Mick Jagger recently said rock’n’roll “isn’t supposed to be done in your 70s”, but he seems determined to prove this wrong. While Abba have returned as digital avatars of their young selves, the Stones’ frontman is his own living, breathing Jagger-tar. He turns 79 next month and has a replacement heart valve but sustains the stage energy of someone several decades younger. Alongside him, fellow grinning septuagenarians Keith Richards (78) and Ron Wood (75) sway elegantly like ancient trees in a breeze, playing their guitars with a swagger that suggests that time, however improbably, is still on their side.
Well, almost. Each show on this 60th-anniversary tour opens with a tribute to Charlie Watts, whose death aged 80 last year was a reminder that even Rolling Stones are mortal. Watts’s approved successor, American drummer Steve Jordan, is merely 65. He plays on the beat rather than behind it, but brings his own fills to Tumbling Dice and has clearly accustomed himself to the peculiarities of anchoring the Stones’ wayward, ramshackle glory and a catalogue brimming with copper-bottomed classics.
Brown Sugar, their second-most performed song ever, was recently retired – its references to slavery and sexuality proving too controversial for the modern era – but a stellar setlist stretches from 1963’s Lennon and McCartney-penned single I Wanna Be Your Man (“Since we’re in Liverpool …”, drawls Jagger) to the 2020 reggae-tinged lockdown single, Living in a Ghost Town.
There’s a punchy Street Fighting Man; 19th Nervous Breakdown and Get Off My Cloud are kinetic. Out of Time – the 1966 song never performed before this tour – and a hymn-like You Can’t Always Get What You Want start the first of many singalongs. It’s not just the songs, though, it’s the delivery: Jagger’s voice is stadium-strong and the guitars cut through with a raw power usually polished out of gigs this size.
“It’s great to see you. It’s great to see anybody,” jokes the indestructible Richards, while Jagger quips about visiting local landmarks: hugging Cilla Black’s statue was “closer than I ever got in real life!” After bassist Darryl Jones brings the funk to Miss You, dusk descends and the stage glows red for Paint It Black and Sympathy for the Devil, brilliantly unsettling songs that acknowledge the darkness like nothing else in rock.
Then it’s into Gimme Shelter as images of bombed Ukraine remind us that war currently is “just a shot away”. As the clock passes the two-hour mark, Jagger is still Jumping Jack Flash incarnate, tearing into Satisfaction, a song he once said he didn’t want to be singing when he was 30.
They’re deep into uncharted territory now. No other band has rocked this hard for this long, but an Anfield roar of You’ll Never Walk Alone goes up to honour a group who are clearly still worthy of the title of the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world.