Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Fri 15 June
Amid the deluge of over the top, oversized and overpriced stadium gigs we have on our doorstep this summer, the only one that actually got me out of the door and carrying a postage stamp-sized handbag to comply with security measures were the granddaddies of rock – The Rolling Bones, sorry Stones. The streets of Cardiff were a mass of big lips, tight jeans and expectation: a tangible atmosphere of pure joy hanging over the stadium. Not only were the legendary original blues boys back but they had a hit list ready as long as your repeat prescriptions.
Elbow were, as expected, bellowing and delivered a solid warmup, but it was the pirate-clad quartet (well, two of them initially) that had the crowd hyped to hell and back as they burst on the stage to Street Fighting Man. Mick et al – all the other, clearly better side of 70 – displayed his usual straggly dance moves and energetic strutting across the stage. Keith, Charlie and Ronnie looked at ease passing the occasional smile between them as they clearly relished performing their greatest and most loved.
Mick, in a cobalt blue leather jacket, looked every inch the rock star he is and laid it bare and raw, launching into It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It). With Tumbling Dice, a brilliant Paint It Black, Get Off Of My Cloud, and their cover of Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, the hits just kept coming. After You Can’t Always Get What You Want and a roof-lifting Honky Tonk Women, Mick introduced the band in his South London drawl, prompting the crowd to chant “RONNIE, RONNIE” and the band to nonchalantly wave and bow. (The new back-up kids in the band, on saxophone and guitar, were appreciated by the crowd to a less deafening degree.)
The occasional cockup and jokes with the crowd – Mick’s quips about visiting Cardiff and taking a trip to the museum! – only made it more of a great show. Keith quietened the mood with a solo blues number, You Got The Silver, before Mick returned in a sparkly, over the top change of outfit, and launched into Sympathy For The Devil. You forget how many brilliant songs they have written and recorded over the years, songs which still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and take you right back to the time you first heard it: Start Me Up, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar, classics all of them.
The show, full-on and exhausting, ended with an encore of Gimme Shelter and a final (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. I defy anyone to leave a Stones gig without an appreciation that they were in the presence of true rock gods; and await with interest, if I live that long, to see if Beyonce, Ed and Taylor fill out stadiums, belt out the hits and still love it in 50 years’ time.
words ANTONIA LEVAY photos MORGAN DEVINE