The Rolling Stones Live @ Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (UK) - 29th August 2006

An influence on Glitzine approved bands right across the world from Aerosmith to the Dogs D'Amour via The Crybabys and Diamond Dogs, The Rolling Stones have long since passed mortal status. They to me always seem larger than life, giants amongst men perhaps, maybe even an institution.

But, being a Rock N Roll institution should never mean that you have the right to charge the obscene prices that have been charged on this the "ironically?" titled Bigger Bang Tour, Bigger Buck more like. I mean £180 to sit on a football pitch, your having a giraffe Jagger. I hardly think they need the money do they?

So, it had been 16 years since I last saw the Stones (twice in 1990 at Wembley and Cardiff Arms Park, fact fans) and the audience (self included) not unlike the band has changed considerably.
But with the stupid ticket prices and the fact that the audience (self not included) would be more prone to attending dinner parties than drug parties, I held out til the last minute before deciding to purchase a ticket. And lo and behold I get a £40 ticket right smack in the middle of the stage, with the only small problem being that the seat was at an altitude more fitting to Saint Bernard dogs and Sherpa Tensing.

On arriving at the Millennium Stadium, it was hard to work out if this was the yearly Jehovah Witness convention the stadium holds or in fact a Rock N Roll show. Straight out of the plastic bag T shirts were nicely tucked inside the ironed jeans and Farah slacks and people were readily queuing for £2.50 pasties and £1 Mars bars.

"Oh well just enough time to stay out of earshot of support band for the night, the simply awful "Kooks".

With all these factors stacking up against this being a good night, and after relieving myself of my stadium supplied crampons and oxygen mask, I finally managed to take my seat just in time for lift off. I say lift off as the show that followed was a bit like a pyrotechnic rocket up the collective asses of everyone in the stadium and Captain 2000 Man Mick Jagger was firmly at the helm, setting the controls for planet Rock N Roll with a stunning opening couplet of "Jumpin Jack Flash" and "It's Only Rock N Roll".

From here on in it was obvious that previous tour poppier sets were not the order of the day and songs such as "Lets Spend The Night Together", "Midnight Rambler", "Miss You" " Start Me Up" and the rather striking new rocker "Rough Justice" simply lit the touch paper for the explosions that followed on and off stage via the great pyro and light show. The fact that whole show had a rather strange intimate vibe despite being in a cavernous stadium, must be credit to the production staff and the idea of the moving stage (this traversed the whole length of the stadium so everyone got a piece of the band mid show) not only brought the show closer to us in the cheap seats, but reinforced the tightness of the musical force that sits at the heart of this band, with the musicians rejoicing in the nearness of the crowd.

Keef gets his usual two-song interlude in the middle of the set, but before most of the crowd have time for a quick Jimmy, Jagger returns to run around like a man half his age, Ronnie and Charlie still hold everything together with new-ish bassist Darrel Jones and Chuck Leavell (he of Black Crowes first CD fame) lays some mean honkey tonk piano right throughout this show.

Played as simply as possible, classic followed classic, from "Honkey Tonk Women" to "Tumblin Dice" and "Sympathy For The Devil" to "Paint It Black".
With the main set closing with "Brown Sugar" I thought it could get no better, but first encore is "You Can't Always Get What You Want" segueing into "Satisfaction" cue pyro and light show overload galore again and it's all over, house lights are up and I'm left with my jaw firmly placed on the ground.

This is exactly how stadium rock should be delivered. It does help that when the Rolling Stones are good they are this good, but for all my doubts I definitely got my moneys worth tonight. Just pity the poor mites who paid £150+ and ended up watching video screens due to the moving stage…Oh stop it my sides are aching.

Footnote for Mr Axl Rose,
Mr Axl sir, haven't recently witnessed your recent awful Download performance, you could learn a lot from the current Rolling Stones show on how to deliver quality Rock N Roll with only 5 people on stage, watch and weep.

by Johnny H.

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