The Rolling Stones played at Fargo just this last Wednesday, February 17th, 1999. I was in attendance. Iím writing this the day after, and I'm still pumped up, as well as awe struck, by their performance. Maybe itís just the sleep deprivation Iím under right now (getting home at 3 a.m. isnít exactly fun) , but Iím still amazed at what a concert it was.
First of all, there was the actual getting of the tickets. Many people used many different methods to get theirs. I got mine as a Christmas gift that I really, really was yearning for. Being a pretty big Stones fan ever since I started going to school, I knew this would probably be one of the few (if not the only) Rolling Stones concert I could ever attend. And being it was in Fargo...I needed tickets!
So my dad and I each had a ticket. We left Bismarck at around 2:50 p.m. and reached Fargo around 6:00 p.m. Then, as always, we stopped by Fuddruckers to have 'the world's best hamburger.' Now it was time to shove off to the concert.
After weaving through a few curvy streets on NDSU's campus, we came upon the entrance of the Fargodome...and a huge line of vehicles, all waiting to get in to park. So we waited and, after only having to pay $2 to park, we started our trek "Into the center of the Fargodome."
We got to the front, ripped our ticket, and away we went into a madhouse of noise, money, beer, and...roses. It seemed to be that there were roses being sold at almost every inch of the facility before the concert began. The strange thing was, the people selling them were women who were dressed up to get men's attention, who in turn wanted to get something for their wives/girlfriends. Just a little conflict of interest there...
We kept walking, and the one thought that pops into the head when slowly shuffling behind of hoards of people in a concert is, "Everyone's here for a definite, specific purpose, but no one has any clue of what to do right now." Slowly shuffling around, cutting into and out of long lines at the bathroom and food stands, pushing and brushing against people, staring to see if you can see anyone you know, wondering with huge anticipation what will happen during the concert.
So, eventually, after spending $70 (!) on two t-shirts, we finally got to our seats, and were witness to one of the greatest concerts in the history of North Dakota. The warm-up band was Jonny Lang, and I have to admit he sounded pretty good. As far as he playing straight blues goes, I'd say he was a little too loud, and the words of his music a little too obscure to really get into that deep blues-induced depression. He had some fast numbers as well, though, and they even sounded to suit him a bit better in this particular scenario. The Fargodome was packed to the roof with anticipation of what could be the only concert the Stones will play in North Dakota.
After Jonny played himself up into a sweat and left stage, the lights flipped back on and we were in another intermission. Now we just had to wait a little longer for the Stones. Ten minutes passes, and an announcer voice says that the Stones will be out shortly. This got us all hungry for the music. So, after twenty more minutes of waiting, the lights all got turned off, and the greatest band of all time took to the stage.
Keith and Ronnie, armed with a guitar each, headed for the sides of the main stage. Mick came out front and center to claim his microphone and start belting out the tunes, while Charlie was, as always, chilling in the back with his trapset. They started off with yours and my favorite song that's associated with a Whoopi Goldberg movie, "Jumpin' Jack Flash." To hear it being performed live and in person was...music to the ears!
Someone threw a beer on the stage almost as soon as they stepped out, and it was cool watching the efficiency of the clean-up crew. One guy scooted out quickly, wiped it up real fast while Mick was moving all around out of the way, and then went right back away from the action so everyone could concentrate on a non-slipping Mick Jagger.
After getting thoroughly excited and having loads of adrenaline pumping through me now, they went on to the next song, "You Got Me Rockin'" from their Voodoo Lounge tour. Sure, it's a good song on the CD and radio, but it's better ten fold live.
At one point, I believe towards the beginning of the concert, they tried to calm down the tone of the concert with some slower songs. They performed one I hadn't heard before (I'm only 15) , and then made my night when they played "Sweet Virginia." From their "Stripped" album, it's one of my favorite lazy-day songs of theirs, coming in just second to "Dead Flowers," from the same CD. The two slow songs they played were not greeted with much enthusiasm or cheering, and they probably picked up on this since they only played one other slow song the entire night.
Next came up Keith Richards (guitarist) to sing part of one song along with Mick. A much better scene than the early 90s when the two were feuding over some silly things that still aren't too explainable to this day. After that they played "Honky-Tonk Woman," and that really got the seats a-rockin'. Soon after that it was time to introduce the band.
After introducing the performers on brass, vocals, piano, and other lesser-known instruments (who I tip my hat to...you did a heckuvva job!) , Ronnie Wood (guitarist) was the first of the main four members to get applause, and applause he got. Among all four of the Stones, his was the longest cheer there. After numerous bows and walking around, Mick finally moved it along to introduce Charlie Watts (drums) , and finally Keith, who played guitar and sang lead vocals on the next two songs while Mick Jagger (lead vocals) left the stage to go rest.
After Keith left, there was a bit of darkness and it appeared that nothing was happening. Of course, we were all surprised when all of a sudden Mick popped up from the floor to do a stunning rendition of "Out of Control," from their "Bridges to Babylon" CD. This was probably the most spectacular of the songs, with spectacular lighting effects and a little insanity from Jagger, as well as all the other Stones. To me, the best act of the night.
After playing "Saint of Me" to the somewhat-religious midwestern audience (who didn't sing along to the chorus of "You'll never make a saint of me" quite as much as other recordings I've heard) , they took a hop, skip, and jump into their island stage in the middle of the building. They sang "Midnight Rambler" among a few other songs, if I remember correctly.
Mick received a few gifts as he was walking, including a cowboy hat and baseball cap. He threw these onto the drums, and I had to laugh as I saw Charlie look at them with an expression of, "Man, that's kind of annoying. Could someone please get that away from there? It's gonna throw off the sound! Please! Awww....oh well..." Mick did the same thing as he strutted back to the main stage, throwing a rose into the trapset. Didn't catch Charlie's look that time.
Once they came back to the stage, they played "Tumbling Dice" to a very enthusiastic reception. Another well-known Stones tune, "Paint it Black," was played as well. Surprisingly enough, "Satisfaction" wasn't played at all! Oh well...In my book I've forgiven, since they played "Start Me Up," although I would've loved it if they could've evened out the computer wars by playing "She Comes in Colors" as well.
As they finished the last chords of "Start Me Up," a horrible reality covered me; it was about the end of the concert. Beleaguered, I started cheering loudly as possible as soon as the lights went off and they appeared to leave the stage. Of course, since this was the Stones's first trip to ND, they couldn't leave without having some kind of grand, encore exit. And so it was. Although it seemed to me that this "encore" was staged, it still sounded great.
Once we saw all the lights pop on and stage hands taking down the equipment in a fast manner, we all knew that this monumental concert was over. Shooting out of the Fargodome into the elements outside, we realized we'd also get to participate in something in addition to the concert: the great wait to leave the parking lot. Fortunately, we were bathed with some more Rolling Stones tunes as one local station dedicated the night to Stones music. Yippy. That half-hour wait to leave Fargo went along a little quicker because of it.
I'm not any kind of critic of professional concerts like this; in fact, this really is my first large-scale concert. But I think I'll be agreed with that The Rolling Stones played a great first concert in North Dakota, and appeased even the hard-core ND Stones fans. I only wish that the Stones would've come earlier so ND and them could've had even more memories. As it sits, though, this is a concert that will long be remembered as a great even for North Dakota. And what's this? Steve Miller Band in April? Maybe we're finally being taken seriously as a state!
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