The Rolling Stones

There's always that risk when you get to cross off your heroes from the all-time must-see list. Neil Young, Jane's Addiction, Dylan and Van have all delivered for me - only Lou Reed's grumpiness has really let me down. So it's kind of surreal to finally be able to check the Stones off, esp catching the final show of their two year Bigger Bang tour ??which is rumoured to be their last tour ever. Even Bill Wyman showed up (in the audience).

It's clear from the start that Mick wrote the book on being a rock frontman - he jogs around the stage, shouts out to all the different bits of the stadium, gets everyone singing (like they're not going to), tells the odd joke, strips off various layers as the gig goes along etc etc.

Keith's playing is still pretty awesome; the way he strokes chords out of his battered telecaster is one of those archetypal rock poses. No illegal smoking this time round, but everything else was what you wanted - his solo singing spot w Ron was one of the highlights, (although though you think they got the "you play guitar/I'll sing" division sorted out from the start when Mick starts playing guitar for a bit).

Ron looks like he's covering for the bits when Keith steps back for a little wander around; he also holds down some of the classic riffs as well.

As ever, Charlie's drumming holds it all together - one of those musicians who's so tight he never really looks like he's even playing.

What really impressed was how loose they still keep it - if you think about the machine behind a two year tour, it's cool to see them smiling at each other, mucking about, occasionally looking like they're going to bump into each other etc. Obviously, there's a lot of choreography, with mini-breaks built into the set to give them all a rest at different times without having to all go off stage; but that also gives the gig as a whole a natural pace and balance - they go from the bare bones version - the four Stones plus Bernard Fowler on bass - to adding backing singers, a brass section, keyboards, percussion, another guitar player (not quite sure they really need him).

The best section is probably when they step onto a section in the middle of the stage which lifts up (as they're playing) and zooms them forwards into the crowd. They drop the cameras and the giant screen footage and it's just the four (plus two) of them rocking out.

The O2 (that's "the Dome" to you and me) is a surprisingly good venue (in stadium terms) - decent rake so you can see over the people in front, sound loud enough to feel like it's a big event without it being deafening - and also, (for the crowd safety and facilities minded of you) pretty well organised - North Greenwich tube right there, didn't feel like the insane crush you get in some older giant venues around London getting in or out. Overpriced burgers, hotdogs and beers all present as you'd expect, but not crazy $; a kind of Vegas/Starbucks vibe going on around the other bits you walk through to get there.

personally, would have loved to hear Gimme Shelter, No Expectations or Midnight Rambler, but it's hard to argue with a mostly killer 19-song set that included Miss You, Tumbling Dice and Can't You Hear Me Knocking alongside the obligatory hits like Satisfaction and Start Me Up.


Set List

Start Me Up
You Got Me Rocking
Rough Justice (yup, it's a "new one")
Ain't Too Proud to Beg
She Was Hot (from 1983's Undercover)
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Can't You Hear Me Knocking
I Go Crazy (James Brown cover)
Tumbling Dice

Solo Keef n Ron moment:
You Got the Silver
Wanna Hold You

Ooh They're Coming Into The Crowd:
Miss You
It's Only Rock And Roll
Satisfaction
Honky Tonk Woman

Now They're Back On The Main Stage Again:
Sympathy for the Devil
Paint It Black
Jumpin' Jack Flash

Encore:
Brown Sugar