It’d happen in the basement of Nellcôte while a wild cocaine and Mars Bar orgy ran rampant upstairs. Keef would be at his most elegantly wasted, Mick would take the stage in an ermine robe and crown of thorns and Ronnie Wood would be in charge of hiring the bar staff. The audience would be made up of today’s equivalent of the ‘Exile On Main Street’ hangers-on, fashionistas and ne’er-do-wells – Dave Eggers, Kate Moss, Bradley Wiggins, Dave Grohl, Bon Iver, Julian Assange, Frankie Boyle – and the set list would be nothing but stone cold classics bereft of tiresome obscurities and pretty much anything post-1976.
That’s my idea of the perfect Rolling Stones gig, and with only a few days to go until the ’50 and Counting’ tour kicks off in London, we can start imagining what it’ll be like. My evening would go a little bit like this.
The Stones likely wrote ‘Start Me Up’ specifically to open gigs with, so let’s not upset them this early on. But rather than getting your hopes up before several hours of bluesy noodling, it’d be a springboard into an opening slew of peacock-strutting hits – ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Under My Thumb’. Having hyped the crowd into a chateau-demolishing frenzy, they’d then hit the slowie section, ‘Wild Horses’ merging into ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ possibly linked with a brief chorus of ‘Fool To Cry’. Kleenex will have to send a truck.
A rousing chunk of psychedelia in the shape of ‘She’s A Rainbow’ would bleed into a section dedicated to The Stones’ scratchy early era as flagrant Beatles wannabes in the form of a medley of ‘It’s All Over Now’, ‘Time Is On My Side’ and ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’, preferably performed on orange-crate bass and washboards. Then a stirring ‘Ruby Tuesday’ sets us up for a rock-out race to the encore, gradually upping the strut-ometer towards overload on ‘Gimme Shelter’, which would rock the house so violently even Russell Brand would stop shagging Spice Girls upstairs to come down and see what was going on.
And the encore? A scintillaring, spot-lit ‘Angie’ and then all the bangers let off at once, like New Year’s Eve smashing headlong into an Olympics opening ceremony. We can but dream…
Start Me Up
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Honky Tonk Women
Under My Thumb
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
She’s A Rainbow
It’s All Over Now/Time Is On My Side/19th Nervous Breakdown (medley)
Street Fighting Man
Get Off Of My Cloud
Let’s Spend The Night Together
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Paint It, Black
Sympathy For The Devil
It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But I Like It)