Review: Special guests keep The Rolling Stones going at 50
First Night: The Rolling Stones, 02 Arena, London
"It's been a great year for British celebrations," muses Mick Jagger at one point in last night's set. "There was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee… but we didn't do that. Then there was the Olympics… but we didn't do that. And the new Bond movie … but we didn't do that. But we're just glad we just got in under the wire to do this."
This, of course, is the Stones' own jubilee, their 50th-anniversary celebration, and while it might lack the sheer lavish spectacle of their world-tour stagings, the event's unique cachet is assured partly by the excellence of the set list, which visits beloved corners of the band's catalogue rarely featured in their usual shows, and partly by the presence of a few special guests.
It starts with a deliberate nod to their youth, with an elastic "I Wanna Be Your Man", the song written for them by Lennon & McCartney. Clad in white jacket and trilby over black shirt and strides, Jagger writhes like a whiplash with knots for joints, strutting on pipe-cleaner legs across the stage, except for the brief moment when his hips twirl implausibly. But he's in good voice, impressively strident here and on a "Get Off My Cloud" driven by a slinky funk twitch. "It's All Over Now" continues the vintage cruise, Ronnie Wood essaying a brief, tart guitar break before Keith Richards nonchalantly slices out the declamatory closing chords.
Wood's sitar-guitar arabesques decorate a dervish "Paint It Black", before Mary J Blige appears to duet on "Gimme Shelter": she's good, but sadly the song loses impetus partway through, as if estranged from the delirium that gave the original such potency. But a poignant "Wild Horses" is well received, as too is "Down the Line", which provides one of the night's welcome surprises, its backdrop montage of Howlin' Wolf, Hank Williams, the Staple Singers, Chuck Berry et al offering a one-stop nod to the band's influences.
Jeff Beck contributes his whizz-bang guitar pyrotechnics to a cover of "I'm Going Down", but it's the other guests who arouse the fondest memories, Bill Wyman stolid as ever on "It's Only Rock'n'Roll" and "Honky Tonk Women", and a jowly Mick Taylor summoning up the band's golden era on a lengthy "Midnight Rambler", his stinging lead lines locking well with Jagger's blues harmonica and the tight interplay of Keith and Ronnie'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 – something their two new numbers, sadly, never quite manage.
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 3 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 The jihadi girls who went to Syria weren't just radicalised by Isis — they were groomed
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
James Bond: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming 007 film Spectre
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'