A bucket list gig this one for me being a Stones fan of many years standing but having never seen them on stage.
What an absolute blinding decision to have much loved Coventry stars The Specials as support and hats off to who made the call and of course they went down a storm and even I felt a chill down my spine as the ska with attitude anthem ‘Gangsters' kicked in to gear.
'A Message To You Rudy' had the crowd dancing to the cool reggae rhythm and I loved the energy of both ‘Rat Race' and my personal favourite their magnificent cover of ‘Monkey Man'.
They closed with one of their biggest hits ‘Too Much Too Young' to a fantastic reception and I quite understand why they left the classic Ghost Town out of the set and as it would possibly not fit in with the feeling of celebration present in the air at this major Coventry musical event.
Loved seeing Terry Hall on the big screens bringing back memories of serving him cups of tea when I worked at Cov railway station in the early 80's and also great to see Horace Panter having a ball at such a big show after being so impressed by his bass work playing alongside Steve Walwyn several times over the last couple of years.
Stones time and you could feel the electricity in the stadium before they walked on stage and opened with one of their most raucous rockers ‘Street Fighting Man', and the onslaught was relentless for the next three ‘It's Only Rock 'N' Roll', ‘Tumbling Dice' and ‘Paint It Black'.
For many years I have believed that the Stones just seem to get better and better and for me this was the proof of the pudding, that wonderful distinctive swagger and groove, the amazing understanding and interaction of guitar legends Keith and Ronnie, the cool as a cucumber drum work of Mr Watts and last but by no means least Mick Jagger a snake hipped marvel with such energy and work rate, add to this an outstanding bunch of extra musicians, a well thought out stage design, a huge crystal clear back screen set up and spot on sound quality and this was just about as good as live rock and roll gets.
Back to the set list which was pretty full of greatest hits with a few possibly on the surprise side but just as welcome.
Other out and out classics included a full of groove ‘Honky Tonk Women', and pulsating rockers ‘Start Me Up', ‘Jumpin' Jack Flash' and ‘Brown Sugar' the last two even got me a complete non dancer trying a few moves (not a pretty sight !).
A special mention for the drama and spectacle of the mighty ‘Sympathy For The Devil' complete of course with plenty of woo woos from the crowd and menacing fire-red back screen patterns.
Two birthdays for the band during the their couple of days in Coventry both announced by Mick and celebrated by the audience, Ronnie's the day before the show and Charlie Watts on show day itself and he looked quite overwhelmed when he made his way from his drum kit to front of stage to be serenaded by many thousands with a rendition of Happy Birthday To You.
The main surprises in the set were of the trad blues and country kind, the former one of the standouts from the bands latest retro-blues studio album Blue and Lonesome Jimmy Reed's ‘Ride ‘Em On Down' and the latter the classic happy go lucky sound of ‘Dead Flowers' (words not so happy though) and maybe the disco/rock beat of ‘Miss You' may have been classed as a surprise as well but really got the crowd moving.
Two numbers had Mr. Richards on vocals to give Mick a much deserved rest ‘You Got The Silver' and the exuberant ‘Happy' and there was an audience vote which choose Dylan penned ‘Like A Rolling Stone' from a shortlist of numbers.
Encores and a couple of killers, first up with that iconic intro and the incredible vocals of the bands female vocalist Sasha a storming ‘Gimme Shelter' and what else to close (there can be only one) but a total celebration with ‘(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'.
An incredible show never not to be forgotten.

Andrew Lock


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