Dave J Hogan/Getty ImagesThe much-anticipated return to the U.K. stage by the Rolling Stones took place Sunday at London’s O2 Arena, in celebration of their 50th anniversary. A second show at the same venue will be held on Thursday.
According to NME, the first London show was a big night for members of the band and fans alike, as guests included former bass player Bill Wyman and guitarist Mick Taylor, the latter of whom replaced founding member Brian Jones in 1969 following his untimely death.
The appearances marked the first time either musician had performed in public with the Stones in more than 20 years. Wyman joined the Stones in 1962, at the very beginning of their career, and played with the group until 1993. Taylor left the band in 1974; Ronnie Wood was brought in to replace him.
Frontman Mick Jagger reportedly looked fit and trim and was in full command of his voice at the O2 Arena. The 69-year-old was joined by guest vocalist Mary J. Blige on “Gimmie Shelter,” while guitarist Keith Richards was helped by his old friend Jeff Beck on “I’m Going Down.”
The concert was preceded by video footage of various celebrities and musicians, including Iggy Pop, Elton John and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young, paying tribute to the Stones. Actor and musician Johnny Depp described their tunes as “music that makes you want to do bad things.”
A number of percussion players wearing gorilla masks -- echoing the artwork for the new compilation GRRR! -- strutted around the arena to kick off the show, before the band launched straight into “I Wanna Be Your Man,” written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It’s believed to be the first time that the Rolling Stones have played that number since 1964.
Jagger, dressed in skin-tight black pants, a black shirt and a sparkly tie, thanked the fans for their support over the years, saying, "It's amazing that we're still doing this, and it's amazing that you're still buying our records and coming to our shows," adding a heartfelt, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Richards made light of his drink-and-drugs reputation by telling the crowd, "I'm happy to see you. I'm happy to see anybody!" The flamboyant guitarist took lead vocals on “Before They Make You Run” from the 1978 album Some Girls and “Happy” from Exile on Main Street.
The band was joined by a full choir for an encore performance of "You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and the show ended with “Jumpin' Jack Flash.” Reportedly, the band's most famous song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” had to be dropped due to time constraints.
Tickets for the concert were being touted outside the venue for almost $5,000. At one point, Jagger joked, "How are you doing up in the cheap seats?" pointing to fans in the upper rows of the arena, quickly adding, “Except they're not cheap seats, that's the problem."
In addition to the second London date, the Rolling Stones will play the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on December 8 and at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on December 13 and 15.
Here's the set list from Sunday's show:
“I Wanna Be Your Man”
“Get Off of My Cloud”
“It’s All Over Now”
“Paint It Black"
“Gimme Shelter” (with Mary J. Blige)
“All Down the Line”
“I’m Going Down” (with Jeff Beck)
“Out of Control”
“One More Shot”
“Doom and Gloom”
“It’s Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)” (with Bill Wyman)
“Honky Tonk Woman”
“Before They Make Me Run”
“Midnight Rambler” (with Mick Taylor)
“Start Me Up”
“Sympathy for the Devil”
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (with choir)
“Jumpin' Jack Flash”
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