The Rolling Stones last night (July 6) played the first of two huge gigs in London’s Hyde Park.
The band last played the central London space on July 5, 1969, at a huge, free headline concert. A montage of footage from that show played out on the big screens, which wrapped around the entire stage, before the band appeared at 8.30pm.
A tribal beat announced the arrival of the band before guitarist Keith Richards seemed to clunk out the opening chord of ‘Start Me Up’ in the wrong key. The problem was quickly rectified and the band launched straight into a winning ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’.
Jagger then addressed the 65,000-strong, sell-out crowd. “A big hi to London, England and Hyde Park!” he said. “Anyone here that was here in 1969?” he asked, to cheers from the crowd. “Well hi, it’s nice to see you again.”
After ‘Tumbling Dice’, Jagger commented on the stage they were playing on, which was flanked by two fake oak trees. “It’s like a cross between Wimbledon and a pantomime forest,” he said.
Next was the winning request song ‘All Down The Line’, voted for by fans of the band on Twitter, during which Jagger strutted down a large catwalk that extended well into the crowd, then ‘Beast Of Burden’ and 2012’s new song ‘Doom And Gloom’, which saw Jagger strap on a guitar for the first time.
Texan guitarist Gary Clark Jr, who had earlier played a support slot, joined the band for the bluesy ‘Bitch’. “This time of year in England is the best place to be,” said Jagger afterwards. “Let’s hope we blow like sweet roses in the summer air…”
The imagery on the screens went monochrome for a pounding ‘Paint It, Black’. In the pause between that and a well-received ‘Honky Tonk Women’, Jagger put on a bright white jacket, cinched at the waist – just like the one he wore in 1969. “Just a little something I found in the back there,” he said.
Jagger then introduced the band, which included backing singer Lisa Fischer and sax player Bobby Keys. Jagger introduced drummer Charlie Watts as “the Wembley wham-a-roo,” and guitarists Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards were both interrupted having a half-time cigarette. Richards then took vocals for ‘You Got The Silver’ and ‘Before They Make Me Run’.
Disco track ‘Miss You’ followed, during which the screens showed images of butterflies, a possible nod to the live butterfly release at Hyde Park in honour of the recently deceased Brian Jones 44 years ago. Jones’ replacement, Mick Taylor, then joined the band for an extended, jammy ‘Midnight Rambler’. “His very first gig was Hyde Park,” said Jagger. “We just found him in the pub and put him on stage in front of 200,000 people. But it’s alright, he’s done it a few times since then.”
‘Gimme Shelter’ followed, with backing singer Lisa Fischer providing the wailing soul vocal, a part which last year went to guests including Mary J Blige and Florence Welch. After ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, images of fire appeared on the screen and flares ignited around the stage for’‘Sympathy For The Devil’, which saw most of the crowd whooping along. ‘Brown Sugar’ closed the main set.
The Voce Chamber Choir and London Youth Choir appeared on the empty stage to sing the choral introduction to ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, after which ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ ended the evening with flurries of red ticker tape.
The Rolling Stones’ performance took place at the opening weekend of Barclaycard British Summertime, a new, two-week festival in Hyde Park, which was opened by Bon Jovi on Friday (July 5). Earlier in the day, acts including Tribes and Palma Violets appeared in indoor, air conditioned stages at the festival, which has fake ‘streets’ including South American-style bars and English pubs.
The Vaccines played main support to The Rolling Stones, kicking off with ‘Blow It Up’ and ‘Teenage Icon’. Seeming to take the business of warming up the crowd seriously, Justin Young at one point asked, “Hyde Park, are you ready for The Rolling Stones? Well, thank fuck for that.” The band ended with ‘Nørgaard’.
Talking about the Stones in a tape shown between the bands, Justin Young said, “They’re the original and the best. Just to share a stage with them in our home town is unbelievable.”
The Rolling Stones played:
‘Start Me Up’
‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)’
‘All Down The Line’
‘Beast Of Burden’
‘Doom And Gloom’
‘Paint It, Black’
‘Honky Tonk Women’
‘You Got The Silver’
‘Before They Make Me Run’
‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’
‘Sympathy For The Devil’
‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
The Vaccines played:
‘Blow It Up’
‘Come Of Age’
‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’
‘If You Wanna’
‘I Always Knew’