There are few songs that immortalised the end of the sixties and the birth of the debauched and drug-filled decade of the seventies that The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’. But perhaps the song’s best performance came nearly 30 years after its first conception.
The Rolling Stones proved at this 1995 performance that perfecting the crystalline moment between the creativity of the ’60s and the trouble of the ’70s is merely down to practice. Accompanied by Lisa Fisher on vocals, for Merry Clayton’s iconic part, the Stones prove that they will always be a rock and roll powerhouse.
When Mick Jagger was asked recently to respond to Paul McCartney’s quotes that The Beatles “were probably” a better band than The Rolling Stones he had a fairly simple and yet powerful response. While he highlighted The Beatles no longer “exist” he also pointed to the fact that The Stones are still selling out arenas to this very day, having had to postpone their upcoming arena tour in light of the lockdown.
It’s a fact that many people have pointed to in defence of The Rolling Stones. The Fab Four may have been an expert studio band but nobody can throw down a show like the Stones. Even in their extending ages, the band can still put on a show. Take a trip back to 1995 and you may just find all the proof you need.
The Rolling Stones’ performance of ‘Gimme Shelter’ at Amsterdam’s Paradiso is quite possibly one of the finest performances of the song we have ever seen. Helped in no small part by the comparative size of the venue, to put it into context; the month before the band had easily filled a 50,000 seater but now were playing to 1,750, the Stones deliver an utterly captivating rendition of the track.
The intimacy of the venue surely helps this slower version of the track take on a new spiritual connection. ‘Gimme Shelter’ has always represented The Rolling Stones quite succinctly. Lyrically advantageous, musically astute and still a little chaotic, all while the imminent danger the song has since come to represent is present throughout. But it was in Merry Clayton’s vocals that this particular song really shines.
Sadly Merry Clayton wasn’t invited on to the 94/95 Voodoo Lounge tour but the group did bring along the extraordinary talent of Lisa Fisher to fill her role. Normally, we would turn people away at the door who would try to claim to have a more imposing performance than Clayton, but in Amsterdam at least, Fisher matches her for every single note.
It’s the cherry on an already sumptuous cake as the Stones slow it all down and take ‘Gimme Shelter’ back to its soulful roots. Keith Richards is on top form, Ronnie Wood is a bouncing joy, while Charlie Watts is steady as ever. All the while Mick Jagger prowls the stage engaging the small crowd.
If you ever needed proof that age is just a number and The Rolling Stones have always been at the very top of the live music pile, then watch the below video.