Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Start me up! The Rolling Stones at the 02 Arena

Exactly a year and a day after we last saw them at Twickenham Stadium, Sparky Ma and I hauled our way over to the 02 Arena in North Greenwich to once again worship the greatest rock 'n roll band in the world *EVAH* - The Rolling Stones.

This was my birthday present to Sparky Ma; OK, her birthday's not until next month, but I could hardly ask Mick 'n Keef to come back in September, could I? Or *could* I…? Anywaywe got up their a little bit early and had a stroll around the dome. I said it in my Prince post a few weeks back, and I'll say it again now: the dome is cool. There's actually quite a lot of it that's still empty, so it'll be cool to see what it's like in a year or so when a few more shops and restaurants are open. But in the meantime - it's got a beach! I kid yee not, people, there's a frikkin' inside beach with real sand an fake palm trees (best keep Keef away from them, I thought…).

Anyway, we went and got our seats after a little walk around. Unlike when I saw Prince, we were right up the top of the arena, but hell, you still get a cracking view, and it's at least half the size of any other venue I've seen the Stones play, so I'm not complaining.

Despite having seen posters that said the support act were going to be Jet, they'd either changed or I'd misread it, and we got The Kooks instead. Now, loooooooong time readers might recall that I bought The Kooks album just after I'd started blogging, and wrote a post saying how I thought it was OK. Well, after about two weeks I promptly went off them, and to be honest I can't say I was massively impressed by them live. The reasons for this are two-fold:

1. I don't really like their songs anymore, and I don't think they actually played that well.
2. The lead singer didn't make any attempt to engage with the crowd, and at one point said something that seemed a bit dismissive of the audience. And when they finished, he dropped his guitar on the stage and just walked off. Rude little shit.

Here's a clip of them anyway - you can make up your own mind. But whatever you think, they were a bit rubbish.

After The Kooks we sat there with expectation building for the main event. I’m always excited at gigs, but the Stones are something altogether different. Then all of a sudden the lights went down, and they exploded on to the stage; seriously, they don’t amble on – they literally explode out in front of you (well, maybe not *literally*, but you know what I mean). They started, appropriately enough with ‘Start Me Up,’ and awesomeness ensued.

This was The Rolling Stones like I’ve never seen them before; the stage set was stripped back – there were no massive constructions like there were at Twickenham last year, just a big video screen and four rock gods. And they proved, as if there could be any doubt, that they don’t need elaborate theatrics to put on a stunning show. Jagger was all over the stage, shaking his hips and waving his arms like a crazy man, while Keef just played out phat (yes, that’s with a ‘PH’) riffs and smiled. Ronnie was bounding around like a toddler after too many Capri Suns, and Charlie… Well Charlie was just like he always is: sitting behind his drums looking like he’d rather be at home watching Corrie, but a vital part of this rock ‘n roll circus nevertheless.

A moment of hilarity occurred just two songs in when, during ‘Rocks Off,’ Mick obviously thought he was finishing the song but the band kept playing. After a moment of what looked to be brief indignation, Jagger threw himself back into it, and when it really did finish he turned to the audience and said “how does that song finish anyway?”

I love the way that Jagger works the crowd; from running from one side of the stage to the other, to his exaggerated dance moves that would look, quite frankly, rather ridiculous if anyone else tried to pull them off, and inviting us all to Ronnie Wood’s party on Friday (seriously, can I go?), there’s no doubt in my mind that he is the most engaging and talented frontman ever to step onto a stage.

Then there was Keef and Ronnie violating the new smoking ban; Keef took a looooong drag on a ciggie, then knowingly said “that tastes gooood…” as he threw it to the stage. I mean, really, who the hell is going to tell Keith Richards to put his cigarette out?

And things only got better. When they wheeled the stage out into the centre of the arena to play three songs in the round I could literally see their eyes, could see the impish glee in Jagger’s face when he took a swig of water then drop-kicked the bottle into the audience. And they JUST. KEPT. GOING. We had an amazing rendition of ‘Paint it Black,’ and the audience were whipped into a frenzy of “WOO-WOOS!” during ‘Sympathy for the Devil.’ Finally, just before 11pm they came out one more time for ‘Brown Sugar’ (how could they not play that?), before taking their bows (in Jagger’s case, such elaborate and over the top bows that they made Sparky Ma laugh and call him a “prima-donna”) and leaving the stage.

AMAZING. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: if you get the chance to see the Stones, TAKE IT. Now, should I go see them again on Sunday…?


OK chaps, my photos turned out a bit crappy, mainly because the lighting in the arena made it look like I spent the evening watching a supernova explode, but, y’know, here they are anyway.

And here's my video clips!

WOO-WOO! You can just about make out a tiny tiny Mick Jagger bounding onto stage at the end of this one!


Tara said...

Very exciting! I'm so happy that The Rolling Stones did not disappoint. Is that even possible? Hey, which Stones song had the video where they are walking around amidst the buildings as giants?

And what's with the lead singer from The Kooks? Where does he get off being all rude when he should be thankful they have fans?

Dinah said...

Whoo!!!!!!!!! awesome. I'm so glad you had a good time.

Tim said...

Tara - I don't think the Stones could disappoint. But I'd be willing to test the theory if anyone wants to buy me tickets to the next gigs!!

Um, I think the track you're talking about is Love is Strong… that was a cool video!

Dinah - It was AWESOME!