Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium, London

Mick gets lippy, the home crowd goes wild
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The Independent Culture

"It's strange how you wind up back where you started, here in Twickenham in Richmond", mused Mick Jagger during a brief pause in last night's show - although he couldn't have known, when the Stones started out just up the road from here over four decades ago, quite the style in which they would return to their old stamping ground.

They were only playing there, of course, because Wembley wasn't yet ready to receive them. "I think they are going to get ready for the farewell tour... of the Arctic Monkeys," he said.

Certainly, the Stones' show did seem a little cramped, in Twickenham, which is more of a stadium than Wembley: the echo was a distant annoyance, particularly during the quieter passages of Streets of Love, one of the more recent numbers which proves Mick and Keith can still knock out a hit.

It was not out of place in last night's set, which was a virtual greatest hits package, from the opening chords of Jumping Jack Flash with which Keith announced their arrival to the blitzkrieg finale of Satisfaction which climaxed the show with the full compliment of fireworks, flashing lights and 30-foot tongues of flame leaping up from the sides of the stage.

As usual with the Stones, there was no expense spared, and no taste wasted, on the set, which featured what appeared to be two huge extensions to the Guggenheim Museum flanking a huge video screen behind the stage, their curved, slanting walkway tiers forming part of the light show. The massive scale did tend to dwarf the band, who seemed skinnier than ever in front of their giant projected selves, little Lowry matchstick-men throwing shapes across the vast curved apron of the stage. This was Mick's domain, of course, and he laboured hard to fill it while Keith and Ron wandered desultorily around during Start Me Up. Sound-wise it was a bit of a racket, to be honest, with Charlie's tom-toms popping really prominently out of the mix throughout the show. But Mick's throat appeared mended after his bout of laryngitis, and Keith's head seemed firmly screwed back on - as firmly as it ever did, anyway.

There can't be many other performers who can get a cheer by sauntering to the front of the stage and lighting up a ciggie - but then, who smokes with quite the panache Keith brings to this simple task?

As for Ronnie Wood - or "The Renoir of Rock", as Mick announced him - well, Ronnie was on pretty good form, chipping in a neat slide guitar break on Sway and adding some lovely counterpoint guitar to Streets of Love.

Midnight Rambler and Sympathy for the Devil were the two real standouts. The former found the band congregated in a tight knot in front of Charlie's drums, cranking up the riff while Mick added some tidy blues harp and did his Shamanic dancing on the apron.

For Sympathy, the crowd was way ahead of the band, chanting the woo-hoos before anyone but Charlie had started playing. When Mick appeared, he was clad in what seemed to be one of JK's old cast off hat and jacket combinations, which matched the dominant smoke and jets of flame with which the song was embellished. Another crowd-pleasing moment was the part, mid-way through Miss You, when the central section of the stage trundled forward with the band on board, halting mid-stadium so the folks at the back could get a better view. It's fun, but not quite as impressive as the cantilevered bridge with which the same move was made on the Bridges to Babylon shows.

And ultimately, all the sophisticated staging doesn't carry as much essential Stones appeal as the lippy attitude with which Mick delivered the contemptuous Oh No, Not You Again: it's quite heartening, really, how British sexagenerians can be as snotty as naughty schoolboys.

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