Last night, I was one of the 20,000-or-so souls fortunate enough to experience the first Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary show, at the O2 Arena. You can read lots and lots about the extortionate ticket prices elsewhere (briefly: I agree, it sucks), and also lots and lots about how old they are now. I mean, this “with a combined age of…” business. Since when has the combined age of any group of people ever been a meaningful or useful statistic? Who knows ANY combined ages to compare this figure to? It’s just STUPID.
No, I am here to report back to you and tell you about the actual gig, and therefore to tell you that it was absolutely awesome. I’ve seen the Stones live several times before, and always found it entertaining, but often a bit panto, and far from musically rewarding. This was not either of those things. Yes, it was performed on a giant lips stage, and started with a tribe of drummers in gorilla masks parading around the arena, but this was largely The Rolling Stones stripped back: just the band on stage, nice and loose but locked in to each other, too.
And so, with the caveat for those going on Thursday that SPOILERS ARE ABOUT TO FOLLOW, here are the five bits that most blew me away about the show.
This followed a video during which everyone from Iggy to Elton to Angus Young to Nick Cave declared their love for the Stones, and Johnny Depp memorably said they make “songs which make you want to do bad things.” And then… bring on the gorillas!
The Merry Clayton backing vocal on the recorded version is a massive part of what makes this song so great. Mary J brought a similar magic last night. Just listen to this:
The return of the Stones’ original bass player for a couple of songs, and of Mick Taylor on guitar for ‘Midnight Rambler’ made this show eve more special. Here the former is doing his thing on ‘Honky Tonk Women’. Also, check out the volume of the crowd on the chorus.
4‘Paint It Black’
This one was my favourite song of the evening. Still sounds positively evil.
First time they’ve ever done it. And great it was too.