Glass reviews The Rolling Stones at BST Hyde Park

“THIS is our fifth time headlining Hyde Park. The first time round you could get in for free!” proclaims Mick Jagger with a cheeky grim.

He’s referring the legendary ‘Stones in the Park’ gig of 1969, in which an estimated half a million people crammed into the iconic London venue to see one of the biggest rock bands of all time at the height of their powers.

The Stones in the Park concert in 1969

Times may have changed, but the band’s enduring power lives on in 2022. On a fittingly beautiful summer’s day, the park is flooded by Stones fans young and old – with excitement for the main event emanating from each of the plentiful bars and food pop-ups that surround BST Hyde Park’s ‘Great Oak’ Stage.

It’s not easy opening an event of this magnitude, but Geordie singer-songwriter Sam Fender is more than up to the task. Coming fresh off a rapturously-received headline slot at Glastonbury, he rips through choice cuts from his second album Seventeen Going Under – including the poignant ode to his father Spit Of You and the anthemic Get You Down.

His music comes straight out of the Springsteen playbook and provides perfect warm-up for the main event.

An anxious wait ensues, with the atmosphere reaching a fever pitch once the iconic figures of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards arrive on stage. Flanked by long-term guitarist Ronnie Wood and an extensive live band, they launch into an opening foray of classic cuts – including 1972’s Tumbling Dice and fan favourite Angie.

There are sing-a-longs aplenty throughout the early proceedings. You Can’t Always Get What You Want is defiantly belted out by the 80,000 strong crowd, while a rare cover of Bob Dylan’s ode to the band ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ catches everyone off guard.

It would be remiss not to mention that Jagger is no doubt grateful for the audience participation – his voice certainly lacks the same power it once held, and he struggles through cuts like Paint It Black and Honky Tonk Women that require him to do more of the heavy lifting. He allows himself a short break for Richards to take over the lead vocals, whose intimate, soulful delivery on ‘You Got The Silver’ and Happy acts as a nice mid-set change of pace.

The show culminates in a predictably thrilling finale. You can’t go wrong with songs as powerful as Gimme Shelter, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Sympathy for the Devil, and each brings a triumphant roar from the audience who clamber onto each other’s shoulders and throw their arms aloft. It’s a strict 10:30pm curfew, but there’s just enough time for Richards to launch into the iconic opening riff of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ to bring the night to a close.

Celebrating their 60th anniversary, it is hardly unsurprising that the Rolling Stones do show signs for their age – but their ability to play shows of this nature well into their senior years is not something that should be sniffed at.

They might not be doing this for free anymore, but tonight’s show was undoubtedly worth the price of admission.

by Daniel Jeakins
Feature photo credit: Louise Morris