Fine Arab Charger
(February 22, 2014) - Following two weeks of rehearsals in France, the Stones opened their “14 on Fire” tour last night in the United Arab Emirates, a country they’ve never visited before. They delivered a 19-song set at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island Arena, where most of the 30,000 fans had never witnessed a Stones concert in their lives.
Apart from a few songs, like “Slipping Away” and “Emotional Rescue” (during which the “riding across the desert on a fine Arab charger” lyric drew some cheers), the Stones offered a basic primer of their well-worn hits (see set list, above left).
However, as the tour progresses to the Far East and Down Under, the Stones are liable to pull out some surprises. Their French rehearsals (which began February 3 in Bondy, a suburb of Paris) saw them run through some interesting r&b covers – like “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” – and had them make good use of former bandmate Mick Taylor.
Similar to the Stones shows in 2013, Taylor came out last night in Abu Dhabi to join the band on “Midnight Rambler.” But if the French rehearsals are any indication, he might also play on several other nuggets with which he’s associated (and which the band didn’t perform in 2013), like “Silver Train,” “Moonlight Mile” and “Till The Next Goodbye.”
During the two weeks of rehearsals in France (ten actual working days, Monday through Friday), there were two notable (and blessed!) events:
One was that Keith missed the rehearsal on Friday, February 7, and for a much better reason than he used to miss rehearsals in the 1970s. He flew to England for the weekend to meet his newborn grandson, Otto. (The mother is Keith’s daughter Angela, who lives in West Sussex. She gave birth on the 6th.)
The other event took place on Friday, February 14, when, instead of their usual pre-tour surprise warm-up gig at a local nightclub, the band invited 27 fans inside the studio to experience a rehearsal firsthand. Those lucky fans (who’d been camping outside the studio for hours, if not days) got to see eleven songs, including “Silver Train” (with Mick Taylor) and “Doom and Gloom.” The band then flew to Abu Dhabi on Sunday the 16th. (The photo above was taken shortly after they landed.)
current tour is called “14 on Fire” not just as an allusion to
the year 2014, but also to the number of shows on the schedule.
From the United Arab Emirates, it’s off to Japan for three dates
at the Tokyo Dome, before ten shows in China, Singapore,
Australia and New Zealand.
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