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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
THE ROLLING STONES, O2 ARENA, LONDON
'Grrr' is the name of the new compilation album featuring the very best of the Rolling Stones and celebrating 50 years of service to rock 'n roll and 'Grrr' was the reaction of some fans to the ticket prices when the Stones announced that they would be playing two special shows at O2 followed by just three more dates over the pond in the US.
Not only was this the most expensive ticket in town with prices ranging from £95 to £406 or even over a grand to be in the pit, but also this was the hottest gig in the capital since Led Zeppelin's reformation one off at this very venue five years earlier.
Just like the Zeppelin gig, fans had travelled from all over the world to witness these shows and you could feel the anticipation in the air was high for this historic occasion to see the most successful rock 'n roll band in the world play a rare indoor show and to paraphrase one of their song titles, this could be the last time.
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With no support band the show started off with a back screen relaying messages from some of the biggest names in rock as to why the Stones are the greatest with anecdotes from Iggy Pop, Dave Navarro, Elton John, Pete Townsend and Angus Young but it was film star Johnny Depp who summed it up the best by claiming: "Great songs to do bad things to."
As the lights dimmed around the sold out 20,000 seated arena, a mass of drummers wearing gorilla masks thundered away amongst the fans in the aisles making for a spectacular entrance for the Stones. Their faces are saggier than a British Bulldog but are full of fighting spirit for a band who are all each entitled to a free bus pass.
Mick Jagger in trilby hat is full of youthful swagger throughout the gig, running around and shaking his hips. A cover of the Beatles 'I Wanna Be Your Man', the first time played since their very beginnings starts off this mammoth set than runs on for over two hours. It's like watching history right in front of your very eyes, not only in terms of the music, but if feels as if you are witnessing the Rolling Stones providing the soundtrack to world history for this past half century.
Mick Jagger self mocks the tickets prices by asking: "Everybody alright up in the cheap seats?... although they're not cheap are they." He then goes on to state: "It's been a good year in Britain. We had the Olympics! We didn't do that. Jubilee? Didn't do that. James Bond 50th anniversary! We missed that, but we're so glad you're here, and so glad we are here", later saying: "It's taken us 50 years to get from Dartford to Greenwich and we've finally made it."
The monster classics 'Gimme Shelter' and 'Paint It Black come surprisingly early in the set with guest Mary J Blige singing her lungs out on 'Gimme Shelter' which soon turns into a drawn out jam between Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards who both seemed happy to be sharing the stage once again.
The band slowed down a bit for a delightful 'Wild Horses'. This wasn't just a greatest hits show though as 'All Down The Line' from 'Exile On Main Street' got a rare outing and later Keith Richards would sing the vocals on 'Before They Make Me Run' and 'Happy', another couple of album tracks. New songs 'One More Shot', performed for the very first time tonight and the single 'Doom And Gloom' went down well.
The ante was really raised when the Stones invited even more guests onto the stage. Guitar maestro Jeff Beck joined in on the old St Louis Jimmy Oden blues classic 'I'm Going Down'. Beck tore into his fret work leaving Jagger and the O2 gobsmacked.
Bill Wyman joined the band to perform with them for the first time since the 'Steel Wheels' tour of 1990 for 'It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It)' and the timeless 'Honky Tonk Woman' and Mick Taylor, not seen with the Stones since 1981, played some mean dirty blues on an extended 'Midnight Rambler'. Beck and Taylor were highlights for me this evening.
From then on it was jukebox classics all the way with even the London Youth choir angelically doing the intro to 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' which was rather apt as the band had run past their curfew meaning their was no time to perform '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'.
Even though Jagger didn't want to leave the stage everyone was more than satisfied. This show was worth every penny. The Rolling Stones are simply the Grrreatest!
I Wanna Be Your Man
It's All Over Now
Get Off My Cloud
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter (With Mary J.Blige)
All Down The Line
Going Down (With Jeff Beck)
Out Of Control
One More Shot
Doom And Gloom
It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) +
Honky Tonk Woman (Both with Bill Wyman)
Before They Make Me Run
Start Me Up
Sympathy For The Devil
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Jumping Jack Flash
You can see MetalTalk.net's Mark Taylor's many reviews and interviews right here. It's an impressive list...