Last Friday The Wildness Of My Horses and I went to a nearby music venue to see a local blues band play a few numbers, for LO! The Rolling Stones were playing at The Olympic Stadium and we had tickets!
We arrived just in time to miss Florence and The Machine and got ourselves settled into our seats. We'd picked a place similar to where we usually try to be at the O2 for gigs, so it felt a) quite like that and thus b) a bit weird to see daylight coming through the roof.
Not long after we arrived the Stones came on and were...well, a bit ropey really. It was all Quite Odd. These days when you go to big gigs you expect it all to be super slick, but this was definitely NOT that. For the first few songs they were all over the place, out of time with each other and clearly struggling a bit. I did wonder if maybe something was up with the sound, as irrespective of performance it wasn't perfect, but the fact that they got it together as they went along, but then still went off the rails every now and then, made me think it was probably just them being ropey. It was sort of endearing in a way, in that they were more like the slightly hopeless under-rehearsed "real" bands that I see and play with/in rather than a West End show, but the fact that we were paying about TWENTY TIMES as much to see them than some act first on at The Buffalo Bar did make me think they might have practiced a bit more! It's all well and good when ONE song descends into chaotic noise for an ending, but when they ALL do it you start to think it might not be an Artistic Decision - I was particularly annoyed with Mr C Watts, who spent the whole show looking like he'd rather be elsewhere. Come on Charlie, you're in charge of the rhythm up there, get it together!
The reason I could see Charlie's ennui was because of the GINORMOUS screens that were set up at the rear of the stage. These were AMAZING - there were four of them in a row, one for each Official Stone, each screen about five times taller than they were wide. At various points the Vision Mixers were able to dedicate a screen to each band member, in Portrait Format, so they looked MASSIVE. As The Tumbling Of My Dice said, it made it all look a lot more Dynamic than it would have been if we'd just been watching the band, as Mr Wood on Guitar and Sir Ian McKellen on Other Guitar did not exactly move around a lot. Ronnie looked like the guitar was a bit heavy at times, in fact.
Sir Michael Jagger, however, certainly DID move around a lot - he was BLOODY BRILLIANT! Having the huge screens meant you got to watch him UP CLOSE working the crowd, which he did EXTREMELY well, also VIGOROUSLY. You'd never guess he was 103! He was also EXCELLENT at between song chat, treating the whole thing half like a stadium gig, half like the back room of a pub, chatting casually about how difficult his shirt was to put on and then saying "Great to be back in Newham - a beautiful part of the world," which is not a sentiment which I think has ever previously been expressed in such a way. He also said "We came here on the ... JUBILEE LINE!" (which evoked cheers - again, not something that usually happens when you mention the Jubilee Line) "Yeah! From Canary Wharf to... STRATFORD!"
The songs might have been a bit ropey but it was GRATE to see the band, although I did have to keep reminding myself that I was there, Actually Watching The Actual Rolling Stones. I think I've seen those images of Mick strutting across the stage, or Keith GRINNING, or Charlie wondering if the shops'll still be open after, SO often that it was slightly ALIENATING to see them live. "This is not on telly," I had to keep reminding myself. "These are the same people who played Altamont, and Hyde Park, and went to the Day In The Life sessions!"
They played a LOT of The Hits too, including a rather good version of "Wild Horses" with the aforesaid Florence, and basically everything you'd expect them to do, including "Satisfaction" at the end with FIREWORKS (which we'd seen from our flat at the end of Tuesday's show)! Hearing them all in a row like that did make them all sound a BIT all the same, but HEY! That is the BLUES!
All in all we were glad we went - they are, after all, LEGENDS, and it does mean that I only have Paul Simon left on my Big List Of Greats To See Before They Die - but we were glad too to have paid for the tickets WELL in advance. If the memory of handing over a TONNE of CA$H for tickets had been fresher I don't think I'd have been quite so forgiving!