It's Only Rock'n Roll
The set list
The Kooks : 7:25pm - 8:05pm The Rolling Stones : 9:00pm - 10:50pm
Call it a perfect gig! Home turf, great arena and superb crowd. Mick on top form ... simply brilliant. It was his night. He said more then once that home crowd is the worst to please. Well, tonight we were more then pleased and so was Mick. It was just great. Keith singing You Got The Silver and two of his daughters signing along with dad infront of the stage ... touching. Keef was great too and so was Ronnie some great guitar playing from both of them. Charlie even did a little solo ... well not quite but nice touch. They were all happy to be back home and to find that they have been missed made a great gig. I saw The Stones from the 'best seat in the house' many times, but that was when I was working. Tonight, after first couple of songs, I went to watch the show ... from the fifth row, right in the middle ... unforgettable ... is that close or what. Looking forward to see the last gig on Sunday. It will be two years and a day since they kicked off from Boston. I was there at the beginning and will be at the end. Well, end this time around to be precise. Here are a couple of shots I took tonight, the rest you can see at
“We’ve never played this part of the river. It took us forty years to get from Richmond to Greenwich” said Mick Jagger as the Rolling Stones performed the first of three shows at the O2 Arena, located in the London suburb that is amazingly home to zero longitude and Greenwich Mean Time. The town’s first Stones show was a fine addition to Greenwich’s claims to fame, as the band once again kept the setlist and playing interesting and fresh. Having last seen the Stones in Atlantic City nine months ago, I had to wonder how they could still be pulling this off: not the often discussed age issue, but how could a show still be interesting a year after Twickenham and two years after opening night in Boston without any new material. As with the Licks tour where Don’t Stop was the only song that kept them from arguably being a Vegas act, I was quickly reminded that the spontaneity and inspired sloppiness of the band continues to be fascinating
You Got Me Rocking was an excellent example of this, with Keith’s solo sounding familiar, but note for note still completely unique like a DNA sample. Rough Justice still is a treat as a “new” song, two years old, but 40 years younger than Satisfaction. To put Rough Justice in perspective, tonight’s excellent opening act The Kooks would in the same time frame follow up their hit Naïve with a song they’ll write in 2046! The real fun began with Rocks Off, where Mick thought the song was ending and the band continued cranking on. Did Mick end early? Did the band play longer? The precise answer is not really relevant, as to witness that on stage has all the excitement of watching a great race driver swerve on the edge of controllability and nicely recover to keep speeding on. Yes, I’ve seen this for the past two years, and I wish I can see this even more. Deride the old songs as “Warhorses”, claim it is all predictable, but the moment-to-moment changes seen during a Stones performance are more exciting and entertaining than anything you will see on any other stage.
Beast of Burden started out almost unrecognizable, but Keith pounded the rhythm into shape where the whole band was soon in synch. It was a beautiful version with a great Ron Wood solo, Mick bellowing “NEVER!” like the old blues singer that he is, and Keith ending the song with one more distinctive chord, the same one that begins the song. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking was interesting with singer Bernard Fowler playing keyboards throughout, and Keith during Mick’s harmonica feature, leaning on the stage left railing near the back up singers, sparsely playing while clearly enjoying Mick’s performance as much as anyone else in the arena. I was very psyched to see I’ll Go Crazy, the James Brown song that the Stones have been doing on this European tour. The song was fun, and provided a good showcase for Lisa Fischer and her vocals, allowing her and Mick to clown around. I know we’ll probably see this song two more times this week, and that gets me longing for the variety of two years ago when this slot in the set could be filled by an homage to Ray Charles, Bob Marley, or Otis Redding.
Keith was especially on for his set, doing an excellent job with vocals only for You Got the Silver, while Ron Wood played beautiful guitar. During the song Keith put his hand on Ronnie’s shoulder, a gesture of trust that Keith’s song was in good shape instrumentally, in Ronnie’ hands. I Wanna Hold You with its thundering brass section seemed downright nostalgic, hearkening back to the early days of the Babylon tour when wearing leopard print was still cool and a new Keith thing.
After Keith, we had the stage roll out into the arena with It’s Only Rock and Roll being played, not as smooth and lacking the groove that Miss You and Under My Thumb have as stage roll out songs. As the stage traveled it was awesome to see Charlie up close, his playing phenomenal and his white crew neck T-shirt and red socks equally as sharp as his drumming. As is typical with any excellent Stones show, it all ended too quickly, even knowing the set would be 19 songs compared to 22 songs at Fenway two years ago. It is comforting to know that Greenwich, its zero longitude, and all the Stones fans who worked hard enough to be in London this week still have much to look forward to with two more shows.
A very, very enjoyable show.
Up in the nosebleeds (block 414), the atmosphere was electric, and the accoustics were terrific... and i can promise you, i was not expecting myself, to be able to say that.
My previous 'nosebleed' experience, in Cardiff, last year, was a miserable, almost insufferable affair, but i'm happy to report, to all of you, with 'cheap seats' for the forthcoming shows, on thursday and sunday, that you will get a great view and great sound.
Beast Of Burden and Let It Bleed, were 2 outstanding highlights, and to look over my left shoulder , and see 2 youngsters singing along to every word, was a joy.
I can safely say, i got my £80 pounds worth, last night, and to be able to say that, is a lovely, sweet suprise.
Keith was better than in Barcelona (and i thought he was good there) and he nailed every intro. It was a delight to see how happy he looked after his excellent intro to Paint it Black-raising his arm in the air as if to say 'see, I CAN still do it!'.
Rocks Off was great and, as another reviewer said, Mick believed the song had finshed but the band kept playing on.
Ronnie is playing incredibly well. I have only seen Midnight Rambler on this tour, so it was a treat to hear CYHMK-phew, what a solo!
I also liked the way they carry straight into Tumbling Dice from I'll Go Crazy-a nice touch.
The closing 'warhorses' were as good as ever. In particular, I though JJF was excellent- this was the Keith of old- menacing his guitar and a couple of leg kicks.
I thought the crowd were great. Although I was sat next to some idiot who, during You Got the Silver (another Keith highlight) asked me 'which one is Mick?' - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!
It was also nice to put some faces to the names on this board in the Pilot Inn before the show. I also bumped into BV just before entering the arena.
Roll on the 26th!!
First, a little about the venue. It was my first visit to the O2 Arena, although two weeks earlier I had seen Dr. John at the smaller more intimate Indigo2 concert hall which is in the same complex. That is a superb, modern, hi-tech theatre with perfect sightlines and sound. The Arena too is excellent. A vast auditorium with very good facilities. For those people going to the last two shows, some advice. Don't worry about the restaurants and bars in the outer complex being packed with an hour to wait. The bars and fast food joints in the Arena hall are all fine with few queues and lots of space to chat. The seats are great in the hall with lots of leg room and each row of seats around the sides is elevated more than usual above the row in front. Our view was perfect as was the sound, although we were lucky, sitting at the side of the stage.
As Keith would say - On with the show.
The show was fantastic without a dip. Keith's solo on You got me rocking - second track in-was sharp and faultless and at the end of the song Mick nodded what must have been a compliment to him. Then another Keith lead intro on Rough Justice which was great. The whole band seemed to be enjoying themselves and they all just laughed off the fact that they seemed to have forgotten how to end Rocks off. Mick just said "That seemed to go on for ages" Beast of Burden is one of my all time favourites and was fantastic. Then one of the nights' peaks. A full-on Can't you Hear me Knocking with fantastic solos from Mick, Bobby Keys and with the audience screaming his name, Ronnie, standing alone at the front of the stage, playing great and lapping up the spotlight. Great stuff!
Keith's spot is often time for some people to head to refill their glasses. Anyone who did would have missed a wonderful version of You got the Silver, with him standing and singing, guitar-less at the mike with Ronnie playing beautifully alongside. The American lady sitting next to me who follows them everywhere had never heard Keith play that live and it bought a tear to her eye.
What a spectacle as the band grouped close to Charlie's drum kit as Keith intro'd IORR and they set off on the moving stage towards the rear of the stadium. A fantastic sight and a great version of Respectable when they were down there. On towards the closing songs and all of the classics were sounding fresh and powerful. Throughout the show Mick's singing was as strong as ever.
During the show Mick told the audience that it was two years to the day since The Bigger Bang tour had kicked off in Boston and that they had never expected it to last so long. He also said that it had taken them forty years to get from Richmond to Greenwich. When I saw them on the Forty Licks tour, I felt then that they were enjoying themselves too much to stop. They proved me right by coming back so quickly with the BB album and tour. Looking at them last night, playing out of their skins and clearly having a great time, my thoughts are the same. If their health holds, we will be seeing them again I'm sure.
For me, even at £150 a ticket, it still felt a privilege to be there and listen to a band who are still ahead of everyone else when it comes to delivering the goods! I'm pleased once again to have had my daughters with me and to see them dancing and singing throughout. This is too good not to pass on to the next generation.
In front of me and close to the stage, a guy with a microphone sticking out of a bag on his lap! How he got that gear through security when even my small camera was examined is beyond me. Clearly though the bootlegs will be appearing soon. Judging by the sound last night, the quality at least should be great. And finally a message to the Rolling Stones. Thank you! See you next time! It's only rock 'n roll!
From the moment we went in we were treated to the band warming up to Angie, and the very nice lady steward kept opening the door for us to catch a glimpse of the boys warming up. Who cares if they don't play new tracks on a gig, not me, and judging from the majority of the crowd not many of them. The back catalogue of classics is enough to keep even the most staunch Stones fan happy, and they a reeled off with perfection by the band. Mick was on top form tonight, and warmed to to home fans from the off. From the opening riffs of Start Me Up you could tell it was going to be a good gig. You got me rocking had everyone bouncing, and Keith and Ronnie were obviously having a good time by now, as the guitar playing was perfect. It was great to hear Can't You here Me Knocking, and the James Brown tribute I'll Go Crazy had Mick and co belting out another classic. Keith and Ronnie were amazing during Keith's solo section. On You Got The Silver he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and Ronnie's guitar work was impeccable. The move to the B-stage during IORR was as smooth as ever, and to get as close to the band as we were was a heart stopping moment. It seemed Mick and the boys were connecting with the people all around them, and it was a shame we were only this close for four songs. Satisfaction was awesome.
Back to the main stage with Honky Tonk, and then into Sympathy For The Devil, again it had the crowd bouncing. The end of the show was with the classics Paint It Black was some of Keith's best guitar work on the night. JJF was as usual amazing with 8 count them eight 'yeah yeah yeah woos' pure gold. To end with Brown Sugar with its usual grace and style. An awesome homecoming. It was a great night in a surprisingly great venue. The acoustics's in this place are great and young and old alike loved every minute. Down side of the venue is not enough merchandise stores, only one big one downstairs, and the service was slow and appalling, but that is venue and not bands fault as they were,as usual, the greatest rock and rolls band in the world.
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Photos by IORR.
Additional photos by Brian Rasic, Jim Pietryga, Robbie Burden and John Banks.
News links by Axel Schumacher and Simon Ward.