In a more than 50 year career, the mighty Rolling Stones have had more than their fair share of peaks. But which of their live shows reigns supreme as their most iconic? Here are their 10 most notorious gigs…
10 Altamont Speedway, California
‘Iconic’ need not necessarily always be a positive thing and, sadly, one of the Stones’ most well-known shows was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Things got off to a bad start when Mick Jagger was punched by a fan seconds after arriving onsite, and became tragic when a fan was stabbed after pulling out a revolver. The hippy dream was truly dead.
9 Waldbühne, Berlin
Another catastrophe that’s slowly been co-opted into Stones legend. Held in the city’s old Olympic grounds, it saw the band leave the stage after just 25 minutes, leading to en masse riots from the crowd causing almost £100,000 of damage. Writing at the time, one journalist simply said of the gig: “I know hell”. Not a day that any punter is likely to forget.
8 Perth Arena, Perth
As part of a postponed Australian tour, The Stones’ first Perth gig in more than 20 years came with justifiable level of excitement. All 13,ooo-plus tickets sold out months in advance, while a solid gold ‘moment’ occurred when the band were joined by ex-guitarist Mick Taylor on ‘Midnight Rambler’.
7 Hampton Coliseum, Virginia
The penultimate show of the band’s drug-riddled ‘Tattoo You’ tour saw tensions running high. Following the tragic assassination of John Lennon, Keith Richards was found to also be on killer Mark Chapman’s hit list. So when a fan broke onto the stage and ran straight for Keef, what was his reaction? “Chop the fucker down” with his guitar of course, as he later described the ninja move.
6 Madison Square Garden, New York
Shortly after an incident where a Canadian fan planted a bomb in their gear, Mick and the boys rocked up to New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden for a three-night stint. The last night of the run also happened to be the singer’s 29th birthday and, to celebrate, he was presented with a cake and a cuddly panda before having a pie fight with the audience. Oh you kerazy kids.
5 Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
The final date of a 10-night residency at the venue was recorded for the Stones At The Max concert video and became an iconic release for two reasons. Firstly, the show was the first gig to be filmed in IMAX format, but mainly, it featured bassist Bill Wyman’s last properly documented performance in the band. Shortly after the tour, Wyman left the group for good.
4 Brixton Academy, London
Having long-established themselves as a stadium band, in 1995 The Stones decided to scale things down and give the fans a little treat. Cue this tiny (by their standards) show at London’s 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy. Joe Strummer and The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde were among those in attendance, while it’s fair to say that the other 4,998 people there probably had a not-too-shabby time too.
3 Glastonbury, England
Inarguably the most high profile Glastonbury set of this century, The Rolling Stones’ 2013 appearance was so huge the Eavis’ had to extend the Pyramid Stage field to accommodate everyone. On Saturday night, it felt like literally the entire festival had turned out to see the legends and, as a mechanical phoenix spat fire from the Pyramid’s peak, the set was cemented as a mighty triumph.
2 Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
As part of the band’s ‘A Bigger Bang Tour’, they rocked up to Rio to play a free show ahead of the country’s famous carnival. One million people turned up on the day, while the gig was also streamed across US radio and on 150 cinema screens. The numbers speak for themselves.
1 The Stones in the Park: Hyde Park, London
The band’s free Hyde Park event turned from goodwill-laced triumph to tragedy when former member Brian Jones passed away just two days before the gig. Going on with the show, however, The Rolling Stones took the huge crowd (estimated at between 250,000 and 500,000) and united them in a heartfelt gesture towards the late star. Mick Jagger read Percy Shelly’s ‘Adonais’ and released hundreds of white butterflies as fans who had lit thousands of candles looked on. A poignant and touching tribute.