70,000 get Sat­is­fac­tion from the Rolling Stones at Croke Park

Irish Independent - - News - Liam Collins

ARCH­BISHOP Thomas Croke and Michael Cu­sack must have been spin­ning in their graves but that didn’t bother the rub­ber-lipped Mick Jag­ger and his age­ing band of Bri­tish rock­ers, the Rolling Stones, when they stormed Croke Park with the open­ing chords of ‘Sym­pa­thy for the Devil’.

Wear­ing a long black and silver coat, Jag­ger and the band hit the stage on the stroke of 8.30pm and had the au­di­ence on their feet from the get-go. With­out a word Jag­ger then launched into ‘Tum­bling Dice’ be­fore man­gling céad míle fáilte in his best Cock­ney ac­cent.

With all their fa­mous swag­ger the Rolling Stones em­barked on a rou­tine of hits with verve and vigour.

One on­looker said they should ded­i­cate their bod­ies to med­i­cal science as Jag­ger and Ron­nie Wood, wear­ing an em­broi­dered jacket with an Ir­ish foot­ball shirt un­der­neath, raced around the stage and into the au­di­ence.

Stones gui­tarist Keith Richards once de­clared: “If you are go­ing to get wasted, then get wasted el­e­gantly.”

A mes­sage that seemed to chime with the crowd who be­gan stream­ing into the historic GAA sta­dium well af­ter the gates opened at 5pm yes­ter­day.

It was all very leisurely and civilised, in stark con­trast to the bad boy im­age of the band when the ma­jor­ity of their au­di­ence were grow­ing up.

So it might not have been a sell-out, but can any­one name a 76-year-old (Char­lie Watts), two 74-year-olds (Jag­ger and Richards) and a mere 70-yearold Wood, who could still carry it off and cre­ate may­hem in the process?

The iconic band were launch­ing the sec­ond leg of their in­ter­na­tional tour in Dublin in front of a mainly mid­dle-aged, mid­dle-class au­di­ence pay­ing be­tween €70 to

€181 for the am­bi­ence, clas­sic rock ’n’ roll and the brag­ging rights to say they at­tended prob­a­bly the last ever Ir­ish gig by the Rolling Stones.

You might, per­haps un­kindly, de­scribe them as the squeezed mid­dle – squeezed into red-tongued t-shirts last ironed af­ter the last Stones tour all those years ago. But who cares? Dur­ing their he­do­nis­tic first trip to Ire­land 53 years ago in Jan­uary 1965, who would have pre­dicted that the orig­i­nal pur­vey­ors of ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ would last to the end of the decade, never mind still be rock­ing all over the world in the sec­ond decade of the 21st cen­tury.

A fair cross-sec­tion of the au­di­ences who stormed the Adel­phi cin­ema in Dublin and the Savoy in Cork have prob­a­bly gone to their eter­nal re­ward while the ‘strolling bones’ are still riff­ing on ‘Tum­bling Dice’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Wild Horses’ and the one that set the stage alight – ‘Sat­is­fac­tion’. Af­ter be­ing on the fringes of their Hyde Park con­cert in Lon­don, I first re­ally saw them on a swel­ter­ing day in Slane Cas­tle on July 4, 1982. My only other en­counter with the band came when I raced around an art exhibition in Dublin with Ron­nie Wood in 2007.

“I haven’t seen these paint­ings in years,” he said in front of his por­trait of the leg­endary jockey Lester Pig­gott.

I told him Bren­dan Be­han had once said Pig­gott had “a face like a well-tended grave”. When he looked at me quizzi­cally, I re­alised the elfin-look­ing Wood had the same deeply fur­rowed fea­tures him­self. He laughed and we moved on.

Back in Cro­ker, dark­ness fell not on just the edge of town, it fell on one of the most flam­boy­ant bands the world has seen. It was a night, maybe even the last night on the sa­cred soil, to re­mem­ber their very spe­cial brand of the blues.

You might de­scribe the crowd as the squeezed mid­dle – squeezed into red-tongued t-shirts last ironed af­ter the last Stones tour all those years ago

Pho­tos: Steve Humphreys

Clockwise from main: Mick Jag­ger of the Rolling Stones on stage at Croke Park last night; Ron­nie Wood en­ter­tains the crowd; fans Teresa Aponte and An­gelie Fer­nan­dez from Sum­mer­hill, Dublin.

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