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Giving it one more shot

The Rolling Stones turned back the clock in style on Sunday with their first concert in five years, strutting and swaggering their way through hit after familiar hit to celebrate 50 years in business. Their performance put paid to questions over ticket costs.

It took us 50 years to get from Dartford to Greenwich! But you know, we made it

The two-and-a-half-hour concert took a crowd of 20,000 at London’s O2 Arena on a trip down memory lane, opening with the 1963 I Wanna Be Your Man, a hit penned by The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney, right up to Doom and Gloom which is only a few weeks old.

The rest of the 23-song setlist was classic Stones – from Wild Horses, Honky Tonk Women to Start Me Up and You Can't Always Get What You Want. The one surprising omission was (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.

In between there were guest appearances from American R&B singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige, who delivered a rousing duet with Jagger on Gimme Shelter and guitarist Jeff Beck who provided the power chords for I’m Going Down.

Former Rolling Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor were also back in the fold, performing with the regular quartet of Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards on guitar and Charlie Watts on drums for the first time in 20 years.

“It took us 50 years to get from Dartford to Greenwich!” said Jagger, referring to their roots just a few kilometres from the venue in southeast London. “But you know, we made it. What’s even more amazing is that you’re still coming to see us...we can’t thank you enough.”

The Sunday night gig was the first of two at the O2 Arena before the band crosses the Atlantic to play three dates in the US.

The mini-tour is the culmination of a busy few months of events, rehearsals and recordings to mark 50 years since the rockers first took to the stage at the Marquee Club on London’s Oxford Street in July, 1962.

The band has come in for criticism from fans about the high price of tickets to the shows – they ranged from around £95 (€117) to up to £950 (€1,174) for a VIP seat.

“Everybody all right there in the cheap seats,” Jagger asked pointedly as he looked high to his left at the arena. “They’re not really cheap though are they? That’s the trouble.”

Critics were fulsome in their praise of the first comeback gig, saying the price was worth it.

“As Jagger left the stage, still jogging and shaking his maracas after two and a half hours and 23 songs, it was clear that even at these ticket prices, the Stones’ 50th anniversary shows deliver value for money,” wrote Mark Sutherland in a review for the Rolling Stone music magazine.

“Keith Richards has said that the beauty of rock and roll is that every night a different band might be the world’s greatest. Well, last night at the O2 Arena, it was the turn of the Rolling Stones themselves to lay claim to the title they invented,” wrote Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph.“And they did it with some style and panache.”

The big question on every fan’s lips is whether the five concerts lead to a world tour and even new material.

Richards has hinted that the five concerts ending at the Newark Prudential Centre in the US on December 15 would not be the last.

“Once the juggernaut starts rolling, it ain’t gonna stop,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “So without sort of saying definitely yes – yeah. We ain’t doing all this for four gigs!”

The full set list

1. I Wanna Be Your Man
2. Get Off of My Cloud
3. It’s All Over Now
4. Paint it Black
5. Gimme Shelter (with Mary J. Blige)
6. Wild Horses
7. All Down the Line
8. I’m Going Down (with Jeff Beck)
9. Out of Control
10. One More Shot
11. Doom and Gloom
12. It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (with Bill Wyman)
13. Honky Tonk Women (with Bill Wyman)
14. Before They Make Me Run
15. Happy
16. Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)
17. Miss You
18. Start Me Up
19. Tumbling Dice
20. Brown Sugar
21. Sympathy for the Devil

Encore

1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
2. Jumpin’ Jack Flash

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