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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.

After three hours of driving, we got to the front of the Fargodome, got our ticket ripped, and away we went into a madhouse of noise, money, beer, and...roses. There were roses being sold at almost every inch of the facility before the concert began. The strange thing was, women who were dressed up to get men's attention were selling them, and those men wanted to get those roses for their object of affection. 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."

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 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 did sound professional, and the fast numbers really rocked. Once Jonny was done, and after waiting patiently while the crew rearranged the stage, the lights dropped once again, and the real fun began.

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.

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." 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. Soon after they played "Honky-Tonk Woman," which got the people moving back again.

After Keith left, there was a bit of darkness and it appeared that nothing was happening. We were all surprised when suddenly Mick popped up from the floor to do a stunning rendition of "Out of Control," from their "Bridges to Babylon" album. 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.

Also, here's a little secret I could see from my vantage point. It looks like not every song is perfectly memorized by Mick, as there was a teleprompter scrolling lyrics on a few numbers. Nothing wrong with that, though. Just a little tidbit.

Some other well known songs they performed included "Tumbling Dice," "Paint it Black" (nicely done) , and "Start Me Up." And no, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" was not played, surprisingly enough!

As they finished the last chords of "Start Me Up," a horrible reality faced me; the concert was almost over. Beleaguered, I started cheering as loud as possible immediately after the lights went off and they appeared to leave the stage. 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 (no pun intended) , 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. This could not put any sort of damper on the evening, though.

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.

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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