seen so far. Well, there are tons of videos on YouTube you probably have seen already.

One thing that raised Hamburg into my top shows ranking was the incredibly good sound at the place we were standing. Everything was so clear and crisp, the guitars were cracking fresh and loud, each instrument could be separated, nothing too loud or to silent, no echoes or anything. Just unbelievable!

I won't comment on each song, just some memories of my personal highlights:
Just Your Fool and Ride 'Em On Down: The Blue & Lonesome part was what I was really hoping for, and it was big fun to watch the boys playing that stuff. Pure and simple as it should be, just the Blues! Enjoyed that immensely. For me they could have played the whole record :-)

Play With Fire: Nice surprise, love the old stuff! Though, I think it was not highly appreciated by the crowd, just lukewarm reactions.

Missed the choir in YCAGWYW :)

Dancing with Mr. D.: Of course the biggest surprise. Thank you Lord!! Played with some lumps and bumps and could improve with a little more rehearsal, but a rarity and a gem for us hardcore fans :)

Under My Thumb: I'm not sure I ever had it live, and I liked it a lot. Some complained it was played too slow, but for me it felt right, like the Altamont version.

Keith's set: Always a highlight for me, love the man. After a technician had brought the microphone stand, he joked: "Well, a microphone helps!". His smile always melts my heart. Then he couldn't resist a small side-swipe to Mick, saying "I'm not gonna screw you up with bad German". After he put on the guitar, he seemed to remember something was missing and croaked "Ah... and good to be anywhere!". LOL.

Slipping Away brought a tear in my eye, love this song presented by this warm-hearted man. Always gives me goose bumps. Thank you, Keef!

Ronnie's solo in Midnight Rambler was just stunning. Incredible weirdo :)

The good thing about Miss You was the fact that I could sit down and rest my legs :-). Had this too often and kind of bores me, except the extended bass solo of Darryl was great.

Looking at the warhorse section, I liked Street Fighting Man best, I haven't heard it live often. Though, in my memory the version of Düsseldorf was even more powerful and crashing.

General observations: The set of 22 songs and ~2:15 hours was more than I had expected. I hope they don't drop the gems played in Hamburg throughout the tour.
The band is as hot as ever, definitely.
Despite some Keith-bashing on IORR, my personal impression is he was just a little nervous and concentrated on making no mistakes. Yes, he's getting old, he misses a note here and there, but his riffs are still the essence of the Stones sound. The riffmaster.

Mick is still the greatest singer and entertainer in Rock music in my opinion. His singing and harmonica play in the Blue & Lonesome set was so bluesy! He is of course not such a Jumping Jack any more as 10 or 20 years ago, but still thrills the crowds and definitely ran more miles than we did on our way to the venue :)

Well, Charlie is Charlie - what can I say? The solid, reliable basement as always. Well done, Mr. Watts!
Ronnie is really amazing, I sometimes forget what a great guitarist he is!
I missed Bobby. Brown Sugar without Bobby is not the same :-(

After the fireworks we made our way through the darkness on muddy paths following the masses through the park to the subway.
Public transport was unexpectedly quick and easy for us. On Sunday we made our way home to Frankfurt.

Conclusion: Phantastic show, great setlist, amazing sound, happy to be part of the Glimmer Crew!


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