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Spins: The Rolling Stones • A Bigger Bang Live on Copacabana Beach

| November 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Rolling Stones

A Bigger Bang Live on Copacabana Beach

(Eagle Vision/Mercury/Universal)

Walking onto the stage before a massive Brazilian crowd stretching as far down Copacabana Beach as the eye can see, the Rolling Stones tear into a revved-up version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to begin this concert filmed on February 18, 2006. The band was deep into a tour supporting 2005’s A Bigger Bang at the time, and the well-oiled set includes album highlights that have vanished from setlists in the years since. Initially filmed for broadcast in North America, this restored footage includes additional songs from the concert.

A Bigger Bang fare includes the spirited but chagrined “Oh No, Not You Again.” With Mick Jagger on guitar, “Rain Fall Down” settles in after a shaky intro and heats up nicely with a deft solo from bassist and Chicago native Darryl Jones. “This Place is Empty” slots into Keith Richards’ mid-set feature alongside an energized “Happy,” with Ron Wood playing lap steel on both songs. Of the newer material, only “Rough Justice” has regularly resurfaced to represent the era. On Copacabana Beach, the fresh cut is unleashed with feral energy.

The band settles into a relaxed groove behind Richards’ guitar and Chuck Leavell’s piano for a vibrant “Wild Horses.” The band, including reserved drummer Charlie Watts, clearly relish a swinging cover of “Night Time Is the Right Time.” Without a run-through “Gimme Shelter,” the Stones use the Ray Charles favorite as a chance to spotlight powerhouse vocalist Lisa Fischer.

In 2021, there’s no denying that some of the thrills here are simply seeing Jagger, Richards, and Wood (who are on tour as of this writing) in the company of beloved bandmates no longer among the living. Saxophonist Bobby Keys ignites “Brown Sugar.” Watts drives the band throughout the show, propelling a spine-tingling “Midnight Rambler” as Jagger blows blues harmonica.

Richards plays his best Chuck Berry riffs during “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” and spars with a shimmying Jagger during the slow grind of “Tumbling Dice” as Wood uncorks a hot Telecaster solo. Jones retakes the spotlight during “Miss You,” joining Watts to spin classic rock’s favorite brush with disco.

A compact mobile stage carries the Stones deep into the enormous throng mid-set. It’s during this segment that the band charges through “Rough Justice.” Jagger dodges most of the debris sent flying toward him from the crowd, even managing to catch and immediately return at least one hurled garment. At one point, he’s pelted in the face as he’s singing but continues as if it’s all part of the gig. Later, Mick dodges a high-velocity object and turns, laughing, to his bandmates. “Watch out for the flying shoe,” he says afterward. Stones legend has it that “Honky Tonk Women” was written on holiday in Brazil. From the small stage, Jagger gets the fans waving shirts and flags throughout the song’s homecoming.

Estimates of the assembled audience put the attendance estimates north of a staggering 1.5 million people. You can hear that mighty choir singing along with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The set concludes with a string of bona fide Stones classics, capped by the adrenalin blast of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Even the seasoned megastars were energized and impressed by the evening. “Well, that’s what it’s like bowing to a million people,” said Jagger afterward. “Not that we’re unused to playing some of the biggest shows in the world,” said Richards, “but I must say Rio did take the cake.” There is no shortage of Rolling Stones concert footage on the market, but the energy surging onstage and off at Copacana Beach sets this release apart. (rollingstones.com)

– Jeff Elbel

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