Keith Opening Night-Photos Gary Greenberg

My shirt & VIP pass from opening night at Fenway-Photo Blue Lena

Keith at Fenway-Photo Nate Miller

Stones Start Up Up With a Bang in Boston!

We arrived in Boston on Saturday morning August 20 at an early 8am. We had to get up at 2am in order to drive to the airport, so we were pretty tried by the time we arrived. My friend E had traveled in from San Francisco on the red-eye, so she was just as beat. This was our first show together since the SARS gig in July 2003. We feared we wouldn’t be able to check into our hotel until 3pm, but the Stones Gods were smiling upon us and we got rooms on the same floor at 9am!

We were at the Hilton Back Bay, which is located about 5 blocks from Fenway Park. Our rooms were on the 24th floor and had balconies that overlooked the city, the river and Fenway! We were close to trendy Newbury St. shopping as well. Saturday was a day of relaxation before show day and we decided to go to Ronnie’s art gallery showing at the Newbury St. Fine Arts. We walked 10 blocks and then had blisters on our feet and still didn’t find it (turns out we were doors away when we turned around & walked the 10 blocks back!). We were dying for a beer and stopped into Sonsie on Newbury (where I had gone during the Boston Marathon my husband was running last year) and had a few Bass Ales and some steak & eggs-it was only 11am after all!

We had seen a few hip chicks pass in their designer Stones t’s, but there wasn’t much buzz on Newbury. We did stop into Newbury Comics and get the latest issue of Uncut Mag with Keith on the cover though.

We came back to the hotel & tried to take a nap for a bit and then headed out to Boylston St. to eat streetside at Atlantic Fish Co. Dinner was excellent, but the waiter was annoying, LOL. Changed clothes after dinner and then headed off to the Four Seasons for the evening.

Got to know the bartender, Dave, and started the evening with some (what else?) Stoli & cranberries. It was standing room only for a while. Chatted with Blondie for a bit. Ran into our old friend Kathy from Kansas whom we hadn’t seen since Philly ’99, so that was cool. She had been at the first Stones internet gathering with us before the Bridges To Babylon Tour in May 1997 at the Rock Hall in Cleveland. We hung out until around 1:30am and then headed back to bed, I was exhausted.

Denton got his picture taken with Keith, Keith's daughter Theo, and Me! LOL-Photos by Denton & Cristina

Sunday morning we had brunch reservations at the Four Seasons, so first we headed upstairs to pick up our tickets. We were quite thrilled with 7th row Ronnie’s side, although we would have preferred Keith’s! Brunch was excellent, although the bloody mary’s sucked and we had to return them for Stoli & OJ instead. I had been waiting after brunch for a friend of mine to arrive from Germany, but at 2pm we decided we’d have to meet him at the pre-party at the Pour House so that we could go back to our hotel and change for the show.

The Stones were set to leave the hotel around 3pm because sound check was at 4pm. Shuttles actually began leaving around 2:30 for the touring crew. Most of the band slipped out the side, but we saw Charlie come downstairs through the lobby with his daughter Serafina and his granddaughter and another little girl. Looking dapper as ever, he got into a limo out front.

We changed into our concert attire, and because it was so damn hot & humid, this called for no sleeves. We stopped in at the Pour House, where we saw some old friends and I met my new friend from Germany, RH. He generously bought me a beer and we talked about the show, and he gave me a “Who the Fuck is Mick Jagger?” t-shirt, being a huge Keith fan himself. Then around 5:30, we hopped into a cab and headed to Fenway. Opening night is finally here!!!

My VIP pass

We were lucky to get VIP passes and we had the pleasure of sitting behind the stage on the famous Green Monster during the opening act the Black Eyed Peas who started their set at 6:30pm. Hey, at least the bathroom up there had air conditioning! The Stones were set to take the stage at 8:00pm because of a strict 10:30pm curfew, but came on a bit late around 8:20pm.

View of the stage Photo by Ayaz

We took our seats around 7:50pm and had a great view of the entire stage. We were curious to see how the On-Stage seats were going to work out, as well as the new mobile B-stage. My assessment is that if you have good field seats don’t trade them for On-Stage seats. When the lights went down a collective scream went through the crowd of around 30,000 and the boys stepped onto the stage and launched into what else but “Start Me Up”. Mick was dressed in blue shiny pants, a white/silver cut off tux type jacket and was sporting a hat. Keith was in a black jacket with a billowing white shirt underneath, Ronnie had his favorite yellow jacket on and Charlie was understated in a royal blue t-shirt. One thing was for sure, no one was lacking in energy, not the band or the crowd.

Keith at Fenway-Photo by Nate

“You Got Me Rocking” was next and always works well with the stadium crowd chanting the chorus of “hey, hey, you got me rocking now”, tonight was no exception. It was pretty evident that we were going to hear a lot of hits tonight and new tunes rather than rarities. Next up was “Shattered” and Mick commented on playing in Boston calling it a “Champion City” and then “Tumbling Dice” and at this point I was surprised that a new tune didn’t come into play earlier. But, on the 5th song, we were treated to the new rocker “Rough Justice”, to which we already learned most of the words, so we sang along. Next we got a blues kick from the superb new track “Back of My Hand”, on which Mick plays a brilliant slide guitar (who knew?). That song is one of the best new Stones songs in ages and before introducing it Mick mentioned that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the crowd, which met with boos and cheers. Carly Simon, Steven Tyler and a host of lesser celebs were also in the house. “Beast of Burden” came as a surprise to me, but is always enjoyable and reminded me of Philly ’03 B stage when Keith gave me the pick. Then came “She’s So Cold” on which they had a tad of difficulty finding an ending to…and onto “Heartbreaker”. There were a few choppy endings, but I don’t think most of the crowd took notice, or like us, if they did, they didn’t care. The folks around me were having a blast, people were excited and happy to hear everything that was being played, several commenting this was the best show they had ever seen. I wouldn’t go that far, as opening night always has a lot of glitches and bugs to be worked out, but it was still a blast and the boys were musically and vocally in top form. Tightness comes later in the tour.

The sound was phenomenal, the stage enormous, yet barren with the exception of looking at the fans who were sitting in the On-Stage rafter seats. And speaking of rafters, some 20 year old chick climbed onto the rafters somewhere near the right field seats and fell 40 feet down around 10pm, unbeknownst to us at the time. She could have been killed, but ended up only breaking both ankles and a wrist. Idiot.

Getting back to the show, we knew they were to do a Ray Charles tribute and this was the spot-“Night Time is the Right Time” was the show stealer and Lisa Fischer blew us away. It was unfuckingbelievable how well that tune was performed! After band intros it was Keith’s turn and as usual many folks around us sat down or left their seats, which meant we had a perfectly clear view of Keith, as we stood and cheered and chanted “Keef, Keef” and waved the skull scarves. It was great to hear “The Worst” again, my first time since ’94 and awesome that Bernard came out to Keith’s mic to share harmonies, beautifully done. Next came “Infamy” Keith’s new tune, performed as well as at the club gig and sounding rather like a Winos track.

Keith Fenway-Photo by Nate

Now it was time for the B stage, and the main stage section moved along out into the crowd as Mick donned a headset mic for the first time to sing & play on “Miss You”. We also got the new “Oh No Not You Again” and the old “Satisfaction” out there and as “Honky Tonk Women” began a giant flowered tongue began to inflate above the stage (it didn’t quite unfurl properly) and the B stage returned to the main stage.

We really got into “Out of Control”, love singing the “Lord help me now” line. And then Sympathy started, but Mick seemed a bit out of key until the first verse ended, but it reminded me of the ’94 version because he climbed the stairs behind the stage while singing. Keith delighted on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar” rounded out the end of the show before the band returned for two encores and enticed the crowd into singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on which they were glad to comply. The night ended with a kicking “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll”. All in all, a very satisfying opening night.

Back at the hotel we saw some of the Stones head out to dinner with friends and family. Peter Wolf, who was hanging around all week, was sitting at a table behind us for a while before heading out with Bernard. Blondie was talking about the guy who jumped onto the stage during the show and played air guitar on a broom before being tackled by security who were a bit slow on the draw-he said “I thought he had a spear!”. The guy had been right in front of us on the stage, it was bizarre.

Stay tuned for more reviews in Stones Planet and online as I head to Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Hershey, DC, Philadelphia, LA & San Francisco.

Photo by Nate Miller

Blue Lena with Opening Night Ticket on balcony of Back Bay Hilton before show