Rolling Stones electrify London as they celebrate their 50th

Nov 26, 2012

Mick Jagger and his bandmates mark anniversary with star-studded show that leaves critics raving

Ian Gavan/ Getty Images

Guitarist Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones performs with drummer Charlie Watts in the background. The show included guest performances from Mary J Blige, who sang Gimme Shelter with Mick Jagger; Bill Wyman, the band's original bass player; and former member Mick Taylor, who played a guitar solo on Midnight Rambler.

SCEPTICS said the ticket prices were too high and the band was too old, but the Rolling Stones silenced their critics last night with an "electrifying" two-and-a-half hours performance that "seemed to get better with each song".

Led by Mick Jagger, a man on the cusp of 70, the first of two 50th anniversary shows at London's O2 Arena showed the Stones laying credible claim to the title of the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World, says The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick.

His four-star review says the veteran band enters a realm of its own at the "intersection of showbiz flashiness and wild rock... Sympathy For The Devil was phenomenal, Tumbling Dice was a rip roaring treat, Jumping Jack Flash a rocking blast."

Will Hodgkinson in The Times was even more enthusiastic. Their potency and vigour "goes against the laws of nature and reason" he writes, but "this really did feel like a band at the height of its powers, fifty years young and still knocking them dead".

With Jagger decked out in a houndstooth jacket and matching trilby, the Stones performed to a capacity crowd of 20,000 that had paid up to £950 a head for the privilege.

The Sun's Gordon Smart says, "The acoustics were great, the band were tight, but rough around the edges." Jagger's voice "sounded strong – defying the march of time that so many of his peers have failed to conquer."

There was more praise for the night's guest appearances, some of which had been foreseen, some of which were surprises. Former member Mick Taylor's guitar solo on Midnight Rambler was "really thrilling" says The Guardian's Alexis Petridis and the sound of American soul great Mary J Blige trading vocal lines with Jagger on Gimme Shelter was "genuinely gripping".

Bill Wyman, the band's original bassplayer was "as stolid as ever" on It's Only Rock 'n' Roll and Honky Tonk Women says The Independent, but it was the blues epic Midnight Rambler that weaved the most potent spell as Taylor's "stinging lead lines" combined with Jagger's harmonica and the "tight interplay" of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood's guitars.

"For seven minutes or so, the years fall away and it seems as if the group were still at the cutting edge of pop."

The Rolling Stones play a second show at the 02 Arena on Thursday, 29 November.

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