On Wednesday May 23rdwe travelled to Scotland, to Edinburgh to see the band Echo and the Bunnymen perform their most beloved and balladering hits with “orchestra.” Turned out to be a string quartet but lovely anyway. Then we took the train to London and I spent the next day choosing photos from Shutterstock for my next book Dancing in Fog City (1977-1989). While there, I noticed a pop up ad on my phone. It was a last minute offer for tickets to The Rolling Stones, who were playing THAT NIGHT at London’s Olympic Stadium. Was sold out so went to Stubhub (there are ALWAYS tickets to shows, excuse-making people) and they had two excellent tickets third row loge.
Traveling on the tube to the stadium that night, walking the long haul across greens and such to the huge venue, in the company of my beloved neighbors-over-the-pond Britains, made me ponder my heartfelt affections for everything English. I was born in 1960 and grew up on the Stones and the Beatles, had all the arguments as to who was better, etc. Then I heard Jethro Tull , Genesis, Yes, and Led Zeppelin and I knew who was better – those that came after the 60s to inhabit the 70s. Objectively they took everything started by the Beatles and Stones and made it bigger, badder and better from my point of view, again being only 10 years old in 1970 but therefore thrilling to my formative years. But a strange thing happened with the Stones and then Paul McCartney, both of whom are covered in my book about 1970s rock concerts, Rocking the City of Angels.
What happened in the 70s was, the Stones and Paul McCartney carried over what they knew from the 60s and did what some might argue was even more exceptional work. I’ll put on the Wings Venus and Mars three times to one over Sgt. Peppers. In the case of the Rolling Stones, I love Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main Street (1972) and their huge “comeback” near the end of the 70s, Some Girls (1978). It was the Stones and The Who, not the Beatles, not the Kinks, who took their craft through the 70s and actually excelled. Same story in my opinion with the 80s. So longevity is on their side.
If you ever needed proof that there may be a Devil, to whom you could sell your soul, you would be convinced of it at London Stadium last month. The Stones came out in a blast of smoke and just nailed their long set with aplomb. Even notorious on-his-last-legs Keith Richards hit his notes, and even he looked surprised when he did. Ronnie could relax a bit, and focus on his blistering solos. Charie Watts, the oldest of the bunch I think, just lays down that basic beat the way he always did, a deceptively catchy rhythm that actually swings – it’s a huge part of the Stones’ legacy.
And then there is Mick. What can one say about Mick “fn” Jagger that hasn’t been said? Musical hero, hot dude, great dancer, or just, one of the most exceptional front men ever to rock n roll, and probably the best that ever will be. Sure Daltry is amazing, Plant is magnetic, Collins was funny and imminently watchable, but Jagger, no one is really in his class, he filled it — party of one anyone? This man, who has no business being this good at this point in his life just killed it once again on the London stage. He is the most entertaining front man in rock – his dance, his chat, his sexy-time with Honky Tonk woman guest, which this time was Florence from FATM – not too shabby Mick. God, I love him and his rag tag bunch of bad boys. To see them all in London on the stage with all the local British people cheering them on at maximum volume was an unmatched experience. Man, I loved the Camel reunion, and Simple Minds 5×5 at the Roundhouse theater, and Hackett doing Genesis at the Royal Albert, etc. but to see these sons of Britain The Rolling Stones, in their home turf in front of almost 70,000 fans, wow. Thank you Mick and guys, thank you. A lifelong dream fulfilled for this unrepentant anglophile. Brilliant, as you say there, fucking brilliant.