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Rolling Stones San Siro, Milan

Written by on June 24, 2022

The San Siro stadium in Milan is hosting the Italian show of the Rolling Stones ‘Sixty tour’, named thus; well,we all know why. Sadly without the dear late Charlie Watts, it’s Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood (only 47 years is Ron) who have taken to the road yet again, as ever ably helped by band stalwarts, Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Darryl Jones (bass), Steve Jordan gallantly picking up Charlie’s sticks.

Hanging around the stadium on this hot summer’s night, I realised that what maybe even bigger than the band themselves, is the classic tongue and lips logo. It is everywhere! As the crowd demographic seems to be from about 10-80, there are not just thousands of old t-shirts with the classic logo, but incredibly it’s the new merchandise in its every possible guise, that is on display, just about everywhere. The logo is the ultimate image of rock’n’roll, the most universal language of the plane, and I think that this iconic logo will even outlive the band.

The stadium is starting to fill up as the support band, Ghost Hounds take to the stage. A classic American modern rockabilly blues outfit able to energise the crowd, performing a particularly good cover of Cliff’s ‘Devil Woman’ alla Bad Company.

Come 21.15 pictures of Charlie are projected on the big screens. So cool and debonair whether aged 20 or 70. The band then come on and Keef starts proceedings with the opening riff from ‘Street Fighting Man’. Previously to the Milan show, 2 gigs had to be postponed as Mick contracted Covid so there was some conjecture as to what “Jagger” would be performing. As it turns out it was the one from Live Aid days when he and David Bowie were ‘Dancing in the Streets’. How he moves his hips, his sheer force of nature, his commanding vocals and brilliant harmonica playing is still mesmerising to me. Mick is unreal.

The stage show no longer has inflatable penises or scanty clad dancers, just one central catwalk that Mick uses to dance and skip along on during the show. Backing singers, a horn section are also on stage, the band wearing very colourful outfits with lots of glitter, stripes and wave patterns and there is a whole joie de vivre vibe to the stage set up.

You think this is going to be one big nostalgia trip: Mick and Keef to rock’n’roll as is John The Baptist to Jesus: May they give their blessing to keep spreading the word. But it doesn’t seem like that at all to be honest. There are no let ups, no reminiscing, no tears, no goodbyes. It’s all energy, drive and fun on stage and the Italian crowd is up for it. As opposed to doing a 36 song set as Macca is doing on his summer tour, theirs is a 17 song setlist but this is because they choose to give time out so as to cajole the crowd, to allow extended band interaction and especially so as to vary the groove. Gospel, soul and blues elements are allowed to pervade the songs, taking them and us back to a black musical world the Stones know so well and love.

Highlights are many. The sheer weight and brilliance of the songs ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ still surprise; the guitar interplay between Ron and Keith with Mick’s brilliant harmonica on ìMidnight Rambler’; Mick getting the whole of San Siro to sing ‘Out Of Time’; the images of Charlie Watts( indeed my only fault with the band is that Steve Jordan is more rock than Charlie’s lean groove so the dynamics suffer on the quieter songs) and Mick’s tender thoughts on Charlie, a simply joyous ‘Sympathy For The Devil’.

If you are going to one of the ‘Sixty Tour’ shows thinking this would be some kind of swan song, as indeed I did, then think again. No goodbye’s from Mick and the gang. Absurdly, I would even hazard to say, that ‘Seventy’ may well be a tour yet.

Setlist:

1 Street Fighting Man
2. 19Th Nervous Breakdown
3. Tumbling Dice
4. Out Of Time
5. Dead Flowers
6. Wild Horses
7. Can’t Always Get
8. Ghost Town
9. Honky Tonk Women
10. You Got The Silver (Kr)
11. Connection (Kr)
12. Miss You
13. Midnight Rambler
14. Start Me Up
15. Paint It Black
16. Sympathy
17. Jj Flash


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