The Rolling Stones announced their Voodoo Lounge tour in New York City in May 1994, and two months later the record of the same name was released. A little over a week after the album came out, The Stones played one of their traditional warm-up gigs, this one at the RPM Club in Toronto, and almost two weeks later the opening night of the full tour at Washington’s Robert F Kennedy Stadium.
Between August 1 and December 18, 1994, The Stones criss-crossed America and Canada, playing stadia, domes, bowls, fields, along with the odd arena thrown in for good measure, before heading South. During the Southern Hemisphere summer, they played Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Ellis Park, the home of South African rugby in the newly founded Rainbow Nation.
From South Africa, the band flew east to Tokyo for their second visit to Japan to appear in concert. On March 3, 1995, three days before the first of seven nights at Tokyo Dome, The Stones took over Toshiba/EMI Studios in the Japanese capital to begin work on the album that became, Stripped. The Stones invited Don Was to produce the Tokyo sessions and subsequent album and he arrived in Tokyo direct from The Grammy ceremony on March 1st, where he and the band had won awards for “Best Rock Album” and “Producer of the Year” for Voodoo Lounge, Don’s first album with the band.
Having completed their two days in the studio and recorded a whole host of material, The Stones played Tokyo Dome, then Fukeoka, before spending three weeks in Australia and New Zealand performing huge outside shows. Six weeks later the fourth leg of the Voodoo Lounge tour got underway on May 26, 1995, with two nights at one of Amsterdam’s best known and best-loved venues for visiting bands – The Paradiso. This was the first of three small theatre shows that were recorded and filmed with a view to including some of the material on the Stripped album.
The former church building had been a hippie squat during the Summer of Love and the following year opened as an entertainment venue for the young, soon attaining its status as a great gig, but a small one, as it has a capacity of under 2,000.
The Rolling Stones opened their first Paradiso show, with “Not Fade Away,” their reworking of Buddy Holly’s homage to Bo Diddley’s beat. Like most of the first part of their set at The Paradiso, it features Ronnie on acoustic guitar and has a lovely relaxed vibe to it.
“Street Fighting Man” is the only number performed at The Paradiso to be included on the original Stripped album, so the DVD is a great chance to see the band on the tiny stage, going through many, much loved, songs that did not feature on the Voodoo Lounge tour or the original album.
Among the songs they perform is “Shine A Light,” from Exile on Main St, a number they had never played before on stage; Don Was plays some great soulful organ. It’s among their 20 song set at The Paradiso, of which only seven songs would be in the band’s set at Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium for the first night proper of the European leg of Voodoo Lounge. Among the songs that they did play on all their theatre shows and on the European leg of Voodoo Lounge, is a song that as Mick joked, “Bob Dylan wrote for us.” “Like A Rolling Stone” is one of the highlights of these gigs; both Mick and Keith love the song and according to Mick, “I really got inside it, and I enjoyed it. I love playing the harmonica on it.”
Seven of the songs The Stones played in Amsterdam were not played on the other theatre gigs that followed The Paradiso; in Amsterdam, they did “The Worst” from Voodoo Lounge featuring Keith on lead vocals, but it was dropped from the other theatre gigs. Among the other songs they only performed in Amsterdam is a stellar version of “Gimme Shelter” featuring Lisa Fischer reprising Merry Clayton’s role to great effect; it also features some brilliant interplay between Keith and Ronnie’s guitars.
It’s what makes these three theatre-style concerts so arresting. The Stones play a total of 64 songs over the three theatre gigs, but only five numbers are played on each one of the shows. In all, the Stones play 36 different numbers, of which half are played at only one of the shows. Of the 14 tracks on the original Stripped album, only six were from the three theatre shows (1 from Amsterdam, 2 from London and 3 from Paris). Totally Stripped will be a total revelation…even to long-term Stones fans.