Bridges to Bremen (Live)

Bridges to Bremen (Live)

Even the staunchest Rolling Stones fan wouldn’t suggest that 1997’s Bridges to Babylon marked a peak in the band’s then 35-year history. So this long-lost live companion, which arrives two decades further down the road, might be considered more a point of discussion among curious archivists and completists than an absolute must-hear. That said, then as now, the ’90s Stones were still capable of intermittently knocking it toward the fences, if not quite out of the park, over the course of an “on” night. And fortunately for the European TV stations that aired the original Bridges to Bremen performance live from the titular German town’s Weserstadion on September 2, 1998, they caught the Stones on an “on” night. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s guitars sound properly gnarled and locked-on for most of this show’s two-hour breadth, generally compensating for the lack of menace in the gentlemanly arrangements of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” That same ambling gait, however, rather befits the sprawling, jammy versions of “Miss You” and “Sympathy for the Devil”—captured here along with a fond, for-the-heads resurrection of the lesser-worn Black and Blue ballad “Memory Motel.” Authentic Stones-of-yore sparks fly on a seething “Gimme Shelter” and on an all-in shakedown of “Tumbling Dice” that slacks and slides exactly where and when it should. Not only do the Stones manage to sell Babylon’s “Flip the Switch” and Voodoo Lounge’s “You Got Me Rocking” as somehow worthy of the canon, but they get a whole stadium’s worth of Bremenites to sing “Saint of Me” back to life long after it’s done.

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