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It’s Jagger’s show throughout, and while it’s hard not to be fascinated by the spectacle, it’s difficult to enjoy the music.
One might expect worse from the 1981 tour, by which time the Stones were in civil war, with the Glimmer Twins at loggerheads and Wood sunk into freebase hell.
The case for punk rock – then in its birth throes in New York and London – is right there.
There’s not a loon pant in sight, nor, on this occasion, the ‘cherrypicker’ lift Keith hated.
In the business of repackaging their past, the Stones have been laggards compared to peers like Bob Dylan or The Who, acts seemingly intent on releasing every last demo and alt. Only comparatively recently have ‘deluxe editions’ of the Stones’ classic albums started to flow.
Since the reputation of ‘The Worlds’ Greatest Rock and Roll Band’ rests as much on performance as on studio output, live shows are an obvious route to enforce (and monetise) their mythos, and the two here, from 19 respectively, have previously been available as sound-only downloads from the group’s website.
Loaded on verboten powders, musically directionless, smarting from the exit of Mick Taylor, they spend much of their two and a half hours onstage in a leaden chug through numbers that on record had light and shade.
“You Can’t Aways get What You Want” is formless, “Starfucker” routine, “Angie” and “Wild Horses” even drearier than on disc. “Keith’s gonna sing ‘Happy’,” drawls Jagger, except Keith can’t, and has quickly to be rescued by Mick.Even a mid-set excursion into old-school soul – “Just My Imagination”, ‘Going To A Go Go” segues comfortably into the set.That the Stones look and sound like a band comfortable with their past and confident with their present – Tattoo You was astride the global charts after all – would prove illusory.He upstages Jagger, who while clearly exhausted has just enough juice left for what was the tour’s penultimate date.