Review: Grandad Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones on fire in front of star-studded Macau crowd

Jagger and company roll back the years in front of 'intimate' 10,000-strong crowd

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 9:24am

The Rolling Stones showed a sold-out, celebrity-studded crowd in Macau’s Cotai arena last night why they can still claim to be the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band – more than half a century after they started out playing blues covers in tiny clubs in London.

Mick Jagger’s moves may have slowed a little over the years but his trademark showmanship hasn’t and he had the crowd up on their feet from the opening riff of Jumping Jack Flash. The band immediately cut loose, serving notice to the crowd of more than 10,000 that they were in for a special night.

Among the stars who turned out were Chinese screen star Zhang Ziyi, Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin, as well as mainland rocker Wang Feng and local musician Kenny Bee. VIPs who paid more than $15,000 for a ticket were treated to an up close and personal view of Jagger and co. from inside the Tongue Pit, a section of the mouth-shaped stage where they got a 360-degree view of the action.

The Stones rolled into Macau after playing to 150,000 Japanese fans at three shows at the Tokyo Dome, the largest venue on their 2014 On Fire Tour. They took to the stage at Cotai before one of the smallest crowds and, while it would be hard to call a 10,000 arena intimate, Jagger seemed pumped by the smaller setting, working the crowd as if he was still leading a bar band.

For local fans this was the first time to see the Stones since their two performances at the controversial Hong Kong Harbourfest a decade ago. There was no controversy here though as they added to the growing roll-call of world famous acts putting Macau firmly on the global music map.

A jumbo high-definition screen was the backdrop to the simple black-and-steel stage, offering everyone a close-up view, perhaps a little too close for Ronnie Wood and guitarist Keith Richards. The lines etched into Richards’ face from his many years as the poster boy for rock’n’roll debauchery were deep enough to be seen from the back of the arena. Sir Mick, now a 70 year-old grandfather, is less frenetic on stage than during the Stones heyday, but he hasn’t lost that haughty chicken strut that brings his lyrics to life, and he must have covered a couple of miles on stage.

The band was joined for three numbers by Mick Taylor, who played on some of the group’s most seminal albums including Exile on Main Street. Taylor showed why he is considered by many to be the Stones best guitarist with his turn on a 10-minute version of Midnight Rambler, as Jagger played the harmonica.

Songs like Honky Tonk Woman and Brown Sugar retained their freshness and energy even though they were released more than 40 years ago at a time when the Vietnam War was still raging. One of the surprises of the evening was a version of Get Off of My Cloud, chosen in a vote by fans on the band’s website and Facebook page. One unfortunate moment after the tragic events of the weekend was the video accompanying Doom and Gloom, which showed an animated jetliner crashing.

Time hasn’t been quite as kind to the band as to their best music. But after many public fallouts between the bandmates over the years, it’s testimony to their spirit of rock’n’roll that can still come together and deliver the goods. Fittingly, the band ended with Satisfaction.