With Beyonce and Jay-Z hosting their own stadium show in Glasgow on the same evening, there was something of a clash of generational voices on both sides of Scotland on Saturday evening; and, with each of the band’s core members now into their seventies, it felt in advance that the question of who is more relevant in 2018 would be conceded as a no-contest from the Stones’ perspective.
Music review: The Rolling Stones, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh ****
Yet what unfolded on stage at Murrayfield – with the entire vaulting backdrop composed of huge LCD screens which projected detailed and unflinching close-ups of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts’ performances – was something which perhaps even their most ardent fans hadn’t expected. On one level, of course, it was probably the greatest nostalgia show on earth, with the band marshalling a slew of hits which began with the lyrically appropriate Start Me Up and Let’s Spend the Night Together, and concluded amid the evergreen tension and energy of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Brown Sugar and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
On another plane, the two hour show was a communion with the Stones’ most die-hard fans, offering up Keith Richards’ crackly vocal on the exuberant Happy, Darryl Jones’ thrilling disco bassline underpinning Miss You and Jagger’s reminiscences of playing the Barrowlands before a blues-soaked cover of Eddie Taylor’s Ride ‘Em On Down (“I hope we do better than the last English guys who played Murrayfield,” the singer laughed elsewhere).
Yet where this show succeeded in the most unexpected way was as a testament to continuing expertise, professionalism and enthusiasm in old age. The Rolling Stones have not remained trapped in amber since 1981; they’re old geezers, no question, but ageing doesn’t look like such a chore having seen them play.