Smoke and mirrors: It’s NOT only rock ‘n’ roll and I don’t like it.

Well you can dream! I really thought the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury were going to be special. In fact, despite the endless reviews claiming it to be one of the greatest live shows ever, it was actually something of a disappointment.

Yes OK, I know that it was probably an amazing experience if you witnessed it live but it actually wasn’t the concert it could have been. It was certainly a grand production but at times the music was patchy and poorly paced, the vocals were haphazard and Keith Richards – once universally acknowledged as the coolest man on the planet – looked like Andy Capp in a borrowed bandana. Unfortunately his reinvention as a pot-bellied granddad in skinny jeans seems to have coincided with a noticeable decline in his guitar playing. We’ll put it down to a bad night but frankly it looks like the turning of the tide to me.

Jagger – the Face of Bo on a 20-year-old’s body – remains magnificently grand and theatrical. He looks like an aging ballet dancer, strutting the stage with such attitude that even his little knock-kneed girly skitters look profound. But it’s all veneer, physically impressive but basically all part of the smoke and mirrors that create the spectacle that is the Rolling Stones.

I want to see a blues and R&B band and, though I know they can still do it if they try, all is lost  beneath the demands of the massive multi-million pound business machine that drives this juggernaut of a band ever onwards. We read reports about Sir Mick bickering behind the scenes over payments for TV rights. Even if that’s true, which I somehow doubt, it’s not only rock ‘n’ roll and I don’t like it.

You can’t turn back the clock but the fact is The Stones were at their best as live stage performers between 1969 and 1972. My dream gig would have the energy, power and superb menace of those years combined with the technology of today. Now that would be something! Glastonbury may have been theatrical and fun (and pretty awful on television) but it was not even close to the super-gig  that I keep reading about.

Oh yes and while I’m at it…  I felt the Mick Jagger interview with John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme  was an excruciating embarrassment. Talk about the wrong man for the job! Humphrys – the Beeb’s famous attack dog, fearless interrogator of politicians, deposer of director generals  – sounded like a star-struck fan and failed to ask anything of interest about the band or its music.

Author: Jeremy Miles

Writer, journalist, photographer, arts and theatre critic and occasional art historian.

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