REFILE-Rolling Stones give satisfaction despite high prices

Mike Collett-White
Reuters Middle East

(Fixes typo in headline)

* Rolling Stones play first gig in more than five years

* Critics give strong reviews for first of five concerts

* Mick Jagger seeks to laugh off ticket price criticism

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones pranced,

swaggered and laughed through the first of five concerts,

celebrating their golden jubilee with a performance that critics

said put paid to questions over ticket costs.

Virtually every reviewer at the first of two shows in

London's O2 Arena on Sunday night mentioned the controversy over

high prices, but almost all of them said it was worth it.

The two-and-a-half hour set by one of the biggest acts in

rock and roll history took a crowd of 20,000 on a trip down

memory lane, opening with the 1963 "I Wanna Be Your Man" hit

penned by 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

"Gimme Shelter", "Wild Horses", "Honky Tonk Women" to "Start Me

Up" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" rocking the crowd.

The one surprising omission was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".

And, while the lines on their faces traced their advancing

years and long careers of rock and roll hedonism, lead singer

Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts on drums and Keith Richards and

Ronnie Wood on guitar still delivered the goods.

"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.

Jagger, whose lithe frame still allows for some of the

trademark swagger at 69, sought to laugh off criticism of prices

ranging from 95-950 pounds ($1,500) for a VIP seat.

"Everybody all right there in the cheap seats?" he asked as

he looked up high to his left. "They're not really cheap though

are they? That's the trouble."

The flamboyant veterans have defended the costs, saying the

shows were expensive to put on. But specialist music publication

Billboard reported the band would earn $25 million from the four

shows initially announced. A fifth was added later.


The commercial side of the first Stones gigs for more than

five years clearly rankled some.

The band which first hit the stage in July, 1962 at the

Marquee Club on London's Oxford Street has issued a photo book,

another greatest hits album and a documentary film to mark 50

years in business.

"There's something perversely admirable about the way the

self-styled 'greatest rock'n'roll band in the world' seem openly

intent on celebrating their golden jubilee by making as much

money as possible with the absolute minimum of effort," wrote

Alexis Petridis in the Guardian.

Yet he gave the performance four stars out of five as did

Andy Gill of the Independent, who singled out some of the guest

appearances for praise.

Mary J. Blige added fireworks to her duet with Jagger in

"Gimme Shelter", while Jeff Beck provided the power chords for

"I'm Going Down".

But the biggest cheers were reserved for two former band

members. Bill Wyman played "It's Only Rock'n'Roll" and "Honky

Tonk Women", while Mick Taylor, who left the band in 1974 to be

replaced by Wood, revelled in his chance to shine during

"Midnight Rambler".

"Taylor can still play like a silver streak and the

time-shifting blues jam of Midnight Rambler was incredible to

behold, with Jagger as harp blowing blues conductor and three

guitars tripping in and out of each other's space to hypnotic

effect," wrote Neil McCormick in the Daily Telegraph.

In the critics' minds, the Stones have set the bar high for

the next four performances - one more at the O2 Arena and three

in the United States ending at the Newark Prudential Center on

Dec. 15.

The big question for fans, however, is where it all leads -

a five-concert reunion and greatest hits record to celebrate 50

years, or a world tour and an album of more new material.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)

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