Stones leap into computer age with live Internet link

Internet users will be able to play an active part in The Rolling Stones' new world tour by voting for a song via their PCs. But David Lister says that Jagger and co's plan to interrupt their opening concert to play their fans' most popular request could prove embarrassing.
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The Rolling Stones are planning to stage the world's first interactive stadium rock concert when they begin their world tour in Chicago tomorrow.

Internet users will be able to vote on which Stones song they most wish to hear. And in the middle of the show at the Soldier Field Stadium, a screen will flash up the five most popular songs.

The decision by the band to involve their fans on the Internet could mean an embarrassing situation for them.

Two of their big hits are no longer played by the band. Sixties singles "The Last Time" and "Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown" are no longer performed by the band, according to insiders, because of the inevitable jokes that will be made about Mick Jagger singing the words.

Tomorrow, however, fans will use their personal computers to influence the band's choice of one song. The Stones will perform the song that comes out top, and the performance will be broadcast live on the Internet.

With a back catalogue stretching over 33 years, this could mean the band either having to show remarkable powers of memory, or rehearsing hundreds of songs. They are, according to insiders, hedging their bets. They have rehearsed more than 60 songs and hope that fans will either choose a song from one of their recent albums or a well- known hit that they can improvise without rehearsal. Mischief makers on the Internet who club together to vote for a long-forgotten B-side from the early Sixties could thus cause Jagger and the band an awkward moment.

It is probably no coincidence that the tour is sponsored by Sprint, an American communications company, which is also keen to see computer involvement.

Ninety per cent of tickets for the American leg of their world tour have been sold, with 10 of the 13 dates sold out. The tour arrives in Britain next summer, when the interactive spot is also expected to form part of the concert. No venue has been announced, but Jagger is keen to hold a music festival at Brands Hatch, the racing circuit in Kent never before used for a rock concert.

This is the first attempt to involve computer users with a major rock tour. It is inevitable that if the project is a success, other stars will copy it, and a computer request section will be a staple of the stadium gig.