Rolling Stones London Stadium 22nd May 2018
As a 25 year old, I was quite astounded when Sir Mick told me how he and the boys started “at the Marque Club in 1962”. That’s 56 years ago. My lifetime,doubled, and then some.
And it really was an evening of numbers. 6 decades of shows, 300 birthdays, 2 hours of hits, and 65000 fans, whose age gap was as large as the bands repertoire. They really are, in the words of Liam Gallagher (The Stones’ very well received support act), the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Starting early, they jumped straight into “Street Fighting Man” and within seconds, everything seemed so familiar. Every movement, mannerism and sound from each individual synonymous with popular music history.
15 songs later, the show really built to a crescendo. The final sprint of “Start Me Up”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”, before an encore of “Gimme Shelter” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was live music at its very best.
As a guitarist, did I worry if the boys could still play? Of course. However, not only did Keith’s bluesy noodling soon put me at ease, but something else became clear. The sheer gravitas of the band I was lucky enough to be stood in front of would outweigh any technical difficulties these 70 year olds now face.
They had a great contingency plan too. Flanked with talented session musicians, led by Chuck Leavell (The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, John Mayer), The Stones could relax and enjoy themselves, and it showed in their performance. Special mention to Sasha Alan who sang the legendary top line in “Gimme Shelter” perfectly.
One thing that needed no back up was Sir Mick Jagger’s showmanship. It was a full course of dancing, clapping, “YEH”-ing and hosting. The original and ultimate frontman.
With Gibson going bankrupt last week, and the absence of guitars in the charts, it’s easy to hop on the “guitar is dead” train. However last night fills me with confidence. At every turn you saw air guitars from young and old, teenage girls with Keith Richards lighting up their iPhone backgrounds, and Ronnie’s guitar solos awarded the loudest cheer. It may only be Rock ’n’ Roll, but a lot of people still like it.
THE MOMENT: DEFINITELY MAYBE
LGA pupil Kyran walks us through Great Guitar UK Guitar Albums kicking off with the supersonic first album by Oasis Definitely Maybe.
Oasis Definitely Maybe
There are moments for every music lover where a certain album or song changes the course of your life, whether it is discovering the Beatles from your grandparents, or the moment after an adolescent heartbreak you hear Morrissey groan “Please, please let me get what I want” and it all begins to make sense.
Whatever your moment is, it is at that point we decide how we will dress, speak and act. There are of course can be more than one. My first ‘moment’ was falling in love with Definitely Maybe.
Specifically the first time I heard Live Forever. I remember watching the music video: The 16 bar drum intro comes in as the camera focused on Liam Gallagher, sat on a chair suspended high on a wall, my imagination was captured. The video ends with Noel Gallagher burying soon to be ex drummer Tony McCarroll in a garden. I had two thoughts; I need to learn how to play guitar and get myself an Adidas Firebird jacket (I still have the one I bought of EBay at the age of 13).
The album is a fantastic bit of work that fully embodies what it means to be youthful, optimistic and truly captures that energy. Definitely Maybe wears its influences very much on its sleeve, the melodic chord structures of every song allude to a songwriter in Noel Gallagher who clearly worshipped at the alter of The Beatles, hints of The Stooges and Sex Pistols guitar sound run through tracks like Bring it on Down and Rock n Roll Star and even tracks like Shakermaker or up in the Sky would not have been out of place on a Kinks album circa the Village Green era or a psychedelic 60’s compilation.
The production behind the album is unique, according to producer Owen Morris; he was the first person to pioneer a method of mixing called “Brick walling”. This method involves the use of a box causing sound compression of the initial track (it causes the hiss at the beginning of Cigarettes and Alcohol) and is then mixed to be on the red line on the mixing desk. Morris is very adamant about the effect this had “ that first year in jukeboxes around the country Oasis came on louder than anyone else”.
The recording of the album was not smooth sailing, twice the album was scraped, the first version was recorded in Mono Valley, Wales and the second attempt saw Noel Gallagher and sound engineer Mark Coyle try to mix and produce the record. The issues surrounding the record were primarily to do with the sound and the initial sessions didn’t capture the energy and sound that make up the Oasis sound. The best example is the early recording of Slide Away (It can be found on YouTube), while beautiful it doesn’t quite carry the energy that the final album mix would.
I could go on and on about this album but finally I want to point at how special the album is lyrically. Live Forever contains my favourite lyric on any song “we’ll see things they’ll never see”. This lyric perfectly summarises a special relationship. Even on a song like ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ which lyrically overall isn’t fantastic, it still includes a fantastic line “These could be the best days of our lives”.
The album will always hold a special place in British music for many people but for many like me, it is “the moment”, whatever your moment or moments, they are incredibly special. Whether you agree with my choice, no doubt you will be able to identify with a similar album that made you fall in love with music.