Of the 5,000 people who had queued along Charing Cross Road from the Virgin Megastore on Tuesday morning, some 3,000 had made it, pounds 25 lighter, to the queue that wrapped right round the Academy, and then was drawn by slow suction in to the building itself.
By 9.30 the queue had become a solid mass in the auditorium, so that when Keith Richards clobbered the opening chord to "Honky Tonk Women" all 3,000 yellow wrist bands went up and stayed up for the first half dozen numbers, like the arms of a luminous anenome.
This, we were given to understand, was a show for the hardcore fans, the ones who care madly enough to spend whole days in Charing Cross Road. The Stones themselves are, of course, their own biggest fans, which is one reason why they still exist. The other reason being that they are still remarkably good at their job.
And if the on-stage moves of the group were a little over-theatrical after years of playing to the back row of international football stadiums, then it must have brought some kind of chill to the spines of its original members to find themselves drowned out in this bedlam.
By 10.20 Jagger had ceased his starfish jumps and Keith Richards was doing spider kicks from a perch on a high stool. From only 100 feet away, they looked oddly vulnerable, and not like the gigantic video gargoyles who spent the weekend hovering over Wembley stadium like icons of a fading past.Reuse content