Lost on the Merch Table, The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour Video
Twenty-five years ago, The Rolling Stones embarked on a worldwide tour in support for their album Voodoo Lounge. And for the first time, it was without original bassist Bill Wyman. What the Voodoo Lounge Tour meant for The Rolling Stones was that they proved to the world that they still had the stamina and charisma to pull off a tour of this capacity without one of their core members, which seems strange because why wouldn’t they? They are the Rolling Stones! It’s not like Wyman was critical to the survival of the touring momentum, although, I am sure it did take a hit to their psyche. And I say this now because we know what The Rolling Stones are still capable of. Twenty-five years ago. Shoo! They could have rocketed into outer space. If they only knew.
I recently found a VHS copy of the Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Live official souvenir video and quickly snagged it up for the 99-cent value. I am guessing they quickly mass produced this concert that was filmed at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the fourth stop, and made it available at their merch booth. For posterity, the Indianapolis stop was the third stop on the tour with Counting Crows opening at the RCA Dome.
Evidence of 2018’s Voodoo Lounge Uncut, an expanded edition that adds the Miami date, it has various special guests share the stage (Sheryl Crow singing “Live With Me,” Robert Cray joining on “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues,” and Bo Diddley for “Who Do You Love?”). However, none of this is present on the souvenir video, and that is a disservice to the capacity this tour presented. It is just Mick, Ron, Charlie, and Keith (the last two looking like golf dads hitting the stage, one in a polo shirt while the other a buttoned-up shirt pulled out to look business casual). It took Mick a majority of the concert to look like a rock and roll icon, changing coat after coat after coat. The only person who dressed the part was Ron, cigarette half dangling from his mouth while keeping the songs moving with his distinguished cool.
Revisiting this concert is like watching a bunch of kids play on a playground. The stage was the brains of a corporate rock machine and the Stones had free reign to romp and roam; Mick took advantage of this, running from stage to scaffolding to platform and back.
The intro shows a long-haired dude slamming an alarm clock and jumping out of bed. He’s late. Holed up in some seedy motel, an estranged girl sits up in the bed while the guy is brushing his teeth and rinsing with a stale Budweiser from the night before. Is this some kind of quirky intro to a porno? No, he is a roadie and the girl has mistaken him for Ron Wood. This observation attests to the mentality from the actress because there is absolutely no resemblance. This intro also unintentionally demonstrates class conflict between the lowly roadie and the hugely successful band. What a failed attempt at humorously trying to make a connection of the touring life while also trying to make the Stones look like cool rock stars. Oh, and Budweiser is a sponsor. Now that makes sense why beer was used as mouthwash.
Despite some real stinkers (the Stones should never play “Shattered” live and Keith Richard’s song “The Worst” from the Voodoo Lounge album lived up to its title), it was cool to see them perform songs like “Rocks Off” with a full horn section. A portion of the set list was surprisingly devoted to Exile On Mainstreet. I will say, “You Got Me Rockin’,” a new song at the time, was a better kickstarter than “Not Fade Away,’ a strange selection for an opener. Then again, The Rolling Stones were trying to prove something here, and they love to make a statement.
Towards the tail end of the set list were the staples like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Start Me Up,” and “It’s Only Rock and Roll.” As I have heard these songs a million times over, it was still a perk when they launched these classics. “Brown Sugar” was also a momentous drive of adrenaline as the crowd went wild. Ironically, the camera stayed away from the African-American back-up singers during this song when we just saw Mick snogging Lisa Fischer who then gyrated around the stage. Mick looked like Richard Dawson from The Family Feud during all of this.
There is just as much greatness as there are cringe-worthy moments to this video. Could it be a product of a project that was rushed to make it to the market? At least the quality of the tape is above par even for tape standards.