The Rolling Stones 1973 Kooyong Concert

The Rolling Stones 1973 Kooyong ConcertThe Rolling Stones 1973 Kooyong Concert

Over two (very) hot days in Melbourne in 1973, the world's greatest rock band came to town..The Rolling Stones

Saturday 17 February, 1973: Kooyong Tennis Centre (two shows - afternoon and night)

Sunday 18 February, 1973: Kooyong Tennis Centre

Set list: Brown Sugar / Bitch/Rocks Off/ Gimme Shelter / Happy / Tumbling Dice / Love In Vain / Sweet Virginia / You Can't Always Get What You Want / Honky Tonk Women / All Down The Line / Midnight Rambler / Band introduction/Bye Bye Johnny/Jumping Jack Flash/Street Fighting Man

Support: Madder Lake

Part of the the first concert was filmed by ABC TV for a GTK special

Note: The Rolling Stones first came to Melbourne in 1966, playing at The Palais in St Kilda.

THE ROLLING STONES | 1973 Pacific tour

Promoter: Paul Dainty

Mick Jagger (vocals, percussion, harmonica)
Keith Richards (guitar, vocals)
Mick Taylor (guitar)
Bill Wyman (bass)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Bobby Keyes (sax)
Jim Price (trumpet/trombone)
Nicky Hopkins (keyboards)

Support acts:
Madder Lake (Melbourne)

The Rolling Stones At Kooyong 1973

By Brian Nankervis


In many ways, my friend Andy and I had been preparing for the Kooyong concerts for years.

We met in Year Seven, in 1968. I was already a Stones fan thanks to my cousins. Andy had an older sister who insisted that The Stones were much cooler than the Beatles. The Stones became our band and while we were too young to experience the early years and the golden run of hits like ‘Satisfaction', ‘Get Off My Cloud', ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown' and ‘Paint It Black', by the time ‘Jumping Jack Flash' came pounding out of the radio we were paying close attention. The political fury of ‘Street Fighting Man' and the primal blues of the ‘Beggars Banquet' album blew our tiny minds.

The cool kids at school liked The Stones and could reproduce the cowbell intro to ‘Honky Tonk Woman' note for note. (They were the boys who could imitate the guitar riff to ‘Sunshine Of Your Love' with gusto, lips pushed together and heads bobbing.) By 1969 they were dancing like Mick Jagger, hands on hips, goose-stepping through the tuck shop, flamboyantly pointing at kids who had no idea what they were doing. We knew what they were doing.

Then the live album from The Stones' first tour of America in three years ("history's first mythic rock and roll tour" according to critic Robert Christgau) arrived. ‘Get Yer Ya Yas Out', was an incredible LP, guaranteed to get every party started and Jagger's between song patter added a humorous dimension to our mimicry. "Think I busted a button on my trousers. Hope they don't fall down. You don't want my trousers to fall down now do you?" ... "Oh New York City you talk a lot, let's have a look at you!" ... "Charlie's good tonight isn't he?" We'd quote these stage comments on the tram or in Biology in a loose approximation of Jagger's cheeky voice. We thought we were hilarious.

We watched ‘Gimme Shelter' and were stunned as the band played on while Hells Angels beat fans with pool cues and a young man was stabbed. We were aroused by Tina Turner fellating her microphone, fascinated by glimpses into recording studios and hotel rooms and amazed to see Keith playing a cassette version of ‘Brown Sugar' they'd just recorded at Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama. Mostly we were thrilled by the style and the substance, the sound and the fury of this band, playing live in front of adoring crowds. We wanted that experience in Melbourne.

‘Sticky Fingers' in 1971 and ‘Exile On Main Street' in 1972 added fuel to the fire and when tickets went on sale somewhere near the Tivoli arcade in Bourke Street, just near ‘Surf Dive and Ski', we were at the front of the line, buying tickets for both shows. I reckon we paid $5 a ticket, bought them in early December and carried them with us all summer long. "We Play, Rain Hail or Shine" the tickets said.

February 17 finally arrived and I sat high up in the grandstand, waiting. My stomach churned. It was hot, incredibly hot, but I was oblivious to the rising mercury. The Stones were in Hawthorn. The support band, Madder Lake had finished, the roadies had cleared off and "everything seemed to be ready". It felt surreal. I looked at Andy and we sang the final chorus of ‘Brown Sugar', people around us joined in and we started slow clapping and yelling and cheering. Suddenly, there was movement down the front, the crowd began to roar and I started shaking. The Rolling Stones were about to play.

Forty years later what I treasure most is that initial, heady thrill of seeing the band walk onto the stage in the blistering afternoon heat and begin playing. I laughed out loud when they launched into the first song, ‘Brown Sugar'. Laughed with sheer exhilaration and relief. Laughed to hear Keith Richards play those perfect chords out front of Charlie's rock solid beat. Here they were, The Rolling Stones playing right in front of me. I can still see the rows of amps covered in white material, Keith swaggering elegantly in bell bottom denim jeans, Bill standing like a statue, Mick Taylor playing his guitar effortlessly, Bobby Keys stepping forward to play sax solos just like he played them on the records and the black security guard who sat on the side of stage, clapping along with every single song while trams rattled along Glenferrie Road.

Surprisingly, I also recall a fleeting sense of disappointment watching Mick Jagger. I wanted him to look and move like he did in ‘Gimme Shelter' and yet three years later his hair seemed too short, the scarf and jump suit too glam and he appeared to be running rather than dancing. Be careful what you pray for.

But it was The Stones at last and I could easily dismiss these minor gripes and let myself get carried away with the show. They were loud and raw and a little loose but the crowd soon spilled from their seats and danced in the concrete aisles and we were united, experiencing that intangible magic we'd been yearning for. The set list was great. Hit after hit after hit. ‘Tumbling Dice', ‘Happy', ‘Gimme Shelter', ‘Sweet Virginia', ‘All Down the Line'. Keith and Mick Taylor trading guitar solos on the slow blues of ‘Love In Vain', the mock theatrics of ‘Midnight Rambler' with Jagger on his knees, moaning and whispering and yelping, slapping his belt onto the shiny stage. The visceral power of ‘Jumping Jack Flash'. It's a gas, gas, gas.

The band finished with ‘Street Fighting Man' and while Mick threw rose petals from a bucket and yelled "we gotta go, we gotta go" over a wall of white noise, I was elated, knowing that for me it wasn't over. We had tickets for the next show a few hours later. At night, in the dark, under lights. It would be more like the concerts we'd seen on film and I wouldn't be so nervous and it wouldn't be so hot. We'd seen fans sneak down the front after the first couple of songs and stand right in front of the stage and we were determined to do that ourselves.

We filed out of the stadium comparing notes and favourite moments and stood in groups, not quite sure what to do before the next show. Someone suggested we jump over a nearby fence and soon we were swimming in our jocks in a pool in the grounds of Scotch College, doing bombs and horsies, yelling our heads off, singing ‘Brown Sugar'. "I said yeah, yeah, yeah, whoo!" ... ecstatic that we were about to see The Rolling Stones. In Melbourne. In a tennis stadium. Again!


By Billy Pinnell

Struth! Can it really be 40 years since my brother Peter and I sat in the stands at the Kooyong Tennis Centre on the hottest Saturday afternoon in living memory to see The Rolling Stones?

Shit it was hot, as hot as the music the Stones had created since Peter and I last saw them at The Palais in 1966,their two most recent albums, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street would, as we hoped, feature heavily this afternoon along with a few songs from Let It Bleed and some earlier hits, ‘Satisfaction' not being one of them.

Since '66 the band's sound had radically changed along with the depth of their songwriting. Gone was Brian Jones and his Vox Teardrop guitar to be replaced my Mick Taylor who would move on shortly after the completion of the '73 tour leaving a gaping hole that has never been adequately filled.

Also on board were saxophonist Bobby Keys, trumpet/trombonist Jim Price and pianist Nicky Hopkins. Ian Stewart would make a cameo appearance on a couple of songs.

I can't recall ticket prices ($5?) but I do remember there being hundreds of motorcycles parked around Kooyong's perimeter, while the view would have been limited, hopefully the sound was OK.

Watching support band Madder Lake do a terrific set, you almost forgot how friggin' hot it was. (Did I mention that already?).

Now began the long wait (over an hour) for the Stones to honour us with their presence. As the perspiration flowed I remembered a quote from the late Bill Graham who ran The Fillmores in the 60's.

"Mick Jagger is not God," said Bill to a reporter in 1970. "Every gig he turns up late. Every fucking gig he makes the promoter and the people bleed" [or, in this case, sweat].

"What fucking right does he think he has to treat people this way?"

Obviously Mick hadn't taken umbrage at Bill's remarks as the afternoon got hotter and the delay longer. Comic relief was a welcomed distraction when the dapper, immaculately dressed Harold de Marigny a show-biz journalist well known at the time for his letter writing to The Listener In-TV and frequent appearances at various music receptions/press conferences was escorted from the stage (what was he doing there?) by a roadie who looked like a cross between Joel Garner The Yeti.

Then, at long last, out struts Mick shielding his pale body under a parasol - well, as I was saying it was bloody hot - the band opening with a rousing ‘Brown Sugar' followed immediately by ‘Bitch' punctuated by Price & Keys' horns and Keith's stinging guitar.

Other highlights, there were plenty, included Taylor's slide on ‘Love In Vain,' Keith taking centre stage on ‘Sweet Virginia' and ‘Happy' the twin guitars on ‘Midnight Rambler,' Charlie and Bill pumping it out on ‘Rocks Off' and ‘All Down The Line,' Hopkins weaving magical arpeggios on ‘You Can't Always Get What You Want.'

Throughout the entire 15-song performance the crowd was mesmerised by Jagger's performance, a standard he's maintained to this day.

Who'd have thought that 40 years on, we'd still be talking about The Rolling Stones

in the present tense.


By Brian Wise

Nostalgia is a marvellous thing. Through its prism events can appear much better than they actually were and, given the filter of time, they can become increasingly so over the years. We also attach immense importance to things that happened to us in what seemed to be our relatively carefree youth or childhood.

Of course, music meant something different back in the ‘60s. It was much more a central part of our lives. There just weren't the distractions that are available now. There wasn't a flood of releases of every week; great records stood out immediately. You invested in an album and you flogged it and even if it wasn't great you would find something praiseworthy.

Until the late 60's you were either a Stones fan or a Beatles fan and then it all merged. Your parents loved The Beatles because they were cute and they didn't have the blues edge of the Stones, who also looked much more threatening. So you followed the Stones. Who wanted to follow a group your parents liked?

The Rolling Stones were the first band that I ever saw in concert. Not a bad start. That was in 1966 at The Palais, St Kilda. I was a callow schoolboy, only allowed to go because a much older friend from the local cricket club got tickets and drove us in his Fiat 500.

If I had to point to one event that changed the course of my life that would be it (though I still cannot understand why I was allowed to see the Stones but shortly afterwards forbidden from seeing Dylan). Academic results dived in inverse proportion to my interest in music. My prospective career as a rocket scientist and possible Nobel Prize winner was at an end.

Yet, even allowing for the distortion of the nostalgia lens, most people who saw the Rolling Stones in Kooyong in 1973 agree with me that it is the best rock ‘n' roll concert they have ever seen. That certainly has not changed for me - but there were lots of reasons to feel that way about it at the time.

Exile On Main Street had been out about 10 months when the Stones toured. We were at university, the music obsession was still there and became one of the first albums my friends and I imported from the USA. A bank cheque mailed away to Los Angeles, a few weeks of waiting and a pick up at the customs office at airport. Even then we still had it much earlier than its local release.

A few months later we lined up overnight outside the MSD in Bourke Street, Melbourne, to buy tickets for the Kooyong shows. I think the ticket price was $5 and we could only afford one show. We celebrated with breakfast at the Pancake Parlour over the road (I think it is still there).

We arrived for the first Stones show on the scorching afternoon of Saturday February 17, piled into in my friend's Triumph British racing green TR4. He was in love with both the car and the girl with us. (The car later broke his heart and then later he broke hers).

The excitement was palpable. Since the band had last toured here they had transformed their sound and adapted it, via some big chugging riffs, for stadium and arena shows.

I remember Madderlake playing at the side of the arena as we walked in and how much I disliked ‘12lb Toothbrush.' It was agonising. (Sorry). I also recall how the PA kept playing Lou Reed's Transformer album and ‘Walk On The Wild Side' over and over - a song that felt so daring at the time. Then there was the seemingly endless wait for the Stones to appear under the beating sun.

When the band did finally hit the Kooyong stage they were at their peak. Mick Taylor's guitar playing sounded awesome. (Three years later in London I saw them after Taylor had been replaced by Ronnie Wood and it was definitely not the same band. Nowhere near as good).

The Kooyong set list was mainly taken from the band's two most recent albums at the time - Exile and Sticky Fingers - and you would have to say it was one of the best set lists of all time. Somewhere I still have the ticket with tracks written on it. [Set list: Brown Sugar / Bitch/Rocks Off / Gimme Shelter / Happy / Tumbling Dice / Love In Vain / Sweet Virginia / You Can't Always Get What You Want / All Down The Line / Midnight Rambler / Band introduction / Bye Bye Johnny / Jumping Jack Flash / Street Fighting Man]

The show was thrilling. Brilliant. Imagine the buzz from the best show you have ever seen then multiply it by ten. That is how it felt. Years ago this was confirmed to me when someone sent me a film of the concert transferred to VHS with the Perth soundtrack dubbed in. (That's a bootleg you must have!).

Afterwards, we drove into the Clyde Hotel in Carlton for a post-mortem drink or six. Legendary (even then) DJ Stan Rofe, who we knew and who lived over the road, strolled in and said he had tickets for the evening show and would we like to go? I think so. We piled into the TR5 again and sped back out to Kooyong for the second greatest show I have ever seen!

Forgotten pictures reveal Kooyong's ‘73 Rolling Stone-Age - October 2019

Rare and unseen photographs have emerged from the Rolling Stones' 1973 gig at Kooyong in Melbourne.

The images are now on show at Lamaro's Hotel in South Melbourne and feature Mick Jagger in a jumpsuit with a red sash and drummer Charlie Watts using an umbrella for relief from the unrelenting summer sun.

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Kooyong Stadium | Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club489 Glenferrie Road, Kooyong , , 3144
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