mick Jagger recently said that rock’n’roll “isn’t supposed to be in your 70s,” but he seems determined to prove it wrong. While Abba has returned as digital avatars of their young selves, the Stones frontman is his own living, breathing Jagger-tar. He turns 79 next month and has a replacement heart valve, but retains the stage energy of someone decades younger. Beside him, fellow grinning septuagenarians Keith Richards (78) and Ron Wood (75) gracefully sway like old trees in a breeze, playing their guitars with a swagger that suggests that time, however improbable, is still on their side.
Well almost. Each show on this 60-year tour begins with a tribute to Charlie Watts, whose death last year at age 80 was a reminder that even Rolling Stones are mortal. Watts’ approved successor, American drummer Steve Jordan, is only 65 years old. He plays to the beat rather than behind it, but brings his own take to Tumbling Dice and is clearly used to the quirks of anchoring the quirky, rickety glory and a catalog brimming with copper-bottomed classics.
Brown Sugar, their second most performed song ever, has recently been retired — the references to slavery and sexuality prove too controversial for the modern age — but a stellar setlist stretches from the Lennon and McCartney-penned single I Wanna Be Your Man from 1963 (“Since we’re in Liverpool…,” laments Jagger) to the 2020 reggae-tinged lockdown single, Living in a Ghost Town.
There’s a spirited Street Fighting Man; 19th Nervous Breakdown and Get Off My Cloud are kinetic. Out of Time—the 1966 song never performed for this tour—and a hymn-like You Can’t Always Get What You Want kick off the first of many sing-alongs. It’s not just the songs though, it’s the delivery: Jagger’s voice is stadium-strong and the guitars cut through with a raw power that is usually polished off at gigs of this size.
“It’s good to see you. It’s great to see someone,” jokes the indestructible Richards, while Jagger jokes about visiting local attractions: hugging the statue of Cilla Black was “closer than I’ve ever been in real life came!” After bassist Darryl Jones brings the funk to Miss You, dusk descends and the stage glows red for Paint It Black and Sympathy for the Devil, brilliantly disturbing tracks that recognize darkness like nothing else in rock.
Then it’s in Gimme Shelter as images of bombed Ukraine remind us that war is currently “just a shot away”. As the clock ticks past two, Jagger is still the Jumping Jack Flash incarnate and rips into Satisfaction, a song he once said he didn’t want to sing when he was 30.
They are now deep in uncharted territory. No other band has rocked so hard for so long, but an Anfield roar of You’ll Never Walk Alone takes off in honor of a group clearly still worthy of the title of the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world .