Record of the Day Music Press Awards Live Reviews Writer of the Year: Third years in a row!

IoS pop review: The Rolling Stones, O2, London
Bobby Womack, The Forum, London

Purveyors of fine rock'n'roll since 1962: Their Satanic Majesties were long ago replaced by some cuddly gents. But never let anyone tell you The Rolling Stones are too old to sparkle

You can't always get what you want. Not if what you want is The Rolling Stones with a steely edge of evil, rather than the golden glow of nostalgia. If what you want is the Stones as documented via the utter amoral depravity of Robert Frank's documentary Cocksucker Blues or the arty extremism of Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil, not the sentimental poignancy of Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light. The Stones who inspired Guy Peellaert's infamous painting of the band as Nazi paedophiles, not the cosily misogynist animations on the big screen tonight for "Honky Tonk Women" (no criticism, by the way: The Rolling Stones are proof that a certain measure of misogyny is the bitter beating heart of rock'n'roll). If you want nasty, not nice – if, basically, you want them to bring on the badass – then Grrr! isn't the tour for you.

What you get for your money – a reported £10,000 for secondary market front-row seats, and a bare minimum £90 for a bog-standard bucket seat (we've come a long way since the free concert in Hyde Park) – is still pretty damn great.

On a stage in the shape of their mouth logo – the inflatable arch forms the upper lip, the runway loop forms the tongue – there they stand, 50 years on. And let's nail the age thing once and for all. Nobody tells blues or folk singers when to retire. While there's blood in their veins and breath in their lungs, why should the Stones?

The praise surrounding comeback single "Doom and Gloom" has been faintly patronising, as though everyone's surprised that The Rolling Stones are still capable of sounding like The Rolling Stones. Self-evidently, they've still got the skills. Keith Richards, with a face that looks like it's fallen out of more than one coconut tree, has the cut-and-thrust chops to match his charisma. The skull-cheeked Charlie Watts and the suspiciously lustrous-haired Ronnie Wood can play a bit too. And the astonishingly lithe Mick, dancing for over two hours like an electrocuted gibbon? He's got ... well, he's got them moves like Jagger.

The recent rash of Jagger references in pop – Cher Lloyd, Kesha, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas – may seem baffling, but he still clearly holds some sort of sexual power over the imagination. After he stashes his microphone phallically into the waistband of his jeans, someone throws a black bra at his feet.

From "Get Off of My Cloud" through to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", it's a safe, hits-based set. I might have coughed up 10 grand for the unplayed "Emotional Rescue" and "Undercover of the Night" (or at least, 90 quid), but it's hard to complain about a set whose majestic moments include the pummeling psych-noir of "Paint it Black", the peerless sleaze-disco of "Miss You", and the satanic samba of "Sympathy for the Devil", for which the singer inexplicably dons a black shag-pile carpet.

There's much local banter about Mick and Keith swapping Bo Diddley records at Dartford station. And there are guests. A velvet-suited Florence Welch is wheeled out to bellow – and, frankly, ruin – "Gimme Shelter". Eric Clapton, whom Jagger remembers dancing down the front at their early gigs, comes out for Muddy Waters' "Champagne and Reefer", and is kept on the far side of the stage. Former member Mick Taylor is brought on for a stint, as is Bill Wyman (talking of whom, in the current climate it's probably for the best that "Stray Cat Blues" – "I can see that you're 15 years old… No I don't want your ID" – is omitted from the set). The loudest cheers, however, come whenever Keith steps forward for some no-nonsense riffing. And when he slashes the opening chords of "Jumpin' Jack Flash", you reach a simple realisation: if you don't like The Rolling Stones, you don't like rock'n'roll. And I like it, like it, yes I do.

If Bobby Womack was only remembered for writing "It's All Over Now" before the Stones got their grubby paws on it, he might have been a footnote in rock history. But his is a life story and a career you couldn't make up. Shunned by the soul community for shacking up with Sam Cooke's widow (only, to divorce her back in 1970), afflicted by cocaine addiction and devastated by the suicide of his son, and almost killed by severe pneumonia and cancer, he's somehow still standing. And,  it must be said, looking mighty fine in a scarlet pimp-cap, leather jacket and shades.

Womack's latest album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, has been hailed as one of 2012's finest, and a selection of its electro-organic lo-fi soul jewels is performed at The Forum with collaborators Damon Albarn (who has used Womack's larynx to glorious effect with Gorillaz) and XL Recordings' Richard Russell. As it ends, Damon falls to his knees in we're-not-worthy supplication (Bobby doesn't even notice), and spends the second section of the show cheerleading from the side, in fanboy heaven.

You can't blame him. Womack has the kind of voice – rough edged but sweet – that transcends reason and demands assent, and songs to die for, from the Blaxploitation classic "Across 110th Street", to the sublime "If You Think You're Lonely Now", which juxtaposes the sound of a "quiet storm" bedroom jam with a lyric that's full of vengeance served cold.

There aren't many singers who could get away with calling not one but two albums The Poet. But, as Damon knows and tonight shows, there's only one Bobby Womack.

Critic's Choice

Glasvegas, the kings of emotionally charged Spectoresque rock, play O2 Academy, Manchester (tonight); O2 Academy, Newcastle (Mon); Ironworks, Inverness (Wed); The Garage, Aberdeen (Thu); The Garage, Glasgow (Sat); and more. Meanwhile, Madness take their Charge of the Mad Brigade tour to Bournemouth International Centre (Mon); Pavilions, Plymouth (Tue); The Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (Thu); Liverpool Echo Arena (Fri) and Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle (Sat).

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas