The Rolling Stones, Amsterdam Netherlands
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headset on, cord attached to the turntable….
The Rolling Stones. They are one of those bands that have always existed in my life. I don’t have a vivid memory of them, like I do of the Beatles. But, I do remember their music and seeing them on television. Who can’t remember Mick Jagger gyrating around onstage? Maybe I have a cassette tape of them from college…let me run downstairs and look right now.
Aha! A fabulous vinyl; Tattoo You from 1981.” Start Me Up”, of course! I know had more, but most of my vinyl collection was lost during my transient college years. I still have quite a few, though. My music selection was as diverse then as it is now. I have everything from Barry Manilow to KISS. Some very precious childhood memories. Especially now that our legendary artists are starting to pass onto another musical plain in life. Unfortunately, I did not attend very many concerts in my teens and twenties. I missed out on a lot. The Rolling Stones is one of the bands I never saw. When they announced their Europe 2017 Unfiltered Tour, I started searching for a city to see them. Amsterdam came up. I’m a flight attendant, who regularly flies to Amsterdam out of Seattle, so perfect! Of course, the tickets sold out quickly. But, I was persistent and kept checking Ticketmaster to see if any showed up. After 4 days of checking, I had success. One lone ticket showed up, so I bought it! I kept checking back for a second ticket and after half an hour, another showed up. RIGHT NEXT TO THE ONE I BOUGHT! I couldn’t believe it. My husband walked in the door later that evening and I said, “I bought two tickets to The Rolling Stones in Amsterdam! Happy 30th Anniversary!” And, a new adventure was about to begin.
A fabulous benefit of being a flight attendant, is the free travel privileges. We decided to go a couple of days before the concert, so we could explore Amsterdam. September 27 arrived, we checked in for our flight, and totally lucked out in being assigned Business Class seats! Excellent food, champagne and lie flat seats. A fantasy lifestyle. My crew was fantastic, as they are people that I fly with a lot. After the meal service, we chatted in the galley. It’s always interesting to find out who the other passengers are on the flight. This day, we had Randy Altig from Maximum Living, and his family onboard. It was interesting to hear about this life adventures, and his new book ‘Tuscany Next Left.’ I loved looking at his photos and listening to his stories. It made the 10-hour flight go by quickly. Soon, it was time to land, and we were off on our Amsterdam adventure.
We had two free days, before the concert. We spent them wandering around the Museum Quarter, and visited the Van Gogh Museum and The Heineken Experience. Every bar we entered was playing The Stones music, so obviously, there were a lot of people in town for the concert. It added more excitement to our trip.
The day of the concert arrived, and we headed down to the Central Train Station. The Amsterdam Arena is a 15-minute train ride from central Amsterdam. That is something I really appreciate about Europe; their well-organized transportation system. The Amsterdam Arena is the largest stadium in the country and home of the association football club AFC Ajax. It has a capacity of 54,033 people during football matches, and 35, 000 for concerts. We were very impressed with the layout of the outer area, which provided restaurants and bars before you entered the stadium. The first item on our concert agenda was to purchase t-shirts. It was a packed line that took nearly 30 minutes to get in front. We had to do lots of deep breathing to handle being squished on all sides by people, but we finally scored our t-shirts!
We had reserved seats, so did not rush into the arena. However, when it was time, the security process was thorough and well organized.
It was exhilarating when The Rolling Stones walked onstage! How do you process seeing lifetime legends for the first time? And, they were still amazing. I loved their screen backdrop on the stage. There were 4 separate panels, and the cameras would show all four of them during the performance. Even though we had good seats, it was still nice to see them so close.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. Ranging in age from 70 to 76, and still ROCKIN’ IT OUT! Mick is all over the stage, and Charlie is the solo drummer. I was so impressed by that. Usually in older bands, there is an additional drummer, but not with The Stones. Ronnie had just had a tumor removed from his lung. And Keith Richards. All I can hear in my mind now, is his very distinct, gravely laugh. But here they were, defying all odds of being together, after all of these years. Additional musicians were Darryl Jones (bass guitar, backing vocals), Sasha Allen (backing vocals), Karl Denson (saxophone), Tim Ries (saxophone, keyboards), Chuck Leavell (keyboards, backing vocals, percussion), Matt Clifford (keyboards, percussion, French Horn) and Bernard Fowler (backing vocals, percussion).
Their setlist was incredible. 20 songs, and I think we stood up for most of them. An interesting observation in comparing European crowds with American crowds; a lack of cellphones lighting up the arena. There were a few lit up, but for the most part, people were just ‘being in the moment’. I took a few photos, but I also wanted to absorb as much as possible. High energy, fantastic vocals and guitars. They switched off with solo performances, so either Mick or one of the others could go offstage to rest. But then, it was back to cranking it up! They obviously were having a wonderful time and still thoroughly enjoyed performing. On some of the songs, videos were shown from their performances from the 60’s. They are truly a rock and roll phenomenon. Too soon, the show was over, and we were left standing in shock. We just saw THE ROLLING STONES!
The train station looked completely backed up with people, so we hung out in a bar for a while. As chance would have it, we ended up talking to a couple of young, Scottish musicians; Jay Carrington and Ryan Lawrie. Ryan was a 6th place finalist in the UK XFactor 2016. Young men in their early 20’s, who are inspired by The Rolling Stones. That’s one of those amazing things about music. It doesn’t matter the age differences or cultural differences. We’re all the same in our connection with it.
Keep pursuing your musical passions lads, we need you to carry it onto the future.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE