E picked me up at Oakland Airport on a balmy Saturday afternoon and we headed to downtown San Francisco where we had a room at the W Hotel. It was an awesome room that E got us with a deal on Hotwire. Very modern, sleek room with a nice view. We headed over to the Four Seasons just around the corner on Market Street to pick up our tickets and have some lunch. I was getting 4 tickets this time since we had some friends, Franklin & Beth, who lived in the area. They had gone to the show with us in '05 in SF as well, but didn't get to sit with us, so this time it would be nice to all be together. We were hoping to see the MFTQ, but she wasn't due in until the next day and as it turned out was further delayed and we only managed to finally see her at the show Monday night.
We had lunch in the Seasons Restaurant, which had gone down hill since we last had eaten there during the Licks Tour. The service was slow, and the food was mediocre and the price was very high. We managed to get a free glass of champagne though since the food took so long. The concierge desk was not as helpful, refusing to print out a seating chart of the Oakland Coliseum for us and complaining that they would have to send one up to the Stones ticket office so people didn't bother them for one all day. What happened to the famous Four Seasons service? SF used to be the best at one time. As lunch was ending Blondie came over and we then joined him in the bar. Even the bartender was not very good this time, making $14 drinks that tasted nowhere near the price.
During our stay in SF, we spent some time at the Rt. 101 bar where our friend Trey is a bartender. It was also his birthday. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory on top of Macy's, which is a tradition for us. We did some shopping. The funniest story from the Four Seasons bar was the night before the show when some guy had come to see Blondie, but didn't even know his correct name and had been sitting in the bar for like 6 hours trying to get a hold of him, asking everyone who entered the bar "Do you know where Blondie CHAPMAN's room is?". He didn't even pronounce his last name correctly! The hotel staff was totally sick of this guy (He was clearly on his way to making an ass of himself as a Stones fan stalker in a 5 star hotel) and were clearly trying to find a way to throw him out. This guy had some letter he wanted to give to Blondie and he constantly called over the waiter complaining about a missing piece of romaine lettuce that hadn't been packed in his to-go box from a meal he had eaten 2 hours before! When a female server approached him, he demanded "Where's my MAN waiter?!". We were secretly laughing our asses off about the scene with a nice young couple we had met at the bar. Finally the guy went for a smoke and when he did, security did not let him re-enter the building!
On show day we headed back to the Four Seasons for a few drinks and my pal Blondie joined us for a bit. We were waiting for our friends Franklin & Beth to meet us, as well as our friend Trey so we could hop on the BART to the show. We wanted to get there early so we could get a table in the band lounge, this tour referred to as the Rattlesnake. We got to the show easily, E found the Rattlesnake right off and I was able to get 2 more passes from the Keith camp peeps for 2 of our friends, so that was cool. The food is always so good in there, but typically we aren't that hungry. We always have shepherd's pie with HP Sauce though. We're always afraid we'll have a mouthful of food and in will walk Keith...we might choke or something, ha.
The best part about the Rattlesnake in Oakland was that in addition to Charlie & Ronnie coming in, and the sight of Bernard peeking over the curtain (see photo), we got to hear the rehearsal of Little Red Rooster from Keith's dressing room just on the other side of the curtain. That was an uber-fantastic treat!
Van Morrison was opening and I watched bits of "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Gloria" on the feed that pumped onto the backstage TV.. He was supposed to guest on Little Red Rooster, which was printed on tonight's setlist I had been given by Alan Dunn, however, the song ended up being replaced when Van Morrison bailed out at the last minute (he's known to be weird like that, we're lucky he finished his opening set). Preston came by and gave everyone at our table a guitar pick, that was so totally sweet of him.
The Rattlesnake was actually in a tent outside the stadium, and we had 2 porta johns instead of a real bathroom marked "WC Rattlesnake Only". Kinda gross, but kinda funny, since so many people from the parking lot wanted to use them on their way into the show and were told by Stones & venue security "You gotta have a pass to use this porta potty!". Glad we had porta john all access! When the RS Inn closed, we headed into the stadium to the floor. We had great seats third row on Keith's side and our friends were thrilled to be sitting with us so close up.
I think what first struck me when we got to our seats was how cool the stage looked with a full moon rising just above it.
The other thing that struck me was that there was no security on the floor and the front of the floor was filled with about 12,000 people who didn't have seats there. The aisles were jammed full and some chick insisted on being in my seat for the first 5 songs or so. All that lack of security was the only annoyance I had at this show. At one point some guy was screaming the lyrics into my ear, while blowing his bad breath into my face and the last straw was when he fell across my seat and put his hand in my pocket! I turned around and snapped "get the fuck outta here!" and to my surprise he did, only to be replaced with more annoying people who didn't have seats there. At one point Stones security kindly came in and cleared our aisle, but that only lasted for a few songs.
The setlist was as follows: 1. Jumping Jack Flash 2. It's Only Rock N' Roll 3. Let's Spend The Night Together 4. She Was Hot 5. Dead Flowers 6. Streets Of Love 7. Bitch 8. Midnight Rambler 9. Tumbling Dice 10. You Got The Silver (KR) 11. Connection (KR) 12. Under My Thumb 13. Just My Imagination 14. Start Me Up 15. Honky Tonk Women 16. Sympathy For The Devil 17. Paint It Black 18. Brown Sugar 19. Satisfaction (encore)
There was not much trace of Mick's vocal troubles when the boys hit the stage at an early 8:45pm, but Mick did blow his nose a few times. Mick apologized for changing the dates and making everyone change their lives around. He said "You could be home watching Monday Night Football...or maybe we're ok where we are?" The crowd went wild. The crowd WAS wild, the entire night, singing & dancing & clapping & cheering. I think this led to the energy of the band, since I just felt the boys were tearing it up. Let's Spend The Night Together & She Was Hot were both spot on. Tonight was hands down he best version of Bitch I ever heard, the guitars were just screaming, Ronnie & Keith dueling it out, the horns blaring. Mick added some extra "you gotta mix it, you gotta fix it" lyrics four times. The only disappointment was when Van bailed and they replaced Little Red Rooster with Dead Flowers, which I love, but after hearing the rehearsals backstage it would have been cool to get the tune that was actually printed on the setlist. We got another 10+ minute rocking Rambler, then Dice, before Keith's set. Keith was sweet on Silver, but Connection was disconnected, the band & Keith seemed lost, Keith ended it by shaking his head and saying "What a bunch!". Another treat was Just My Imagination on the B stage, with Mick gladly singing the line "She doesn't fucking know me" as he did back in '78 at live shows. We danced and sang our way through the rest of the show, sweating like crazy because not only were the Stones hot, but it WAS HOT. When the show ended around 10:40pm we took a photo beside the stage and then exited like herded cattle to the BART. Surprisingly, given the 40,000 that all seemed to have taken the BART from SF, we got back to the Four Seasons around 11:45pm for the after party & got a great table. We were in time to see Chuck sit in and play some piano with the regular piano player in the bar (he did this last tour too) before retiring to his room early (Rose Lane was ill). We had a few beers, and Bernard & some of his friends sat at a table beside us. Blondie & his family were at a sofa table in the corner. We left when things closed down around 2am.