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.