Living in New York City is not without its challenges. The kitchen in my apartment is the size of a small soap dish, the entire city smells like urine for most of the month of August, and every single taxi seems to go off duty just when you need one most.
But residing in the Big Apple also provides incredible one-of-a-kind opportunities, like the concert I was lucky enough to attend at Carnegie Hall last week. It was a tribute to The Rolling Stones, featuring a diverse array of artists taking on every song that appeared on their classic greatest hits double album Hot Rocks 1964-1971. I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was pretty much one of the greatest nights of my life.
The songs were performed in the order they appeared on the albums, with one exception. They kicked off the show with the dudes from TV on the Radio performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which is the second track on side four. The reason? They had a local high school choir open it up with that famous falsetto “I saw her today at the reception…” part and, being a school night, they had to get them in and out. Making this one deviation from the original line-up was worth it… they were spectacular. But that was just the beginning.
“Time is On My Side” was performed by Ronnie Spector, she of the “Be My Baby” Ronettes. Her big hair and raspy voice did not disappoint. Peaches took on “Heart of Stone.” I wasn’t familiar with her prior to that night, but I was very impressed by her stage presence and vocal prowess. Rich Robinson from The Black Crowes sang “Play With Fire,” sticking pretty close to the original (to great effect.) Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis rocked the house in her glittery hot pants and sparkly shoes on her interpretation of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” This was a highlight. Girlfriend’s got the moves like Jagger. “As Tears Go By” was performed by the woman who did it first, Marianne Faithfull. Now 65, her voice is much deeper than it was when she recorded it in 1964, and I mean that as a compliment. David Johansen (New York Dolls, Buster Poindexter) wrapped up side one with a rousing version of “Get Off of My Cloud.” The crowd went crazy.
Singer/songwriter Steve Earle brought his new country flavor to “Mother’s Little Helper,” followed by Ian Hunter’s pumped up rendition of “19th Nervous Breakdown.” The Mountain Goats (who knew?) did a gorgeous “Paint It Black” using only piano and drum, followed by Glen Hansard’s Irish twang on “Under My Thumb.” Art Garfunkel’s “Ruby Tuesday” was wonderfully ethereal, and Jackson Browne closed out side two with his California cool version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”
Gomez brought an indie rock twist to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” mashing it up with Them’s classic “Gloria.” This was another highlight of the evening. West African-born Angelique Kidjo brought “Street Fighting Man” to new anthemic heights, then Rickie Lee Jones sang a sweetly acoustic version of “Sympathy for the Devil.” with the crowd joining in on the “ooo, who” part at the end. Taj Mahal and his daughter Deva brought the audience to its feet with their soulful “Honky Tonk Women,” and one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Rosanne Cash, did one of my all time favorite songs, “Gimme Shelter.” I still get chills just thinking about it.
Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops did a down-home version of “Midnight Rambler” and Jackie Greene brought his American Roots flavor to “Brown Sugar.” Marc Cohn brought Rosanne Cash and Jackson Browne back to the stage to join him on the final track, “Wild Horses.” It was breathtaking.
At this point I thought I had died and gone to heaven, but it wasn’t over. Bonus tracks! Marianne Faithfull came back on stage to do a haunting version of “Sister Morphine,” and then everyone returned for an all-star performance of “Tumbling Dice.” Watching Juliette Lewis jam with Jackson Browne and Rickie Lee Jones was a thing of beauty. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.
Let it Bleed