The UK Standard - A lot has changed. The first time Mick and Keith played Hyde Park, in 1969, it was just two days after Brian Jones had become the first of the gang to die: his passing marked by Jagger’s reading of Shelley’s Adonais, followed by the release of several hundred white butterflies into the crowd. On Saturday night, it was the dearly departed Charlie Watts’ turn to be eulogised in more modern fashion. Prior to his bandmates’ arrival onstage, the giant screens displayed a montage of his smiling face through the ages.
Then, though, it was very much the Rolling Stones taking care of business as usual. As he strode out to the front of the stage and fired up Street Fighting Man, Keith Richards still wore the evil grin of the cat who invented the concept of getting the cream. A similarly ecstatic-looking Ronnie Wood followed, before Jagger darted past the pair of them, post heart surgery, post bout of Covid, dancing like… well, frankly it’s now getting a bit boring noting how astonishing it is for a man of his age – 79 next month – to put in such a high-energy performance for over two hours. But it does remain utterly astonishing.
From there on in, this was a joyous, euphoric carnival of rock‘n’roll majesty. 2020’s lockdown-inspired Living in a Ghost Town aside, every song played, bar the Keith-sung Slipping Away (from 1989’s Steel Wheels), was over 40 years old. But no one – not the band, certainly not the audience – would have had it any other way. Relative obscurities were dusted off in the shape of the flower powered She’s A Rainbow,
(my personal favorite Stones song)
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?’s filthy, freeform blues
and a string-laden Out Of Time: the latter given the new lease of life you would expect a song to get once it has soundtracked Brad Pitt swaggering through a Tarantino movie in white denim and sunglasses.
That trio aside, it was icons only. Brown Sugar has been quietly retired – Google its working title to get an idea as to why – but You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Honky Tonk Women, Miss You, Paint It Black, Start Me Up and Gimme Shelter were all present and way beyond correct. Midnight Rambler was strung out to 10 minutes of dramatic pauses and entwining guitar riffs, and even then felt too short.
An encore of Sympathy For The Devil and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction took Hyde Park even higher. Many in the departing masses wondered aloud whether this would be the last time we would get to see the Rolling Stones. Unlikely, I would say. On this evidence, I wouldn’t be surprised if my grandchildren’s grandchildren get the chance too.
Excuse me as I wade into Rear Ad's territory here, (he's the biggest and best Stones fan I've ever met), but he's probably too busy drinking Pink Whitney out of the Cup with Joe Sakic right now. And this show looked (and sounded) like it was the greatest concert of all time and deserves a blog.
I mean look at that set list at the top.
And that encore.
The weather was fucking perfect.
The biggest living movie star in the world, Tom Cruise, was there taking it all in -
And these rock Gods are still somehow putting on epic performances despite being 78 (Jagger and Richards), and 74 (Wood).
The most famous 70 year old in America can't ride a bike, and meanwhile you've got these dinosaurs selling out stadiums and melting people's faces off way past their bedtime.
I know there's a legit contingent of people out there who believe the elite's drink baby's blood like vampires to stay alive forever but are we positive that's just a conspiracy theory? How can you explain The Rolling Stones doing what they've been doing for 59 years??? Think about that. 59 years of life on the road. Shit food. Shit sleep. Women everywhere. Drugs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And constant adrenaline ride rollercoasters up and down. How can these men not be vampires?
p.s. - I went and saw the Stones for the first time in 2019 (I know, sad) after missing them it seemed like every time they came through Chicago or Boston the previous 10 years. I knew the clock was ticking on getting to see the full band, alive, and performing together so I got tickets on the field, cancelled gigs, and rounded up some friends. Even past their prime, I was floored at how amazing they were live. Mick Jagger can't be human. The guy moved around better than people I know in their 30s. He was all over the place. Keith Richards could somehow still shred like a maniac, and even for what must have been his 10,000th live show, he still looked like he was having the time of his life up on there on stage. Granted, Charlie Watts looked like he was comatose, staring off straight into the distance the entire night, playing drums looking like he was on puppet strings, but the band still sounded incredible. I was equal parts grateful I got to see them in the flesh, together, and equal parts disappointed I hadn't seen them 20 years ago when they were even tighter sounding.