The Rollings Stones give Glasto a run for its money at BST Festival in Hyde Park
If there was one way to stave off severe FOMO for not being at Glasto this weekend (and provide an antidote to the smug-brag posting flooding Insta) that was to be at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park.
We had it on good authority Elton John gave one of his best – and reportedly one of his last – gigs on the Friday night. Then came Saturday, with more than a little in the way of warm-up from the exceptional Phoebe Bridgers rocking it out till the last with tracks from her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps and 2020’s Punisher, including folk ballad I Know the End. America rockers The War on Drugs proved themselves to be the perfect soundscape for a blustery yet largely sunny afternoon sat on the lawns of the royal parks with a wine or three.
But it was clear most were waiting eagerly for the headline act – and not just any headliner at that. Celebrating a whopping six decades of touring, it was none other than The Rolling Stones, arguably one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands of all time. Anyone worrying they might be too far past their prime for such a gig, or, like many of their generation, no longer have the vocal prowess or energy levels to hold court in the expanse of Hyde Park’s sprawling arena, quickly had their fears allayed.
Telling the crowd, “It’s 60 years to the week we played our first ever show around the corner. Thanks for coming back to see us,” Mick Jagger in particular looked, sounded and moved like every bit the rock star he always was, while charming the pants off each and every audience member with his cockney-edged banter, alongside his songwriting and performing partner-in-crime, Keith Richards, and the inimitable Ronnie Wood.
It’s not hard to see why everyone “wants the moves like Jagger”, as the 78-year-old swung his hips, arms and everything else while continually cavorting across the stage, a pitch-black T-shirt and jeans forming an underlayer to a host of flamboyant shirts and jackets (who said costume changes should just be for the gals?). Between tracks he prompted many a singalong, egging on the crowd: “You ready for a little bit more?”
It was iconic tune after iconic tune as the band tore through 19 of their best-loved numbers, kicking off with Street Fighting Man and 19th Nervous Breakdown, then moving into classics like You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Richards even stepped up to the plate partway through to take up the mic with Slipping Away and Connection.
A moving moment came when Jagger dedicated the gig to the late Charlie Watts, the Stones’ founding drummer, whom he recalled they “met in Wembley in 1962” but sadly died just over a year ago. Another was a reference to the ongoing war in Ukraine, with scenes of devastation playing out on screens behind, as Jagger went into a tete-a-tete with backing singer Sasha Allen on a blistering and emotive rendition of 1969’s Gimme Shelter: “War, children, it’s just a shot away / It’s just a shot away”.
Stunning visuals and the band’s antics playing out across enormous screens helped animate an electric performance. In the latter end of the gig, things kicked up a gear with the moody Paint It Black, the infectious Start Me Up and Sympathy for the Devil, with every attendee providing back-up on the “woo, woo”s.
The utterly explosive set then ended on the mother of all notes: I (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. It’s hard not to feel that bittersweet edge of nostalgia; were our parents right? They just don’t make bands like they used to, do they? Regardless, these veterans of guitar rock have sure still got it.
Photo: Rory Barnes
For further information and future events visit The Rollings Stones’s website here.
Watch the video for the single You Can’t Always Get What You Want here: