‘There’s no place quite like this country at this time of the year’ Mick said to the Hyde Park crowd half way into the Stones’ gig. And he should know, he’s 70 this week and he’s been around. ‘Was anyone else here in 1969 for the last one?’ he shouted. A gentle roar went up from the crush that was front of the park stage for the first time in 44 years to see them in their altogether. ‘Well, welcome back, nice to see you again!’ A delicate touch Mick – but then this was full of delicate touches and so subtle that you didn’t even realise you were there, witnessing what you were witnessing. ‘I’m loving this set they’ve given us’ he continued. ‘It’s like a cross between Wimbledon and a pantomime.
Last night at leaving drinks, I checked the Juanometer. ‘Do you think we should get there for 12pm when the gates open, or leave it until a bit later – like 5pm? I know you’re going to have the right solution – you always do’ I said to my soon to be ex-colleague just departing to explore other territories and work opportunities. ‘Well, how much do you like them? If you really love them, then yes, you need to be there at 12. For me personally if Coldplay were performing I’d be there before the gates opened’. I thought about that. ‘You’re right as usual. I do like the Stones, but you’ve given me the answer’.
I texted Foxy. ‘It’s going to be scorchio tomorrow, let’s meet at 4?’ She agreed and it was settled.
As usual on an outing of this nature and significance, Foxy and I try to get a decent view. ‘Just keep walking.’ I said as we immersed ourselves in a crowd where the average age was 50 and remants of the 60’s were all around us in one form or another. ‘Where are people getting all this beer? I think I’d better go and look for food and drink before things start getting serious’.
Heading backwards into the fray again I found myself perusing the food stalls. Queues were aplenty and the beer tents were at least 20 people deep in front. I headed back to the main gate and fought my way to the bar to get a couple of drinks. Armed with those I queued for food – and half an hour later found myself with two haloumi foccacias in hand ready to find my friend again.
Back at the main stage, the crowd had shifted forward. The sun was beginning to set and the familiar chords of ‘Start me up’ blasted out.
There are no words really. Well, maybe a few: Brilliant, professional, slick. But the main one is ‘innate’. Seeing The Stones is not like seeing any other band. Viewing them like another would be to deny what really is pure DNA – for both them and us. The songs and this band are in your blood, an intrinsic feature of the landscape that is your life. Seeing them made flesh as it were, in front of your very eyes, is believing but unbelievable at the same time.
When the unmistakeable first few notes of ‘Satisfaction’ rang out in the encore, Keith smiled his white rakish grin, Mick continued to prance around in his gold lame shirt singing without a note out of place, Ronnie showed us what muscles were made of, and Charlie – steadfast Charlie – delivered the drums. Just as it should be, just as we know it is.