wed 26/09/2018

The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium review - until the next goodbye? | reviews, news & interviews

The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium review - until the next goodbye?

The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium review - until the next goodbye?

Their first UK tour in 11 years comes to an end where they began, in South West London

James Bay and Keith Richards during Beast of BurdenDave Hogan

Eel Pie, the tiny eyot in the Thames, is not too a long walk from Twickenham stadium – within hollering distance, almost, if you had that kind of voice. And if anywhere could lay claim to being the nursery that provided the perfect growing conditions for The Rolling Stones, then Eel Pie and The Crawdaddy in Richmond would be it. Mick Jagger name-checked them both during the gig, and George Melly once said of its legendary music venue, “You could see sex rising from Eel Pie like steam from a kettle”.

That head of steam pumped out the 1960s spirit of sex and liberation into the local and then the global atmosphere, engendering the climate change of the Sixties and all its cultural revolutions. Some 55 years later, that head of steam still infused the atmosphere in Twickenham Stadium as the Stones brought their latest UK tour to a close with a raw and ragged, passionate and engaged final bow to their fans and to their own legacy.

From this No Filter tour’s start at the London Stadium a month ago, they have driven their train hard through Coventry, Southampton, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff – seven dates in all, more than any UK jaunt of theirs since 1971 – and shown the 70,000 or so fans at each venue exactly why they remain the first and last word when it comes to rock 'n' roll and its founding spirit of self-liberation. From the crashing opening chords of “Street Fighting Man”, through to the extended, frenzied rave-up that was “Satisfaction” for a final 11-minute encore, this was a masterclass in ragged glories, often teetering on the brink of chaos, but always pulling in and pulling it together to raise that head of steam and the push-and-pull of a group interplay that can’t be faked.

James Bay, the night’s opener, guested on a beautiful “Beast of Burden” that rose up from its faltering first steps to be among the night’s most memorable, with Richards at times substituting the riff with a series of rolling jazz-inflected chords, little gestures that put the song into a spin without toppling it over. He did this a lot, even on the back end of rockers like “Start Me Up”, and as well as cutting off some monumental, extremely loud solos, his playing throughout was a masterclass in astute minimalism driven by an inner clockwork and sense of timing that must extend down to the atomic. Those hands don’t work as they once did, of course, and there were bum notes aplenty, but what’s torn and frayed is overarched by a cool, casual raggedness and precision that no other player possesses, and which would probably get him sacked from lesser, duller bands. Which is why they are not The Rolling Stones.

Passionate, committed and clearly out to pleasure themselves and then their audience – and how can we resist? there was a deep joy to be taken from those flashes on the big screens of Jagger’s delighted smile at some audacious band moment when it all falls together and the hairs rise on the back of your neck. Highlights? How about the ecstatic, extended play-out at the back end of “Paint It Black” or the hypnotic riffs circulating through “Tumbling Dice” as if they were its life blood. Ronnie Wood was on top form throughout, shredding spectacular solos on a vivid, pulverising “Midnight Rambler” and weaving a beautiful tapestry of sound with Keith on the likes of “Before They Make Me Run” and “Start Me Up”, each of them rolling easy as much as they rocked hard. Which is what the Stones are all about. It’s what creates that head of steam.

Fifty-five years on, it feels like a miracle that this music, this band, remain so potent, so into it, wringing out nuances from songs so familiar they should be husks rather than the living, breathing beings they are. The last goodbye? “I’m gonna miss you guys,” Keith says at one point, and it looks like he’s about to say more, but doesn’t, or can’t. When words fail, let the music speak for itself, perhaps. It’s been six years since they played the UK, and if they leave it another six, Jagger willl be 80, Charlie Watts 83. Let that sink in. And let the music speak for itself.

It feels like a miracle that this music, this band, remain so potent, so into it

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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