9th June 2018
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
I once HATED The Rolling Stones. Sort of.
My lifelong obsession with music began sometime in the mid 1960s, when my Dad gave me a old radio to play with. Not quite a valve job, but it did have one of those big dials one could (in theory) rotate to tune into stations with impossibly exotic sounding names like Hilversum, Wien and Luxembourg. Although, in reality, I rarely left Radio One.
The first song I can recall falling for was Young Girl by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (or Union Jack, as I misheard it). I could not understand a word of what the chap was singing about. Best perhaps to draw a veil over the potential meanings in these ultra-PC times, I think.
Anyway, “my” song appeared to linger at Number One for ages; me thinking perhaps it would get to stay there forever, as it was so good. But it was eventually replaced by what many still regard as The Rolling Stones’ finest moment: Jumpin’ Jack Flash. And I hated the song...and The Rolling Stones...for having the audacity to bump my fave off the top. And thus began a (quite literally) childish and utterly illogical prejudice against Mick and his buddies. One which lasted way into my teens – long after I should have been able to park such nonsense.
I eventually learned to love most of those classic Stones’ tunes, but rather like with The Who when I think about it, dipping into the various albums (Goat’s Head Soup apart) found me coming away just a touch underwhelmed.
So that is sort of my excuse for having waited until the band has been on the go for well over a half century, before deciding to see for myself why these four elderly septuagenarians had once been described as “The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World”.
|£30 T Shirt, anyone?|
|On the left of this picture you can see a tram whizzing past.|
It is sobering tho think for the cost of this tiddly little tram system (£776M), one could have built 15 Murrayfields
But before the Diva’s hit the stage we had former Verve singer Richard Ashcroft to entertain us.
Some years back, subsequent to all the contemporary hype, I sought out Urban Hymns in an attempt suss what all the fuss was about. Bitter Sweet Symphony and Lucky Man were each self-evident masterpieces, but the rest of the collection I felt to be distinctly insubstantial – merely a clutch of so-so compositions riding along on the coat-tails of their pair of illustrious mates.
And, although I enjoyed the work of the dread-locked guitarist in Ashcroft's band immensely this evening I have to say my same assertion could be made for Richard’s set here. Again a clutch of humdrum tunes to be sat through until those two classics were aired.
Five of the eight songs performed came from that Urban Hymns album – a damning indictment of the quality (or lack thereof) of Ashcroft’s output of the last 20 years, one could argue.
I can recall Chris Martin at Live8 introducing Ashcroft as "The Best Singer in the World !" High praise, indeed. All I saw and heard this evening was a middle-aged geezer in a shiny jacket still dining out on a fleeting visit by The Muse (the goddess, not the band) almost a quarter of a century ago.
|The guitarist here (cannot find his name) stole the (support) show.|
|Richard Ashcroft - Murrayfield 2018|
|Richard Ashcroft - Murrayfield 2018|
|The rain had hammered down during Richard Ashcroft's set.|
But stopped in time for The Rolling Stones.
Nevertheless a deal of mopping up was required, if Mick was not going to slip and do his back during his sashaying.
Having dilly-dallied over applying for a ticket, I had found myself seated across from the stage, with the result the sound was just awful. There appeared to be an odd echo to the bass guitar which just muffled everything. It was clearly noticeable during Ashcroft’s set, and I had hoped things may have been sorted out by the sound chaps for the main act. But by the opening few bars of Start Me Up, it became apparent the problem was probably an intractable one subsequent to me being sited at right-angles to the speaker stacks.
I endured it for as long as I could, but when the distortion caused You Can’t Always Get What You Want to degenerate into a messy muddle, I decided decisive action was required.
So I left my comfy seat amongst the assembled wrinklies in order to to attempt to sneak into the young pups' on-the-pitch party. Which I found to be remarkably simple: by purposefully striding past the stewards/security as if I knew were I was going (and had a perfect right to get there) whilst simultaneously avoiding eye-contact.
|Start Me Up|
|The Rolling Stones - Murrayfield 2018|
The downside of being down on the pitch was that Mick and Co. were naught but little munchkins in the distance, but at least the sound was pretty damn perfect.
And from Keef’s sprightly rendition of Happy onwards, the old rockers certainly jacked things up a couple of gears. Sympathy for the Devil had Mick performing in a flowing black cloak in front of suitably infernal images. An effect which could easily have looked silly, and yet somehow worked.
And, although Midnight Rambler perhaps dribbled on just a touch too long, the final eight songs this evening represented as fine a chunk of live rock 'n' roll as I have enjoyed in many a year. I could be listening to that raucous rendition of Brown Sugar yet, and not be bored.
And it did make me ponder just how darned good The Stones had truly been back in the early Seventies? When someone invents a Time Machine.....
|There is something undefineably creepy about all those Keefs and all those teeth.|
|You Got The Silver|
|Sympathy for the Devil|
|Anyone elso look at this pic and think "Jimmy Pursey is looking well"?|
|Sasha Allan duetted with MJ on Gimme Shelter|
|We all love fireworks.|
Start Me Up
Let’s Spend the Night together
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
Under My Thumb
Ride ‘Em on Down
She’s a Rainbow
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Paint it Black
Honky Tonk Women
You Got The Silver
Sympathy for the Devil
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction