Maaaaaan, The Stones! Not exactly a gig, is it – more a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like climbing Everest or running off with your next door neighbour’s wife.
Because The Stones (The Stones!) are so FUCKING rock’n'roll that they can be over 60, they can be playing Twickenham and they can live permanently outside the UK because they’d have to pay too much tax otherwise, and still be more FUCKING rock’n'roll than a supergroup consisting of Josh Homme, Karen O, Julian Casablancas‘s jeans and Jack White‘s filthiest secret thoughts. Keith Richards is that rock’n'roll on this own, before you even bother to think about anything else. He’s older and uglier than your granddad, and he’s still the most rock’n'roll man in the world.
Without The Stones, I literally would not be bothering you with my drunken rantings now, because more years ago than should be legal in a dance club called Fletchers in Worcester, my to-be-Dad asked my to-be-Mum to dance to a Stones tune called The Last Time (which, irritatingly, they don’t play tonight). Of course, my bloody father is sitting next to me tonight reminding me not only of this, but also of how he saw them in front of three people and a cat in 1923 in the Birmingham Dog & Duck. And yet somehow despite all of this it’s still one of the most rock’n'roll nights I’m going to have all year.
They know how to put on a show, and that’s half the game, isn’t it? Starting with a stunning rendition of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, they continue into It’s Only Rock’n'Roll But I Like It, before making us suffer through two off the new album (or something past 1973 anything – who cares?) then reward us with Tumblin’ Dice, BITCH! and You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Tonight, I don’t think we need to worry.
Then, because he’s still alive and he’s earned it, Mick hands centre stage over to Keef for Slidin’ Away and Before They Run. Fag in gob, fingers on the fretboard, we thank the god of coconut trees for not taking this man away from us.
Following this – as if the night hasn’t been good enough to us already – the catwalk platform we were expecting Mick to strut down turns out to be a … weird stage railway thing, on which the entire section of the stage including the drum riser and part of the roof comes forward to propel The Stones into the middle of the 150 quid seats and closer to the rest of us than they were before as the band belts out Miss You. Fantastic! The crowd goes wild for Start Me Up and then we get Sympathy For The Devil, Paint It Black and Brown Sugar before they retreat back to the stage proper to finish on a version of Satisfaction worth a million dollars. Maybe there were some others in there as well but… honestly, I was too busy dancing and singing along to be taking notes.
If there’s any criticism at all of the night (some people are never pleased!) it’s that the encore is a relatively Spartan one song: Honky Tonk Woman. But it’s a pretty good one song and amid fireworks and flame fountains, it lasts for about 15 minutes.
So, The Stones. Saw ‘em before I died. Memories like that have got to be worth something in the future.