It’s only Rock n Roll and I love it
As a music reviewer all you can really ask of yourself is that you keep an open mind and be honest.
I’m going to be upfront with you now, this was never going to happen last night. It was the Rolling frikkin Stones, man. Mick could have come on stage shouted a few “is everyone doing alriiiiight?’, clapped a bit, made a few ‘ooooh’ noises whilst flouncing around doing the coolest Bernie Clifton and Oswald the ostrich impression you will ever see and I still would have given it top marks. Whilst obviously all of this did actually happen, I’m pleased to report there was also so much more.
At a very respectable 8.20pm, the band kicked straight off with ‘Street Fighting Man’. This was met with rapturous applause and the crowd already on a high having been thoroughly warmed up by a superb set by local lads, The Specials. “We first played Coventry in 1963” announced Mick, to a crowd who for the vast majority had not even been born then and for some neither had their parents. But then again that fact right there is proof; The Stones transcend the normal boundaries of music. I’m struggling to think of many bands who in 50 odd years time will still command the world wide respect and adoration, across all generations, that these boys can.
Of course having an amazing back catalogue is crucial to this success, but to have a truly winning formula, it has to go deeper. For example, most of us are never going to be lucky enough to see The Rolling Stones play in the likes of the Matrix Ballroom again, but even in a large stadium venue, where big screens are a saving grace for most, their sheer charisma, interaction and energy somehow fooled you into feeling it was far more ‘intimate’ than it actually was.
With as many outfit changes for Mick as there were tunes, the hits just kept getting fired out. From ‘Its only Rock n Roll’, ‘Paint it Black’, the audience voted ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ to the more bluesy ‘Tumbling Dice’ the mic was then handed over to our Keef for a couple, including ‘Happy’ accompanied by Ronnie Wood on his steel guitar.
As it started to get darker, the atmosphere just got even more electric. In a rather surreal moment, the whole crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to a very embarrassed looking Charlie Watts who turned 77 that day. This is the bit where I have to say how much I love this drummer. Whilst Mick, Keith and Ronnie are unashamedly rock n’ roll, Charlie always seems to look like he is wondering what to have for his tea whenever I watch him play. Unassumingly nonchalant about being in one of the best bands in the world – he’s an absolute legend.
Ever the crowd pleaser, Mick pretty much skipped and ran up and down the stage for the whole two hour set. The man is a slinky hipped force of energy and wonderment. Significantly younger than him, I cant even walk up a flight of stairs without sounding like the Dark Lord himself, let alone racking up the likes of ‘Sympathy’, Start me Up’ and Brown Sugar all without missing a beat (or breath).
No encore would be complete without the two notable absences from the set. ‘Gimme Shelter’ was just goose-bump inducing superb. There are not many vocalists that can follow Merry Clayton, but Sasha Allen definitely can. With a voice as amazingly powerful as hers, its hardly surprising her vocals were not as loud as Mick’s, but that being said I would like them to have been turned up a little more. Its not everyday you get to hear such pure talent. The finale to end all finales was of course ‘Satisfaction’, which had pretty much everyone on their feet, singing and dancing.
I think I can speak for most of the 30,000 people in the Ricoh arena last night when I say, like The Rolling Stones we didn’t get no satisfaction either; we got unadulterated, overwhelming joy.