Archive for the ‘Billy Preston’ Category

The Rolling Stones Newcastle City Hall 13th September 1973 (late show)

The Rolling Stones Newcastle City Hall September 1973
The Rolling Stones returned to Newcastle in 1973, two years after I first saw them at the same venue. This time I was determined to get a ticket when they went on sale, having had to buy one outside the gig on the night in 1971. The tickets went on sale on a Sunday morning, the box office of the City Hall opening specially, as big crowds were expected. So two friends and I decided to queue overnight for tickets to ensure that we go to the concert. We turned up at the City Hall early on the Saturday morning, more than 24 hours before the tickets were due to go on sale. There were already a few people in front of us in the queue as we settled down for a long wait. And wait we did. As the day went on, a few more joined the queue. It wasn’t until later in the day that most people arrived, but by Saturday night the queue was weaving its way round the corner and along the street. The City Hall steps are not the most comfortable place to sleep, and in fact we didn’t get much sleep at all, but the crack with the crowd was good, everyone having fun and feeling pretty good that we knew we would be getting tickets. By the time Sunday morning came, the queue was massive and it was clear that many people would be going home disappointed, even though the Stones were playing two shows. As in 1971, the band were playing an early (6.30pm) and late (8.45pm) show. Last time I went to the early show. This time we were planning to buy tickets for the late show and were feeling very grown up as a result! When the box office finally opened, we were still pretty near the front of the queue and managed to buy tickets in the middle of the second row of the stalls! Looking back I wish I’d had the foresight (and the cash) to go to both shows.
The night of the gig came some weeks later. The support act was Billy Preston, who also, as I recall played keyboards in the Stones band. I knew little by Billy other than his Beatles connections (he played on Get Back and at the rooftop concert) and the hit Thats the way God planned it. As I remember he was pretty good, and got us all singing along to Thats the way God planned it. The Stones came on, exploding into Brown Sugar. My friends and I couldn’t believe how close we were to the band. Unlike the early show in 1971, everyone was up on their feet from the start. The set continued with Gimme Shelter, Keith singing Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star (the lyrics seemed very rude to me as a young teenager), Dancing with Mr. D, Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down the Line, Rip This Joint, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man as an encore. The Stones seemed to me to be the perfect rock band at that point, and this was to be the last time I saw them in a venue as small as the City Hall, although not the last time I was so close to the stage. Jagger was the ultimate rock show man, and they all looked young, fit and still hungry to make their mark as the greatest rock n roll band in the world. For us young teenagers that night they definitely were the greatest band we had ever seen, and this was a gig that we talked about again and again, and for a long time after. Its interesting to note that in the early 70s the Stones were not playing any of their early 60s hits on stage, something they have returned to more recently.