Revisiting The Rolling Stones’ triumphant performance of ‘Gimme Shelter’ from the Tokyo Dome
There are few finer things in life than the magic that is created when the unstoppable forces of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards collide on stage. Despite playing together for close to 60 years, the duo have rarely faded their intensity which is testament to the rock and roll DNA that runs firmly throughout their veins.
Following the release of their 1989 record Steel Wheels, The Rolling Stones set out on a mammoth world tour in support of the new material which arrived as their first string of live dates in eight years—and they were hell-bent on making it worth the wait. The tour kicked off in Philadelphia on 12th August 1989 and wouldn’t finish for over 12 months when they played the final of four sold-out dates at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The tour was promoted by Michael Cohl who made his name buying the concert, sponsorship, merchandising, radio, television, and film rights to the Steel Wheels dates, with it becoming the most financially successful rock tour in history up to that time.
After being away from the road for such a long period of time, the tour kickstarted the second chapter of The Stones’ career where they would perform live infrequently unlike the early years. However, when they occasionally did return to the stage, you knew it was an event that was unmissable. One particular run of dates from the tour saw the band take over Japan with a ten-show residency at the capital’s Tokyo Dome, performances that brought an end to their eight-year live hiatus.
For a band who had seemingly conquered everything, this run of dates would mark new territory for the band who had actually never played in Japan prior to that moment. After the historic set of concerts was released on DVD in 2012, Mick Jagger told Google Play: “It was the first time we’d ever played in Japan. We’d never played there before. We weren’t allowed to go there, because they wouldn’t let us in after some visa and drug problems.”
Jagger then spoke that the shows did come with some difficulties which you wouldn’t guess judging by their euphoric performance, he added: “This was a very difficult gig to play though, the indoor dome because it was very echoey. It was very hard to hear yourself as well so it was a tricky place to play, very tricky. We had this huge stage, which was the steel wheel stage which I don’t know how it arrived in Japan, it was massively large even by today’s standards.”
Keith Richards said pressure from fans eventually convinced authorities to let them play. “I always figured they were making a big mistake. It only made people wonder why you weren’t letting us in. What are you scared of? We’re just a bunch of guitar players for Christ’s sake.”
The 24-song set was jam-packed with classics such as ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Miss You’, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ however, it was ‘Gimme Shelter’ which was the most special moment where you can see the band truly enjoying every second of the performance which saw them finally conquered Japan.