Rock bands of the 60s and 70s became the world’s first real mega stars. Television and radio broadcast them to the masses and made them appear God-like deities who were untouchable to human hands.
The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones are all examples of this massive success, which hasn’t really been achieved since.
Although there is more money around music than ever before, the accessibility has made the followings of individual bands and artists smaller.
There is one band that has unmatched success, they still sell out tours and have managed to survive with (more or less) the original line up.
The Rolling Stones are an eternal part of the spirit of British music. They are arguably the most successful example from the UK to truly tap into what was an American sound and make a career out of it.
Although The Beatles may have begun with the Rock’n’Roll/Blues sound, what they ended on was a new and very experimental genre they themselves created.
The Stones went through several phases of development from a teenage cover band to world-renowned superstars, but they stayed in the same neck of the woods in terms of their sound.
The rock and revolution aspect is a constant with The Rolling Stones; there was not stylistic change, only development. They managed to make Rock’n’Roll sound like a British invention, which still appealed to American markets.
They brought something new to the table that would go on to influence the Punk bands to be.
Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts celebrated their 50th anniversary as a band back in 2008. Now a 60-year-old band, they have recently announced the ‘No Filter’ Tour’s arrival in the UK, as well as some additional dates in Europe.
I was lucky enough to see this tour last year in Amsterdam, and I cannot recommend this bucket list experience enough.
Having always had a taste for timelessness, The Stones have been on my playlist since my early teens. They wrote the anthems that accompanied arguments with my mother and played the riffs that marched me into school.
Veterans of a time long gone, are not people you expect to see live in the age of Instagram.
The tour shows two things about the band, one is they are masters of their work. Watching The Stones perform was like watching an expert potter, guide the clay and create a shape with a dancer’s grace. The quality of their sound, demeanour and animation is second to none; and showcases over 60 years of experience on some of the world’s biggest stages.
Mick Jagger is Mick Jagger, and will always be Mick Jagger. He is exhausting to watch, the fitness required to keep up that level of energy for a two-hour show is admirable. He is just as lively now as he was then and still wields a power over the audience.
Ronnie Wood, darts around the stage and performs to different sections of the audience, he makes a display of the careful craft of the electric guitar and pays homage to the hours of work he has put into this instrument.
Keith Richards joins him and the two often come close together and improvise pieces, again an example of seeing experts at work. While younger bands require the self discipline to be prepared, The Rolling Stones have the knowledge, experience and understanding of each other to be able to break the rules.
Richards also performs an incredibly emotional solo during the set and makes witty interactions with the audience throughout. His powerful personality has a massive influence on the overall performance of the band, and his command of the guitar is exceptional.
Charlie Watts is as composed as he was in the early days of the band. The drummer can often be the most unappreciated by the audience. Perhaps this is because they are difficult to listen to on their own, whereas guitars and even bass can have a comfortable place by themselves.
Listening to earlier recordings of the drums on their records and comparing them to the performances on the ‘No Filter’ Tour, one can easily distinguish, not only the different stages of the sound of The Stones, but the development of the skill of drumming.
Watts comes from a Jazz background and brought a delicate approach to drums to Rock’n’Roll music. While many bands of the time opted for massive kits and the smashing of symbols, Watts developed a very slight and delicate art of rock drumming with jazz inflictions.
The second thing, which they show on this tour, is you are as young as you choose to be. The energy and movement I saw in Amsterdam was far superior to anything I have seen before, comparable only perhaps to John Newman at the Isle of Wight festival in 2014.
Most people reading this article will have at some stage owned a Rolling Stones T-shirt, or a Stones themed piece of merchandise.
There is no denying that they shook the world and while they may not be making headlines in the tabloids anymore they are a rare glimpse of years of nurturing a skill. Most people will not have had a working life as long as The Rolling Stones so to see human beings achieve this level of expertise is virtually unheard of. If you can get hold of tickets, I really cannot recommend it enough. The atmosphere and energy was an unforgettable experience and I really look forward to hearing about the reception of ‘No Filter’ on home turf.
There is no way you could write everything about this band in one blog, if you would like to know more about the history I would strongly recommend the book ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by Paul Trynka or simply research online, there are some fantastic documentaries about the band available on youtube.
“The Beatles had eternal charm, but The Rolling Stones had eternal edge.”
May 17 – Croke Park, Dublin*
May 22 – London Stadium, London
Jun 05 – Old Trafford Football Stadium, Manchester
Jun 09 – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Jun 15 – Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Jun 19 – Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham
Jun 22 – Olympiastadion, Berlin
Jun 26 – Orange Velodrome, Marseille
Jun 30 – Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart
Jul 04 – Letnany Airport, Prague
Jul 08 – PGE Narodowy Stadium, Warsaw