DVD review: THE ROLLING STONES – Steel Wheels Live – Atlantic City, New Jersey

THE ROLLING STONES - Steel Wheels Live - Atlantic City, New Jersey

Eagle Vision/Universal [Release date 25.09.20]

Now, this is a beauty of a release, and one that I have been waiting for as I have had a bootleg of this show since early 1990 and this has now been restored, remixed and remastered from the band’s own archives (I would love to know what else is in there!!).

The Stones hadn’t toured since 1981 and having recently released their “make or break” album “Steel Wheels”, they hit the road in 1989 for their Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours.

This show was filmed in December at New Jersey’s Atlantic City Convention Centre and features several notable guest appearances – Eric Clapton on “Little Red Rooster”, blues legend John Lee Hooker on “Boogie Chillen” and GnR’s Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin on the Stones first ever live performance of 1968’s “Salt of The Earth”. Just think about that list for a second, these are artists that helped shape their own musical genres for decades.

The setlist here is, to be honest, immense. There are a handful of tracks from the “Steel Wheels” album, as you would expect, these include Keith’s “Can’t Be Seen”, “Sad, Sad, Sad”, “Mixed Emotions” and “Rock and A Hard Place”.

For me, the band’s songs from the ‘60’s have an authentic “‘60’s Stones” feel to them that kind of got lost as the tours got bigger and more extravagant, and you won’t hear a better version of “Paint It Black” on any of their subsequent tours. This could be, in part, the fact that Bill Wyman left the group shortly after the tour.

There are also a number of songs here that you don’t hear the Stones play live very often and “Bitch”, “Undercover Of The Night”, “Harlem Shuffle”, “2,000 Light Years From Home” and the afore mentioned “Salt of The Earth” are all fine examples of this.

The remainder of the nights 28 song set is made up of the usual tracks you would expect to hear, including “Gimme Shelter”, Brown Sugar”, “Start Me Up”, “Tumbling Dice”, “Miss You”, “It’s Only Rock n Roll”, “Tumbling Dice” , “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

Of course, the Steel Wheels Tour, and subsequent Urban Jungle Tour, were a massive success and paved the way for not only the Stones future touring but also led the way for a number of stadium acts.

“Steel Wheels Live- Atlantic City, New Jersey” is being released on a number of formats- vinyl, Blu-ray, CD/DVD and a 6-disc super deluxe edition. I would recommend them all. *****

Review by Nikk Gunns

Brian McGowan adds…

Historically, there’s a lot more to this than the music.

In 1989, The Rolling Stones’ “Steel Wheels” tour (aka “The Urban Jungle” Tour, in Europe) steamrollered through 60 North American venues, finishing in Atlantic City, having grossed unbelievable numbers and record ticket sales.

It was an affirmation. “Musical differences” had forced Jagger and Richards apart. Solo efforts pale when put up against the proven success of a world wide brand, and so commercial ambition brought them back together. “Steel Wheels” was the result, and the recordings of the subsequent tour have now been rescued, restored and remastered. Presented here by Eagle Rock in multiple multimedia platforms, from your basic DVD, through DVD+2CDs, onto your affordable luxury formats of Bluray and Coloured Vinyl. Phew … and it’s only rock’n'roll …

At face value, it’s a ‘let’s play it safe’ tour. One based on an apparent lazy rifle through the rich pickings of their back catalogue, performing only a handful of tracks from “Steel Wheels”. But when you go deeper, you discover that this is a revitalised band. And let’s face it, nobody knows better than the ‘Stones how to orchestrate and deliver a live performance for maximum impact: ‘Start Me Up’s elemental, indestructible riff; The finger pickin’ twang that intros ‘Honky Tonk Women’; the sweet gospel soul sound of ‘Gimme Shelter’ and a clearcut, unshowy version of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ all remind us why this is the “greatest rock band in the world”.

Of the “Steel Wheels”’ stuff, a couple of tracks really standout. Fuelled by Richard’s primitively hypnotic riff, the stuttering rhythmic cadences of ‘Rock And A Hard Place’, the band’s Billboard Top Forty hit, still sound fresh and new, as they dance to Jagger’s tortured delivery. And the soft rocking ‘Mixed Emotions’, where Keith demonstrates the less is more riff… the one that’s always remarkably lean, and peppered with barely noticeable gearshifts.

All in all, it’s a solid setlist. Coupled with the sweaty clamour and clang of live performance, it succeeds in merging past with present. And no doubt, that was the intention.

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