Rolling Stones fever rocked London on Tuesday night as the band returned to Twickenham for the last night of their UK “No Filter” tour. The Rugby Stadium venue was sold out to 80,000 fans including your reporter. Under the open top and blue sky, the 24-year-old James Bay flew in from Berlin to warm up the audience. Bay’s new 2018 image with short hair and wearing silver pants held the fans at bay, when he wrapped up his set with his hit “Hold Back The River” everyone knew the Stones were on next, the excitement was palpable.
As the gloaming descended into the arena Mick Jagger performed with as much energy as he did in 1969, although Jagger and Keith Richards are 74, Ronnie Wood is 71 and Charlie Watts is 77, nobody could say this is a geriatric band; all the rumours of Stones needing oxygen between numbers are jokey fake news. The fitness required for such a gig is unimaginable for most seventy-year olds; Jagger sprints at least a marathon over the breadth of the stage, up and down the catwalk with the agility of a puma and staging a mesmerising shimmy like a peacock during the instrumentals, he changed his colourful sequined shirts repeatedly.James Bay living his dream returned for duet with Jagger, a once in a lifetime performance of “Beast of Burden”.
The two hours were filled with the greatest rock-and -roll numbers the world has arguably ever heard; the audience of all ages were on their feet from beginning to end. Our group were middle aged rockers with a 22-year-old beauty keeping us company; remembering how old even a forty-year old looked to us when we were 22, we wondered how ancient these consummate performers and idols of the R&R world looked to her? The truth is nothing rolls back the years more than a trip to one’s youth. Your reporter was fortunate to receive a “Pit A” wristband which allowed spectating right at the front. Words fail to describe the 360degree view, from the stage the performers see something like a giant stepwell filled with people, cell phones flashing, feet stepping and arms waving to the beat; the stepwell populous are fixated more on the giant screens that exaggerate the miniature Stones on stage every move, and every wrinkle.
Jagger introduces his longterm players, Ronnie Wood exuberant in every way takes a bow and arms outstretched swoops down the catwalk; Keith Richards in his traditional pirate bandana and whose rare smile can light up even the most recalcitrant has a dress thrown at him which he promptly tucked into his belt, where it dangled for the rest of the show; Charlie Watts drummer extraordinaire and most sentient being received thunderous admiration. The catalogue of Number1 hits continued, quantities of beer and fizzy white wine were weaved between the audience keeping people refreshed and drenched, your reporter had beer spilled on her head and in her shoes, but she couldn’t have cared less.
Following the iconic performance and elation it was a disappointment to find that South Western Railway had closed Twickenham Station without warning or reason. 80,000 fans were stranded, the advice was to walk 3 miles to Richmond Station, the Uber App crashed and the congestion in the neighbouring roads was chaos as every taxi company in London tried to locate their client. Many clients had used their cell phone battery taking videos of the performance and anyway there were so many cell phones all together there was no network. The Stones had zoomed off in their identical black Mercedes strategically parked backstage before the crowd had left the stadium, moving on to wow Germany, France and Poland with “No Filter”.