The group also issued a DVD shot in 16mm film of an intimate concert mid-way through the 1978 American tour that I have been watching pretty much non-stop for the past week, called Live In Texas ’78.
The Stones are in top form at this show. The film catches the band on probably its last tour before it got into the big shows with the over the top props and ramps into the audience and all of that. Here it’s a tight five piece with two keyboard players augmenting the sound. And while the band did do some stadiums on the 1978 tour, this show was at a 3,000-seat theater in Fort Worth, Texas.
The set list is exciting. They kick it off with Let It Rock by Chuck Berry and then slide into some older, familiar tunes like All Down the Line and Honky Tonk Women. But then they soon hit the new material, which was from the mostly punk-inspired Some Girls album. Here the band really hits its stride. Jagger straps on a Strat for When The Whip Comes Down and we see Keith cue the bridge when the time is right. Throughout the night, the Stones perform like they still have something to prove. And new band member Ronnie Wood has clearly added some fire to the lineup.
The band does seven of the ten songs on Some Girls, only omitting Lies, Before They Make Me Run and the title track. This is the last tour where they did so much new material live – and per a 2011 interview with Jagger in the DVD bonus goodies, this was unique even on this tour – they did all that new stuff on this night because it was a small show. A big highlight for me is the live version of Just My Imagination – not punk inspired, rather just groovy and rockin.
Despite the tightness of the group, the arrangements on many of the new songs are loose, with solo sections in different places than the album, and Jagger adding extra lines like in Miss You. In fact despite the fact that Miss You was the big single at the time, the song is pretty much an extended jam with Jagger again on guitar, so Keith and Woody take loads of solos, sometimes at the same time!
There is all sorts of shit in this film you’d never see in a concert film today, like a roadie mopping up a spilled drink by the drum riser during All Down The Line. And the hole on the ass of Jagger’s pants that is covered with duct tape during the first few songs but then is gone and it looks like his underwear is hanging out of the hole all night.
Or in Far Away Eyes, when Mick starts the song on piano but after a verse is having problems with it so he moves to the organ and just picks up where he left off. And…why are Bill Wyman’s middle two fingers bound together? That’s another weird little thing on this film. Regardless, he plays great. I always thought he was fairly mediocre but this music shows off his chops. Even on a slow burner like Beast of Burden his parts are moving and melodic. Good stuff.
Where the Ladies and Gentleman film from the Exile tour showcased Mick Taylor pretty much noodling through every song, this concert showcases the emerging guitar interplay between Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. Wood is rock solid and is just playing, instead of all the mugging he does these days.
In fact none of the band is mugging. Again, somewhere after this tour they became sort of caricatures of themselves in concert but here they are the real deal. Jagger’s voice is still in that really throaty mode, which he got out of later. It’s evident in Beast of Burden, which is a more aggressive delivery than on the album.
And let’s not forget Charlie Watts – rock solid and probably in his prime here.
After seven new songs in a row, the band shifts back to familiar ground with Love In Vain, an incendiary Tumblin Dice, another Chuck Berry cover, Happy (with Keith on vocal of course) and then the one-two punch of Brown Sugar and Jumpin Jack Flash.
The bonus tracks are interesting but probably only worth one viewing. The aforementioned Jagger interview is good. The band’s 1978 Saturday Night Live performance is on here – all three songs – and it’s just as I remember it. Terrible. The mix sucks, Jagger’s voice is gone and the performances are just poor overall. But Jagger and Dan Aykroyd doing a mock appearance on the Today show is a keeper.
You got a Stones fan you want to dazzle this Christmas? Get them this DVD, and Ladies and Gentlemen. They’ll love you forever.