Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Stones roll back the years

Keith Richards said Mick Jagger would only decide the final set list for their Hyde Park gig before the show started
Keith Richards said Mick Jagger would only decide the final set list for their Hyde Park gig before the show started

The Rolling Stones have returned to London's Hyde Park - after a gap of 44 years and one day.

Last time, Mick Jagger wore a white dress and began by quoting from a poem by Shelley. This time, Jagger - now Sir Mick and celebrating his 70th birthday in three weeks - was wearing a leopard print jacket and he launched straight into Start Me Up, the band's last top 10 hit.

"How're you doing?" he asked the crowd before their second song, it's Only Rock And Roll.

It was the Stones' first gig in Hyde Park since that historic free concert on July 5 1969 - just two days after the death of founder member Brian Jones, who was found dead in the swimming pool at his Sussex home shortly after leaving the band. That show marked the live debut of his replacement guitarist, Mick Taylor, who was later replaced by Ronnie Wood.

The set opened with a series of songs that had not even been written in 1969.

Tens of thousands of people were in the crowd, including stars such as David Walliams and wife Lara Stone, Gemma Arterton, Ben Wishaw, Chris O'Dowd, Noel Fielding, Simon Fuller and Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, who were all in the Barclaycard Unwind VIP area..

Many in the crowd were too young even to have seen original bass player Billl Wyman play with the band. He left in 1993. Others had clearly grown up with the Stones.

Richard Thomas, from Odiham, Hampshire, was in Hyde Park in 1969 for that famous gig - though he admitted he did not see much last time.

Mr Thomas, celebrating his 63rd birthday with his wife Debbie, said: "It was all about being there. There were five times more people there than today - but today feels like the closest thing to the Sixties than anything I've experienced since 1969. "Sadly, all the people I came with that day in 1969 are now dead, but it was a great experience at the time - the day before my 18th birthday.

The Stones were topping the bill on the second day of a new festival, Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time, which also features Elton John and JLS. They play two shows at Hyde Park, the second next Saturday, and both will be filmed and recorded. It is thought the sound recordings will go on to be sold through the iTunes store, while footage is expected to form a future DVD release.

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