Chicago 2005, Blue Lena’s Tour Journal from Soldier Field
Arrived in Chicago late in the afternoon on Friday September 9, the day before the big Soldier Field show. On the plane I sat next to 2 fans who had met me last tour in Pittsburgh, so the flight went fast since we chatted Stones and looked at my Stones photo album and the read the new issue of Stones Planet the whole way to Chicago. Met my friend E at the airport, had a Becks in the bar and we headed off to our hotel. Had a nice feast at our regular joint The Cheesecake Factory and then spent the entire evening at the Stones hotel, catching up with old pals and meeting some new friends. Mick himself had been in the bar earlier in the evening, which was quite unusual for him. One fan we know of managed to even get an autograph. Another got his glass that he had drank Coke out of!
Spoke with Bernard Fowler & later Tim Ries, who I had interviewed for Stones Planet #18 and was able to give Tim the copy of the fanzine in person-he was excited about the inclusion of his new Rolling Stones Project cd and posed for a photo with me. Spent the end of the evening sitting with my friend Blondie Chaplin and his friends Nicholas Tremulis & John Pirruccello from the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra (http://www.nicholastremulis.com/). We had first met Nick with Blondie during the Licks Tour before heading to the Aragon Ballroom show. Nick & Blondie played together at the Double Door and we caught their show last tour and most recently they had done a show together in July in Austin, TX. My friend E and I ended up closing down the bar, being the last to leave at 3am.
On show day, I awoke much too early after 4 hours sleep and was starving. So, headed over to the hotel again and had a fantastic brunch and some Bloody Mary’s. The bar area was not very full and we chatted with a few fans and later Blondie again before he and the band left for the show around 3pm. We headed back to our hotel and changed for the show before grabbing a cab to Soldier Field. The traffic was horrendous and it took almost 45 minutes to ride there, which was only about 4 miles. It was another gorgeous evening for a show, and not as hot as it had been at opening night in Boston. We stopped by the merchandise stand and got the cool silicone red & black A Bigger Bang bracelets, 2 for $5, what a bargain! We headed in by Gate 6 and went up the stairs to the VIP Lounge, which was completely empty. It was located next to the On Stage ticket holder party area and the American Express private party. Since beer on the main floor was $7 a pop, we saved some money…and managed to pack in 4 or 5 Heinekens and Amstel Lights in the 2 hours before show time. The bartender was a great friendly guy and we chatted with him until some other people finally arrived a ½ hour later. Took a few pix in the VIP and then at 8pm headed down to our seats.
They gave everyone pink wristbands for the field, so you didn’t have to show your ticket as much. We saw quite a few fans we knew, some who were sitting quite close to us. We took some photos on the field before the lights finally went down at 8:40pm. The stadium was huge with 60,000 people and it erupted into a roar when the boys jumped on stage to the sound of “Start Me Up”. We were hoping for some setlist changes tonight, but the show turned out to be pretty standard, with the exception of “Ruby Tuesday” being thrown in as song #5. The crowd was really into it, which certainly helps to make a large stadium feel more intimate. I looked around a few times and saw people standing up even on the third level, which is unusual for US stadium shows. Everyone around me danced through the whole first half of the show. “Bitch” was a nice addition as song #8, even if it’s not a rarity. My only disappointment was that in the home of Chicago Blues the Stones dropped their new killer blues track “Back of My Hand” from the set.
Keith did the same set, and I can’t complain because “The Worst” with Keith & Bernard sharing the mic is fabulous and the new tune “Infamy” is rocking…but throwing in “Little T&A” here and there might be nice! We left our seats during the middle of “Infamy” to get back to the B-stage. You think people would have heard of the Stones B-stage concept before, but NOOOO. Trying to get people to move in towards the B-Stage was like trying to move a herd of deaf crippled cattle. We ducked into 2 empty seats right near Keith’s side of the B-stage, and there were only 3 other people in the row-3 people who stood still and would NOT move, even though I told them if they wanted to see the Stones close up now was the time to get going. The girl whined “I don’t want to be pressed up against that stage” to which I replied “Well I do!”, so I just crawled across the seats behind her. Then this guys says to me “Security told us not to move” as I viewed people still not going to the rail of the B-stage. I said “Well, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them!” and asked if he minded if I stepped in front of him and he let me through. Phew, finally, front of Keith’s mic with no one obstructing my view, what a struggle.
Just as I secured my space, the Stones B-stage was inching ever closer during “Miss You” and when it came to a stop, I went on autopilot just looking at the boys who were one again in front of my face. I always find it so hard to look AND listen to what they are playing at the same time when they are that close. Mick, Keith & Ronnie all came directly in front of me several times which was great. I had my disposable camera, and snapped 4 pictures, when the security guy made me put it away-dork! Everyone around me was using camera photos, what the hell is the difference? I obliged though and put it away for the rest of the set. I remember Mick standing beside Daryl during “Oh No Not You Again” singing the line “the moon is yellow, I’m like jello, staring down your tits” and they both looked at each other and laughed. “Satisfaction” was fun to see up close on the B-stage, it was a great version and I enjoyed it. The sound out there wasn’t too good because there was a delay and an echo, but it rocked anyway. After “Honky Tonk Women” started and the B-stage started to move back to the main stage, we also headed back to our seats.
When we got back there, we found a lot of people had been sitting down during the B-stage set because of course they couldn’t see it. They rose back up to their feet for “Out of Control”. Keith really came back to the main stage with a tremendous burst of energy and during “Jumping Jack Flash” he wailed away, kicks and all, it was great. I always like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at the stadiums because everyone sings along and it’s cool to hear the whole 60,000 in unison. Mick exclaimed near the end of the show “Chicago you’re a great fucking audience!”. Again for the last encore of “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll” Keith just went mad on guitar and stayed in the section in front of us just jamming his heart out. Pretty soon it was final bows and fireworks around 10:40pm and that was the conclusion of Soldier Field 2005.
After the show it was a ½ hour walk to even make it out of the stadium, and the surrounding Soldier Field area. We walked & walked. We tried to get a bus since last tour were stuck at Comiskey Park in Chicago looking for a taxi for 3 hours! But the busses proved just as jammed so we kept walking…for an hour! Finally when we had walked the whole way to Michigan Avenue we went to a hotel there and got in cab line. Made it back to the Stones hotel around midnight. The security man at the bar told me they were at capacity and we couldn’t go in and it would be a long wait, so we just said fine and walked around to the other side and went in near the bathrooms, that solved that problem.
We again chatted with Bernard, Blondie and Tim and many, many fans. Finally got a table after about an hour and hung out until the bar closed down again. At 4am we were at the 24 Hour Walgreens buying microwavable White Castle burgers and ice cream! What a bedtime snack!
The following day we made one last stop at the Stones hotel and had lunch and drinks with Blondie. A fan had given Blondie a black leather Chicago Police motorcycle jacket to give to Keith and Blondie was going to give it to him on the plane on the way to NYC. I tried on the jacket, which would drown Keith, but it was cool, and I got my picture taken in it. Left the bar around 3pm when the Stones were headed out to fly to NY for the MSG and other NY area shows.
When I got on the plane at 7:15pm that night, I fell fast asleep and woke up in Pittsburgh again. Stay tuned for upcoming tour reports from Toronto, Pittsburgh, Hershey and Washington, DC.