Concert Review: Stones Rock the Pontiac Silverdome

I wrote the concert review below after attending the Rolling Stones show at the Pontiac Silverdome on Dec. 2, 1997. It was the fourth time I had seen the Stones. I attended with my cousin Laurie.



The Stones show Dec. 2 at the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit in my native state of Michigan was for the most part fantastic. Aside from a few rough edges, especially in the first half of the show, the lads were in good form.

The high point of the concert was of course the three-song set from the small center stage. They should stay out there for more songs than just three. When the Stones are performing on that little stage, they play like more of a band than when they are on the humongous main stage. I think that being in close physical proximity to each other makes them play much tighter and better. “Little Queenie” was magic, especially when Keith did the famous Chuck Berry riff. Before they launched into “Like a Rolling Stone,” Mick said, “Here’s one Bob Dylan wrote for us many years ago.” (I knew he was joking, but did everyone else?) I wasn’t too happy when the Stones covered this one, but it really did sound incredible on stage. Mick sings it so well, and the crowd went absolutely wild for it. The third and final song from the small stage was “You Got Me Rocking,” not one of my favorites, but I was happy that they did something from the “Voodoo” album. The song was performed well and the crowd was really getting into it.

The Stones did four excellent new songs in this show—”Flip the Switch,” “ASMB,” “Out of Control,” and “Saint of Me”—but none of them was received as well as I had hoped. “Out of Control” has some awesome lyrics: specifically, the line where Mick sings, “And the drunks and the homeless they all know me,” but the echoes in the Silverdome sound system made it difficult to hear many of the words. (Later in the show the sound got much better.) As for the new songs, personally I wish they would throw in “Gunface,” which I think is the best song on the new album. (You were right, Steve!) During “ASMB,” Mick and the male backup singer included a line in the rap part about coming to rock “Detroit City,” but you couldn’t hear the male backup singer very well at all. (Every time Mick acknowledged the crowd by saying “Detroit City,” the crowd went wild.)

The cybercast vote went to “Just My Imagination.” Mick changed the line “She doesn’t even know me” to “she doesn’t f*cking know me.” Except for the tight last few chords, that song didn’t work at all, perhaps because they have not performed it much. Another misfire was “19th Nervous Breakdown.” To make that song sound great live, the Stones should have done two things: first, the descending bass line from the original should have been included (preferably with Bill Wyman performing it), and Mick should have gotten the crowd riled up to join him in the “Here-it-comes”es.

They had a mishap after “Sympathy for the Devil,” when Mick was leading the audience in an impromptu sing-along with the “woo-woos,” and Keith interrupted that by starting into “Tumbling Dice.” Oops.

“Gimme Shelter,” Miss You,” and all of the big hits at the end of the show sounded terrific. Keith played a bit of piano during “Honky Tonk Women,” and it was refreshing to see them doing that one without blowup dolls or hokey video clips. Just them performing it. They really sounded incredible. “Start Me Up” is one of my favorite Stones songs because it is so simple yet so much fun. “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar” are also a thrill. I was pleased that they included “You Can’t Always Get” in the encore. I must admit, though, that during “Brown Sugar” I was looking more at the glitter shower that was engulfing our section than the stage. And as always I enjoyed watching Mick dance and gyrate and run from one end of the stage to the other. Too bad he didn’t take off his shirt.

This was the fourth Stones show I had been to. (I also saw the first Giants Stadium show in September, plus shows on the ’89 and ’94 tour.) I am also going to see the Stones for at least two of the three Madison Square Garden shows in January.

A few other comments from this diehard Stones fan:

  • I absolutely love it when the Stones extend their songs at the end of a show. During “Jumping Jack Flash” and Brown Sugar,” they just kept repeating sections of the song to make it last longer and longer. It is evident that they really enjoy being on stage and performing in front of all these people.
  • I think it is brilliant that they open the show with the spotlight and video camera on Keith strumming out the lick for “Satisfaction.” Also, I like the close-ups throughout the show of “Keef” playing his guitar.
  • Charlie Watts is the best drummer ever in the history of rock’n’roll.
  • I think the backup singers and musicians have too great a presence on stage. I really wish that the contributions by the horn section and the backup singers were kept to a minimum, and certainly not included in every song.
  • I strongly suspect that the cyber cast vote is fixed. How could a song like “Factory Girl” win once and then be last place two days later? I don’t get it.
  • Keith and Mick, if you are reading this, and if you are taking requests, a few songs that I would be thrilled to have you perform live are the following: “Black Limo,” “When the Whip Comes Down,” “Where the Boys Go,” “Respectable,” “Lady Jane,” “Had It With You,” “She’s a Rainbow,” “Undercover of the Night” “Memory Motel” and of course “Shattered.” (Please play some of these songs at the Garden!)

Set list:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Let’s Spend the Night Together
  3. Flip the Switch
  4. Gimme Shelter (with Lisa Fischer vocal)
  5. Anybody Seen My Baby
  6. Saint of Me
  7. 19th Nervous Breakdown
  8. Out of Control
  9. Imagination (cybercast vote)
  10. Miss You (great sax solo)
  11. All About You (Keith vocal)
  12. Wanna Hold You (Keith)
  13. Little Queenie (center stage)
  14. Like a Rolling Stone (center stage)
  15. You Got Me Rocking (center stage)
  16. Sympathy
  17. Tumbling Dice
  18. Honky Tonk Women
  19. Start Me Up
  20. Jumping Jack Flash
  21. You Cant Always Get What You Want (encore)
  22. Brown Sugar (encore)

One final note about the Silverdome show: I heard secondhand news reports when I got home that night that a guy who was dancing on a handrail during the show fell to his death. If this is true, and I believe it is, I certainly did not see any evidence of it from where I was sitting.

I posted this review to the IORR (It’s Only Rock N Roll) fan site. To see other reviews from this show, click here.