Cresting a virtual tidal wave of publicity, the Rolling Stones kicked off their 50 & Counting tour Sunday night in London with a 2 1/2-hour concert that pulled from throughout the band's half-century career and included guest appearances by Mary J. Blige, Jeff Beck and ex-Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor.
Early reviews of the show -- which revisits the O2 Arena on Thursday before heading to Brooklyn and New Jersey next month -- describe a spectacle somewhat smaller than what the group has brought to arenas in the past.
"This was the Stones in the raw," said Rolling Stone, while England's Sun noted that "the band were tight, but rough around the edges." And although the set list ran long on sure-fire hits like "Start Me Up," "Tumbling Dice" and "Sympathy for the Devil," the Guardian insisted there were moments when the show "seem[ed] to be about more than mere nostalgia." (As if to prove it's still hungry, the band skipped "Satisfaction.")
Blige took to the mouth-shaped stage to duet with Mick Jagger on "Gimme Shelter" and Beck contributed guitar to "I'm Going Down." Taylor, who left the Stones in 1974, returned to solo on the blues-rock nugget "Midnight Rambler"; Wyman manned the bass for "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" and "Honky Tonk Women." And Keith Richards stepped into the spotlight to sing "Before They Make Me Run" and "Happy."
Tickets for the gig -- which also contained performances of "Doom and Gloom" and "One More Shot," both new tunes from this month's "GRRR!" compilation -- weren't exactly recession-priced: They cost between 95 and 950 pounds (about $150 to $1,500), according to the Guardian.
But leave it to the Stones to suggest that was someone else's fault. "How's everyone in the cheap seats?" Jagger reportedly asked at one point. "The problem is they're not so cheap!"
Watch a video of clips from the show below.
[For the Record, 9 a.m. Nov. 26: An earlier version of this post misstated the length of the Rolling Stones' career. They have been performing for a half-century.]
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