* Rolling Stones kick off mini-tour
* Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor join quartet on stage
* Mick Jagger jokes with fans over ticket prices
* Early reviews for show positive
(Writes through with full concert)
LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - 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.
Before a packed crowd of 20,000 at London's O2 Arena, they
banished doubts that age may have slowed down one of the world's
greatest rock and roll bands, as lead singer Mick Jagger
launched into "I Wanna Be Your Man".
More than two hours of high-octane, blues-infused rock
later, and they were still going strong with an impressive
encore comprising "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and
"Jumpin' Jack Flash".
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 miles 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
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.
There has been a photo album, two new songs, a music video,
a documentary film, a blitz of media appearances and a handful
of warm-up gigs in Paris.
"STYLE AND PANACHE"
The reunion nearly did not happen. One factor behind the
long break since their record-breaking "A Bigger Bang" tour in
2007 has been Wood's struggle with alcohol addiction, while
Jagger and Richards also fell out over comments the guitarist
made about the singer in a 2010 autobiography.
But they eventually buried the hatchet, and Richards joked
in a recent interview: "We can't get divorced - we're doing it
for the kids!"
Critics were fulsome in their praise of the first comeback
"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. The Stones
sang their two new tracks "Doom and Gloom" and "One More Shot",
which appeared on their latest greatest hits album "GRRR!".
Richards has hinted that the five concerts ending at the
Newark Prudential Center in the United States on Dec. 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 band has come in for criticism from fans about the high
price of tickets to the shows - they ranged from around 95
pounds ($150) to up to 950 pounds for a VIP seat.
The flamboyant veterans, whose average age is 68, have
defended the costs, saying the shows were expensive to put on,
although specialist music publication Billboard reported the
band would earn $25 million from the four shows initially
announced. A fifth was added later.
"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."
Among the biggest cheers on the night were for classics
including "Wild Horses", "It's Only Rock and Roll" and "Start Me
There was even time for the odd reference to their advancing
"Good to see you all," said Richards with a mischievous
grin. "Good to see anybody."
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)