LONDON – They got satisfaction all right.
On Sunday, some 20,000 elated fans at the first Rolling Stones concert since 2007 got two-and-a-half hours of 69-year-old Sir Mick Jagger strutting with as much energy as a teenager – which is what he was when the band came together a half-century ago.
The atmosphere at London's 02 Arena was raucous but joyous, as spectators, who'd come from across Europe, sang themselves hoarse and danced themselves into exhaustion. Many songs had the entire crowd up on its feet, boogeying at their seats.
"I've watched lots of bands, and that's as good as I've seen," said Mark Blake, 34, a warehouse worker from Stamford, England. "The music has stood the test of time. … They sounded great."
Under a giant, bright-red upper lip – an echo of the band's famous lips-and-tongue logo – that arched above the stage, Jagger shimmied, bounced and wiggled through a song selection that ranged from I Wanna Be Your Man, a 1963 hit, to Doom and Gloom, which was released in October and drew a muted reaction from the crowd.
The band stuck mostly to the classics such as Sympathy for the Devil, Get Off of My Cloud and other favorites. Only the most iconic Stones song of them all, Satisfaction, was missing, despite its inclusion on the official playlist distributed to reporters.
But that didn't seem to matter. Nor did it bother the audience that the Stones, once the epitome of youthful disrespect for authority, now would fit in nicely at a senior citizens' coffee klatch. Guitarist Ron Wood is the youngest current member at 65, while bassist Bill Wyman, who appeared with his former bandmates for the first time in more than 20 years, is 76.
"The energy they had to give – it's unbelievable," said Sarah Gambetta, 29, an architect who traveled from Switzerland to see the show. "A lot of people with white hair were sitting down quietly but when the music started, they jumped up."
Jennifer Nola of Farmingdale, N.Y., was concerned before the concert that the performance wouldn't live up to the 80-odd other Stones performances she has heard over the years, but the band "blew me away."
"They look wrinkled, but the energy and performance are spot on," said Nola, 49, a tourism consultant. "They're old, but they delivered."
They had a little help in delivering the goods. Hip-hop star Mary J. Blige sang with Jagger on Gimme Shelter, and Mick Taylor, a Stones guitarist for half a decade, played alongside his old mates for the first time in years. In case the music wasn't exciting enough, several fog machines, a three-story video screen and a small army of drummers wearing gorilla masks supplemented the events on stage.
Jagger gamely did his part, frequently changing the shirts that accompanied his skintight black pants and black-and-silver sneakers. After nearly every number, he asked how everyone was doing, and during the songs acted like a hyperactive cheerleader, repeatedly urging the audience to clap or sing or cheer.
"I'm so glad that you're here, and I'm so glad that we're here," Jagger said, after acknowledging the band's 50-year anniversary.
The show was the first in the band's "50 and Counting" tour, which includes a second concert in London, one in Brooklyn and two in Newark. Tickets for the O2 show reportedly sold out in seven minutes when they went on sale in October, even though admission started at roughly $170. The high prices led The (London) Times to run an editorial sarcastically titled, "Please give generously – to old rockers."
I Wanna Be Your Man
It's All Over Now
Get Off of My Cloud
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter (with Mary J. Blige)
All Down the Line
Going Down (with Jeff Beck)
Out of Control
One More Shot
Doom and Gloom
It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (with Bill Wyman)
Honky Tonk Woman (with Wyman)
Before They Make Me Run
Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor)
Start Me Up
Sympathy for the Devil
You Can't Always Get What You Want (with the London Youth Choir)
Jumpin' Jack Flash