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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz