First Night: Wrinkly wonders of rock on a roll

The Rolling Stones Murrayfield Edinburgh
LIVING LEGENDS you don't want to see live, that's the current thinking of the Stones. Chris Evans idolises them, Super Grass sound like them, heck, the whole Sixties revival thing owes them a credit or two. And that's exactly the joy and the pain of a Rolling Stones gig these days. That special living-legend quality to their performance.

Sure, the classic iconic tracks sound as good as ever, with "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Satisfaction" still able to raise the roof even in Murrayfield's openair chill, but too many forgettable recent tracks slip into the running- order rescued only by the funked-up vocals of Lisa Fisher and the band's onstage antics rehearsed over decades.

Like some Viagra king, Jagger struts his stuff and pouts those lips, donning turquoise sequins and a jacket of Bacofoil. Keith, all blue rinse and Eco Warrior plaits, storms the crowd with "All About You", while Ronny pulls all the best faces to camera.

Charlie is the only one who looks and acts his age. Not a small part of the band's charm is that they somehow kept their hair and their figures. Imagine this lot bald, with midriffs. The question gets asked again and again: why don't they stop? Why don't they live quiet lives on the best golf courses instead of the best stages? But would you? Would any guy give up the adolescent fantasy when all this could be yours?

After 30 years these guys can still rock with the best of them in front of a stage set that makes Rod Stewart look bashful. Think rich bachelor pad, think classical columns, think intergalactic spaceships. Who wouldn't want to play a big guitar in front of that lot?

But the band has Sixties cool on their side and some of the best rock songs ever as helpers. They were always cooler than the Beatles, with their wild lives and black musical influences, and that makes up for all the naffness, the laughter and the forgetting of their Eighties and Nineties output.

Mick thanks us for waiting so long but the stadium's only two-thirds full. The diehards sing along but the rest of us can't put a name to the songs. That's what it's come to.

Golden oldies they may be, wrinkly wonders they certainly are but when they stick to the past the Stones are certainly on a roll.

Elisabeth Mahoney