"Four Nights In a Football Stadium"
Four shows in 1994 clearly set a precedent for the Rolling Stones to stand-up to, and San Francisco Bay Area concert-goers were not about to let the band down. Tickets for the first show were first made available by the Sprint tour sponsor. Phone lines were very busy and a one day delay in availability added to the frustration. Being a Sprint customer, is the "condition" getting early access to tickets. General ticket distribution took place one week after the Sprint promotion. As in 1994, the Bay Area ticket distributor Bass conducted a "line lottery" to prevent people from camping out at ticket outlets. Both November 14th and 15th went on sale simultaneously, with the 15th date being virtually unannounced. One and a half hours after the first two shows went on sale a third show was added on November 18th. Here we go again! Rumors were flying about a fourth show being added, and with a significant amount of the third show sold a fourth was added about four weeks before the Oakland opener. The two 60,000 seat shows for Friday and Saturday were sold out with total gross ticket sales exceeding 220,000!
And now . . .
Friday: November 14, 1997
Pearl Jam (PJ) was the show opener which made for an eclectic mix of fans that included gray hair pony tail types and younger people with black cloths, nose rings, and various color shades of hair. Singer Eddie Vedder joked with guitarist Mike McCready that he was so much of a Stones fan that he knew the number of grooves in records like "Some Girls" and "Hot Rocks" and recited the figures at Vedder's request.
The Rolling Stones: The night was electrified by the anticipation of the Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band in the World. The crowd was on edge and the band was right there with them. Jagger is well aware that the opening night is the show that will get reviewed by the press, and the band delivered a conservative but clean performance. We are treated to a great version of the Web Pick Dead Flowers, and a rough around the edges version of When The Whip Comes Down on the b-stage. Jagger takes the queue from Vedder and has his own questions for Wood during the band introductions:
Jagger: "And Ronnie knows how many notes on Pearl Jam's record 'Ten'. How many are there?"
Jagger: "Thank You"
Actor Johnny Depp, Michael Richards of "Seinfeld", Dennis Franz of "NYPD Blue", former California Governor Jerry Brown, and Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.
Saturday: November 15,1997
PJ: Vedder comments on the tensions in the Gulf region and says to the effect that if world leaders would just listen to Brown Sugar and get on with life the world would better place. They include Alive and Yellow Ledbetter in the second night set.
The Rolling Stones: The band has overcome the trials and tribulations of the First Night Stand, and we see and hear a more relaxed version of the undisputed kings of stadium rock 'n roll. Jagger follows-up on Vedder's comments about the Gulf and gives his own assessment of the situation:
"I want to thank Pearl Jam for doin' such a good set earlier on, it was really great. I liked his idea about Saddam Hussien and Bill Clinton, so I sent him a FAX and they are coming on Tuesday. I don't know where they're gonna sit." Set specialties include an inspired version of Sister Morphine and the "up-tempo" Bitch.
Two Days Wait
The local press reported that the band was laying low this time around with Jagger spending most of his time with his daughter with Marsha Hunt, Karis who now lives in San Francisco. In 1994 the band took in the sights at Muir Woods and the Maritime Museum
Tuesday: November 18, 1997
PJ: It rained heavily on Pearl Jam on this night by the San Francisco Bay. The band played very well despite the downpour. Incredibly, it all but stopped 10 minutes before the Stones went on.
The Rolling Stones: We had first deck seats that were high up under the cover of the second deck which kept us dry during the PJ set. The problem was a somewhat obstructed view, and not-so-great sound. There are two available seats next to us, and two people come over to sit down for the Stones show, but these are not their seats. The guy's wife doesn't want to get soaked, and they just witnessed a downpour on PJ. We ask them where their seats are, and they answer F9 L27. Hey, how about a trade? Okay done. We end up marching down to the field 25 feet away from the b-stage. It didn't rain for the entire set until Brown Sugar. Couldn't believe it! The Web Pick was Star Star and Jagger replaces Ali McGraw with none other than Pattie Boyd. The former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton. She was also the girl friend of one Ron Wood, and is said to be the inspiration of songs that include All You Need Is Love, Something, Layla, and Wonderful Tonight.
Wednesday: November 19, 1997
PJ: The band does a two minute version of Beast Of Burden! They were a class opening act. Vedder also comments on the hospitality of Stones and being allowed access to their hotel rooms.
The Rolling Stones: The Web Pick of the evening is Waiting On A Friend with none other than PJ vocalist Eddie Vedder! I gotta tell ya, the guy looked scared and like the people that attended these shows it was an incredible sight of Generation-X and Baby Boomer extraordinaire. We also heard for the first time live Keith's You Don't Have To Mean It. Ronnie Wood is featured on the keyboard.
All four shows withstood the threat of rain as it would seem impossible to rain on such an enduring and vital talent. Having four consecutive shows 40 minutes from where I live has been a dream come true on the last two tours. When it finally came time for the band to move on I missed both the routine and nightly spectacle. Fortunately, this wasn't the end and there was much more to look forward to with the next stop being Las Vegas . . . "On With The Show".
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