Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group
The Rolling Stones is the greatest rock band in the world. Period. That might be something of a subjective statement from this critic. But it is this critic’s own view. The band has spent the better part of half a century and then some proving its greatness. It has done so through the release of nearly thirty albums, at least thirteen live albums, and countless live performances throughout its life. One of those live recordings–Live at The Tokyo Dome–was released late last month as part of the band’s “From The Vault” series of recordings. This recording is one of the most important in the band’s extensive catalogue of live recordings. The main reason for this is the span of time that had passed between this show and the band’s most recent tour at the time, which had ended in Leeds in 1982. That is a span of seven years. While the band’s show at the Tokyo Dome wasn’t the lead off for the band’s Steel Wheels Tour, it still remains an important piece of the band’s history considering that span of time. Staying in that pattern of thought, the band’s stage presence throughout the course of the roughly two-hour performance lies at the center of the recording. That will be discussed shortly. In the same vein, the show’s featured set list is just as important to the presented concert as the band’s performance. Audiences will be interested to learn that of the concert’s twenty-four song set, the majority of its songs were lifted from the band’s older, more familiar albums than the band’s then latest album Steel Wheels. That will be discussed later as it plays its own important role in the whole of this recording. Last but hardly least of note in Live at The Tokyo Dome’s overall presentation is the presentation’s collective production values. The concert’s audio mix is surprisingly impressive. The video portion is just as interesting. That is because it shows just how far video recording technology has come since the concert’s recording. It is one more reason that this concert recording proves to be so important to the band’s history. Together with the band’s performance and its featured set list, the concert in whole shows in the end to be yet another great addition to The Rolling Stones’ “From The Vault” series.
The latest addition to The Rolling Stones’ “From The Vault” series, Live at The Tokyo Dome is one of the most important pieces of the band’s history to be released in recent history. That is because the concert presented here is part of a tour (The “Steel Wheels Tour”) that was the first for the band in seven years at the time. Before the band embarked on the “Steel Wheels Tour” in August 1989, its members had not been out on the road together since having performed in Leeds in 1982. That concert will be released by Eagle Rock Entertainment later this month. Now having noted this, the band’s stage presence in its Valentines Day 1990 concert is the concert’s most important element to note. Core members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performed like they had never been away from the road. Mick strutted and danced all over the stage from start to finish, giving his all. Just as interesting (if not more so) to note of Jagger’s performance is his interaction with the audience. He spent a fair share of time talking to the audience and even going out into the audience at one point in the show. That’s just one part of what makes his interaction with the audience so intriguing. Most intriguing is that he seemed to speak to the audience in Japanese in more than just a couple of sentences. He really came across as being fluent in the language considering just how much he spoke in the audience’s home language. This is key to note because of just how many performers are trained in just a couple of phrases here in there for their respective foreign audiences even today. Jagger didn’t go that route. He really came across as being quite familiar with the language. It’s refreshing to hear. Moving on, lead guitarist Keith Richards was just as entertaining both as the band’s lead guitarist and in his time on the mic. That’s right. Richards even got his own time on the mic as he had written a pair of songs–‘Can’t Be Seen’ and ‘Happy’–for Steel Wheels. By comparison, bassist Bill Wyman showed nearly no emotion at all throughout the evening’s performance. Of course after the tour wrapped up later that year in Europe, Wyman and the band parted ways. Considering the well publicized issues among the band during its time away from the road prior to the “Steel Wheels Tour,” one becomes less surprised by Wyman’s apparent lack of interest and energy throughout the show. By comparison drummer Charlie Watts looked right at home behind the drum kit from beginning to end. He played his part like it was old hat yet still presented an air of truly enjoying being on stage again. One could also go into the performance provided by the band’s backup singers and musicians. But it goes without saying that their energy was just as positive, leading in turn to a show that audiences watching the show at home today will enjoy just as much as those audiences that were in attendance at the original performance. That is because the band in whole (including the backup performers) performed here as if it had never been away from the road. It’s just one part of the concert’s presentation that makes the recording so enjoyable. The show’s set list is just as important to the recording as the band’s performance.
The Rolling Stones’ stage presence (and that of the band’s backing performers) is central to the overall presentation of Live at The Tokyo Dome. It showed a group of performers that had obviously not lost a step in all of its years off the road and despite its own internal issues. While the musicians’ stage presence is important to the recording’s presentation in its own right, it is only one part of the presentation that should be noted. The show’s featured set list is just as important to the whole of the concert as the band’s stage presence. This is especially the case considering that while the band was touring in support of its then new album Steel Wheels, only five of the show’s twenty-four songs were pulled from that album. The other nineteen songs were older, more familiar tunes. It reaches all the way back to the band’s 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. That album is represented through the song ‘2000 Light Years From Home.’ Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers (which was just recently re-issued), Exile on Main Street, It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll, Tattoo You, and Dirty Work are all represented in the show’s set list. The U.S. release of Between The Buttons is represented, too thanks to the inclusion of ‘Ruby Tuesday.’ Simply put the band included songs from a pretty wide swath of its catalogue up to that point in this show’s set list. This is important to note be cause it shows the band had taken into direct consideration the fact that so much time had passed since it had last toured. So those older songs were likely what audiences really wanted to hear since it’s what those audiences knew. It shows a deep respect for the audience. Considering this, it had to have made audiences respect the band even more in turn. That mutual respect between the band and audience ultimately makes the concert’s set list that much more important of an element in the whole of Live at The Tokyo Dome. And together with the band’s stage presence throughout each song, the two elements together show even more why Live at The Tokyo Dome such an important piece of The Rolling Stones’ history.
The Rolling Stones’ stage presence in Live at The Tokyo Dome and the concert’s set list are both of equal importance to the concert’s overall presentation. While both elements are important in their own right to the whole of this recording, they would be of no consequence without mention of the recording’s collective production values, or its audio and video. Audiences must go into this recording understanding that the concert was recorded in 1990. That was well before the advent of high-definition capabilities. That being the case, the audio mix at least proves to be relatively impressive. That is especially considering the size of the Tokyo Dome. Audiences will note in watching the performance just how open the concert hall is inside. It has very high ceilings and is just as open from wall to wall. That means an increased ability of the sound to echo throughout the hall. Luckily, all involved both at the concert and in preparing this recording handled their duties with the utmost precision. The result is a concert that sounds just as good on Blu-ray (and CD) as it did in the original performance if not better. The video quality is just as interesting. While some of the shots are clear others are at the opposite end of that spectrum. More specifically, there are some shots that are not quite in focus despite the best efforts of those behind the cameras. But they are luckily not enough to really ruin the concert’s overall viewing experience. If anything the combination of those shots and the concert’s re-mastered audio serves to show just how far recording technology has come since this concert was recorded. In its own way it actually makes the overall experience of this concert that much more enjoyable. Because it does, it makes the band’s performance that much more engaging and the show’s set list just as impressive. All things considered, Live at The Tokyo Dome shows in the end to be another welcome addition to The Rolling Stones’ ongoing “From The Vault” series.
The Rolling Stones’ Live at The Tokyo Dome is yet another welcome addition to the band’s ongoing “From The Vault” series. The band’s stage presence exhibits a band in general that had not lost a step despite having been off the road for roughly seven years before it embarked on its “Steel Wheels Tour.” The set list shows a certain amount of respect for fans considering that most of the show’s twenty-four-song set list was pulled from the band’s already extensive catalogue of albums at the time. And the recording’s overall production values show just how far recording technology has come since the concert’s original presentation even as impressive as those values are in their own right. One would be remiss to ignore the recording’s companion booklet and double gatefold packaging. The companion booklet adds even more enjoyment to the overall experience as it presents extra tidbits such as the revelation that the band’s stage setup was so big that it took eighty (yes, eighty) trucks to haul it from venue to venue. The crew required to assemble and break down the set was just as expansive, according to Richard Havers’ notes. It’s tough to figure out conversion rates, but the revelation of tickets to the Tokyo Dome show costing 10,000 Yen is just as eye-opening. These are just a couple of interesting extras that are noted in the companion booklet. And while it might be more bulky than the standard multi-disc setup, the double gatefold packaging of the SD Blu-ray/2-CD combo pack actually protects the discs more than that standard slim packaging. Whether for that packaging, the bonuses added by the companion booklet or for any of the centrally noted elements, it can be said of Live at The Tokyo Dome that the recording in whole is, again, one of the most important pieces of the band’s history and one that any Rolling Stones fan will want to have in his or her own music (and Rolling Stones) library. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:
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