On May 20, 2015, some 1,200 lucky Rolling Stones fans were treated to a concert in which the band played through all ten songs from the 1971 classic Sticky Fingers. The show provided an official kick off for the Stones’ Zip Code Tour, 17 North American shows performed between May and July 2015. With a deluxe reissue of Sticky Fingers as a then-“new” release, the tour’s name was a jokey reference to that album’s original functioning-zipper album cover. The whole “Sticky Fingers-in-its-entirety” concept was not carried past this one Fonda Theatre date, resulting in the show presented on this latest From the Vault release a special thing indeed.
As with most of the From the Vault series, Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 is a Blu-ray/CD combo pack (also available as DVD/CD). The presentation differs considerably—the CD functions as a live album of the entire 16-song concert in the order it actually rolled out. The main film on the Blu-ray drops a few songs (fear not, they’re included as a bonus feature!) and adds some interview footage. The interview clips offer the band’s recollections of the Sticky Fingers album, but their placement is arguable not ideal. It might’ve made for a smoother viewing experience if the three dropped songs (which run a total of 15 minutes) had been left in their proper place, with the interviews instead collected as a bonus featurette.
That’s carping really, because the Fonda Theatre concert film is mostly a great watch, with Eagle Rock’s customary high standards for audio quality (DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround and LPCM 2.0 stereo are two choices). The band chose to scramble the order of Sticky Fingers, apparently to optimize the live experience—for instance, album opener “Brown Sugar” closes the Sticky portion of the concert. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ron Wood are in fine, joined by their longtime touring bassist Darryl Jones, Chuck Leavell (keyboards), Karl Denson (sax), Lisa Fischer (backing vocals), and more.
If anything, the energy level is arguably a bit too high at certain points. The band gooses the tempo a bit egregiously on a few tunes, with the awesomely oppressive weight of the studio take on “Sway” noticeably (and detrimentally) lifted when played closer to mid-tempo like this. “Moonlight Mile” is another that could’ve used a bit more restraint. But the highlights make up for these minor disappointments, with many tunes boasting some of Jagger’s strongest live vocals in a long time. “I Got the Blues” is particularly nuanced (and one of the show’s most impassioned numbers).
Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 is by far the most recent From the Vault entry thus far. Previous entries in the series include Hyde Park 1969, The Marquee Club Live 1971, Hampton Coliseum 1981, Live in Leeds 1982, and Live at the Tokyo Dome 1990. Fonda Theatre happens to be the first From the Vault release in about two years. Hopefully the series continues as it’s impossible to have “too much” Stones.