The Rolling Stones: return to the Olympia

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The Rolling Stones publish for the first time the complete of their 1995 concert at the Olympia in Paris. A high-level live performance.

Paris, July 3, 1995. Following their two concerts at the Longchamp racecourse, in front of more than 160,000 people, The Rolling Stones announce that they will perform for one evening only at the Olympia, thirty-one years after having played there for the first time. A huge queue in front of the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Élysées, the only place where tickets will be sold, testifies to the importance of the event.

At 5 a.m., there are already hundreds waiting for the ticket office to open. Some even came directly from the Longchamp concert. But only 2,000 privileged people will have the chance to acquire the precious sesame – a small blue plastic bracelet – which will give them access to the prestigious performance hall. That evening, they will witness a huge show, in every sense of the word. It’s been a long time since it’s been possible to see the Stones in such an intimate setting as this. It’s the very antithesis of the excessive “Voodoo Lounge” tour, which they decided to complete by playing at the Olympia, the Paradiso in Amsterdam and the Brixton Academy in London.

Stadia regulars, they are once again at the top, boosted by the arrival of high-flying sidemen in their ranks. In addition to Darryl Jones, Bill Wyman’s replacement on bass, the group called on keyboardist Chuck Leavell, saxophonist Bobby Keys, an old traveling companion supported by a third of brass instruments, and backing singers Lisa Fischer, Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin . For Ronnie Wood, “Chuck Leavell is a bit like the keeper of the books, the curator of the songs. He takes notes on the performance strategy of each one: how we played it last time and the one before… When there is a disagreement on how to play a song, Chuck takes out his notes… and problem is solved.”

Thanks to Leavell and his talented acolytes, the Stones will give the best of themselves at the Olympia. From the intro of “Honky Tonk Women”, played in open tuning by Keith Richards on his Telecaster, the atmosphere is more than electric. “I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis/She tried to take me upstairs for a ride”, sings Mick Jagger in his black leather coat, and the whole room goes up in flames. Let’s go for a powerful show which will remain in the annals of the group’s history. Keith Richards takes the opportunity to sketch a few boogie piano notes during Chuck Leavell’s solo. The tone is set. Among the guests, we spot Jack Nicholson, Jerry Hall, and even Keith Richards’ father, Bert.

Find this article about The Rolling Stones at the Olympia in full in our issue 158, available on newsstands and via our online store.

Also relive the entire career of the rock giants through our special issue dedicated to Mick Jagger, available on newsstands and via our online store.

Staff

Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.