The Rolling Stones returned to London for the band’s first hometown show in five years on May 22. It was the second stop on the “No Filter” tour and the usually football-ready London Stadium, where West Ham United Football Club plays, was converted to a GA floor so fans were able to get close to the front. Good thing because it was a stripped-down affair, with no fancy stagecraft or giant inflatable women.
Mick Jagger will turn 75 in July, and while many marvel at the immortal genes of Keith Richards, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone 25 years away from 100 who has the energy, style, grace and, yes, voice of Jagger. That he can still sing is impressive in and of itself, but the fact that Jagger can run across the stage, and up and down a runway that jutted out into the crowd is mind-blowing.
Richards, on the other hand, may live forever, but he looks like the Crypt Keeper at this point. He seems tired, and it shows. Richards missed a few notes here and there on the guitar, and his two lead vocals, on “Before They Make Me Run” and “Slipping Away,” brought the show’s energy down to a screeching halt. Elsewhere on the decibel scale, Richards’ guitar was much too loud and abrasive.
The real star of the night was Ron Wood. Still considered “the new guy,” even though he’s been in the Stones since 1975, his guitar playing is better than ever. Wood’s solo on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was spot-on, and his interweaving guitar lines with Richards are still amazing.
The set list varied from the tour opener in Dublin last week, kicking off with “Street Fighting Man,” which the band didn’t play in Ireland. The fan pick, judging by social media, was “Under My Thumb,” a tune that hasn’t really had a good onstage workout since the band’s 1981 American tour. “Fool To Cry” was a surprise, and Jagger got up to the falsetto parts without a problem. There was only one track from the Stone’s most recent album, “Blue and Lonesome:” “Ride On Down” was in the Dublin set, along with “Just Your Fool.” The two encores on Tuesday night were “Gimme Shelter” and “Satisfaction.”
It’s refreshing that the guys aren’t phoning it in and playing the same hits every night. And to be fair, they sound better than they have in years, though you have to wonder how much longer they can go.
Liam Gallagher opened the night, which turned out to be a perfect pairing. Though he was the warmup act, Gallagher gave his all as if it was an Oasis show. Performing two songs from his debut solo album, “As You Were,” and a handful by his former band, Gallagher’s set included a bonus: Oasis rhythm guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthur. Not quite the reunion fans dream of, but it’s a start.