There was arguably no finer live band on the planet than The Rolling Stones in 1972. A band who would spark carnage wherever they went and, more often than not, the police would be on hand to calm things down. However, their gigs also had a warmer side to them as this spine-tingling performance of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ is evidence of.
The track, which always provides a special moment when they perform live, remained a secret weapon for the Stones for many years. Despite releasing the number in 1968, it wasn’t until their Exile On Main St. tour in ’72 that it became a mainstay and The Stones have barely played a show without it over the last 48 years.
That tour was arguably the wildest in the history of The Rolling Stones’ life on the road, which is some achievement. It couldn’t have started in a more chaotic fashion, a time when 31 policemen at the Vancouver show on the opening night required treated for injuries after more than 2,000 fans attempted to crash the venue. Given the dangers, the band’s reputation was freefalling.
This catastrophic moment would, unfortunately, go on and set the tone for the rest of the tour. Ten days later, on June 13th in San Diego, another 60 arrests occurred and 15 people were treated for injuries as a result of their performance. The following night in Tucson, Arizona, the police would go on to use tear gas on 300 fans attempting to make their way onto the stage.
Just when the band couldn’t imagine the situation deteriorating any further, things only got worse. Days later, 81 people were arrested at the two sold-out Houston shows on June 25th, mostly for marijuana possession and other minor drug offences with 61 also arrested on their huge Fourth of July celebratory show at the RFK Stadium in Washington.
More discrepancies would then occur on July 17th at the Montreal Forum when, unfathomably, a bomb blew up in the Stones’ equipment van meaning replacement gear had to be flown in. It was also discovered that 3,000 forged tickets had been sold which caused a fan riot and a late start to the concert.
The next day, The Stones’ entourage got into a fight with photographer Andy Dickerman in Rhode Island and band members Jagger and Richards landed themselves in jail. Thankfully for them, the two were bailed out by Boston Mayor Kevin White as he was frightened that a riot would break out if the show was cancelled.
Despite all of the non-stop crazy antics which were happening off-stage throughout the six-weeks they were on the road, one thing could not be disputed and that’s the majestic performances the band put on night after night.
‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want‘ always provided a moment’s respite for the angsty audience who could take a step back from the madness and soak in the historic event that they were witnessing before their own eyes. The material is also one of The Stones tracks which Mick Jagger is most proud of, as he explained: “It’s a good song, even if I say so myself. It’s got a very sing-along chorus, and people can identify with it: No one gets what they always want. It’s got a very good melody. It’s got very good orchestral touches that Jack Nitzsche helped with. So it’s got all the ingredients.”
These ingredients that Jagger notes make for a special audio experience when you hear it on Let It Bleed but when it is performed live, the track elevates to another level and is guaranteed to send chills all across your body as this rendition from their Exile On Main St. tour is a testament of.