sun 24/06/2018

The Rolling Stones, London Stadium review - only rock'n'roll? | reviews, news & interviews

The Rolling Stones, London Stadium review - only rock'n'roll?

The Rolling Stones, London Stadium review - only rock'n'roll?

Some say this could be the last time

Mick Jagger at the London Stadium: still lithe as a whippet

As the veteran combo roll around one more time, five years after they last performed in the UK, many a ticket-buyer for their No Filter tour has taken the view that, as the Stones once sang, this could be the last time. They didn’t play that one, perhaps not wishing to give fate the opportunity for a free hit, but they did take us on a trip through a decent chunk of their best-loved songs, and made room for a few surprises.

While the likes of “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction” sounded strangely messy and unfocused, some of the less obvious choices paid major dividends. For instance “Under My Thumb” was galvanised by the addition of a pumping Motown beat. The lilting “Fool to Cry” was sweet and soulful, sung by the often facetious Mick Jagger with touching sincerity. “Ride ‘em on Down”, from the recent-ish Blue & Lonesome album, was a chunk of raw bluesy swagger, the band playing it tough and sinewy while Jagger’s vocal peeled away the decades and flashed us back to their formative days at the Marquee or the Crawdaddy Club. “We used to play blues not far from here at Dalston Baths,” Jagger remarked, seeming to relish being back on the London turf that first nurtured them.He couldn’t resist a crack about Harry’s wedding. “We had a street party on Saturday. Charlie was on the tea urn and Ronnie sang some of his gypsy songs… We were going to get Bono and the American bishop to say a few words, but we decided not to.”

Jagger remains an age-defying marvel, at 74 still lithe as a whippet and shimmering like a snake charmer, sprinting up and down a long gangway out into the crowd energetically enough to shame singers a third of his age. He certainly put support act Liam Gallagher in the shade, since Liam does little except stomp menacingly around his microphone stand as though looking for something to kick, perhaps a football or somebody’s head. We’ll give him a break though, because at least he sang Oasis’s definitive anthem “Rock’n’Roll Star”, and dedicated “Live Forever” to Manchester.

For better or worse, richer or poorer, there’s no Mick without Keith Richards (pictured above and below), though these days Keith prefers to take it a little easier. He has boiled his performance down to that of benign old godfather, watching the antics of his band with a tolerant eye while he lazily chops out some distinctively Keef-ish chords – the intro to a gloriously blowsy “Tumbling Dice” for example, or the eerie filigree pattern of “Gimme Shelter” (accompanied here by giant screen images of leaping flames and Grosvenor Square riots). His Chuck Berry-esque licks added a distinctive tang to “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll”, and he added some bluesy twists to his rough-hewn solo performance on “Slipping Away”.

The Stones don’t really have a lead guitarist, but it was Ronnie Wood who played most of the solo parts, sometimes joining Jagger for a theatrical scamper down the gangplank while he tormented his fretboard. The Stones sound emerged at its most authentic, though, when the two guitarists meshed together, as in a powerful “Street Fighting Man”, “Honky Tonk Women” or “Paint It Black”, Wood adding a quasi-sitar tone to the latter.

Of course, they had help from their elite squad of backing musicians. Chuck Leavell unleashed some show-stopping interludes of honky-tonk piano (not least on “Honky Tonk Women”), bassist Darryl Jones was given space to show off some fancy funk finger-work in “Miss You”, and mega-soulful vocalist Sasha Allen had a full-on duet with Jagger in ”Gimme Shelter”. Yet fine as all this was, it was drummer Charlie Watts who bolted the whole lot together with his unswervingly rock-solid beat. It’s amazing how this fragile, white-haired figure delivers so much concentrated wallop with apparently so little effort, but the essence of the band depends on him as much as anybody. To say we’ll never see their like again is a dog-eared old cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

To say we’ll never see their like again is a dog-eared old cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

Spot on review Adam, completely summed up what I felt abut the show. I came away marvelling about Charlie Watts. His drumming is so distinctive and deceptively simple. Absolutely essential to the sound of the Stones... and he looks as though he's doing a crossword puzzle, not locking down a monster beat. AND he's nearly 77, as extraordinary in his way as Jagger...

Acoustics were terrible in the Stadium and towards the back totally out of sync with screen footage on stage. One of the worst gigs for quality of sound have ever been to and would think twice before going to Stadium ever again. Impossible to understand what Mick or anyone was saying at any point between songs because of the echo.Very disappointed.

You'd think with today's sound technology that just shouldn't happen. Really bad, especially at these ticket prices. Fans deserve better!

Of course, it should not happen but it is not easy especially when the municipality imposes acoustic limits. The acoustics in a stadium is not easy to manage, many people say they have excellent acoustics, most likely due to the limits of sound levels some sectors have not had good coverage.

I was standing about 30 feet from the stage and left early because I couldn't see anything, even the tops of their heads. If I want to look at a band on a screen I can stay at home and do that on Youtube. I thought it was an appalling venue, and would never go there again. The trudge back to the station through what seemed miles of wilderness was endless. I've never been so glad to see Westfield, which felt like coming back to civilisation. I also missed Liam who I wanted to see, as no proper band times were posted. I got in fairly quickly, apparently because I was standing, but there was a massive long queue to get in for people who were presumably sitting - who would also have missed the support. The music was fine, though I'd have liked more 60's.

The acoustics for Liam were even worse than for the Stones. Execrable. My first and last visit to that venue, too. Where I was sitting everything echoed and we had no idea what Mick was saying between songs. Through the distorted loud tinny mush, though, it was clear that there were some outstanding moments, notably Paint It Black and Gimme Shelter.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters