It’s the 17 May 2018, and I’m standing on what would normally be the 45m line at the Hill 16 end of Croke Park. But tonight there is no goalposts to be seen, instead the massive structures that go into the staging of a show by one of biggest bands of all time dominate the landscape of the stadium.
The Rolling Stones are in town for the opening date of their No Filter tour. The sun is streaming into the arena as a crowd await the arrival of the the rock n roll outfit on stage.
Before we get to the main event though we were treated to the support act for the night, the Mullingar four-piece, The Academic. The young Irish band have been steadily gathering momentum since the release of their debut album, Tales from the Backseat, in January and they looked completely at home in front of the larger audience.
But tonight is all about one band, and at 8:30pm, we finally get what we’ve been waiting for. That iconic bongo intro fills the Drumcondra air and the unmistakable figure of Mick Jagger appears on stage. Dressed in a long glittering coat, he prowls the stage in a way that can not help but gather the attention of the crowd, and throughout the show it is hard to take your eyes off him.
For the next two hours, the 70,000 strong crowd would be treated to some of the best live rock music that you could ever hope to hear. Classic Rolling Stones tracks like Paint it Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Start Me Up demonstrate a band in fine fettle and provide the enthusiastic and spellbound crowd with plenty of moments of magic to keep them satisfied.
Across the night, Jagger is well supported by everyone else on stage. Keith Richards and Ronnie Woods are effortlessly cool as they rove around the stage, while drummer Charlie Watts keeps the beat behind them with the nonplussed expression of a man who has seen it all before, which of course he has. The accompanying players that they have with them on stage are no less impressive and the sound across the night is truly mesmerising.
I don’t think anybody would argue that The Rolling Stones are still the force that they used to be, but even the most cynical attendees would have to concede that there is still something compelling and unique about the band. Jagger still has a stage presence and charisma that many of the leading musical personalities of today could only dream of having, and this was a show that demonstrated all that is good about live music and why the discography of this iconic band has managed to stand the test of time.
And, to conclude, Gimme Shelter remains one of the greatest songs of all time…