If this is the last time, The Rolling Stones prove they’re still the ultimate stadium rock band.
Conor McCaffrey
13:10 18th May 2018

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When the Rolling Stones announced this latest tour, Keith Richards claimed they were here for an even longer haul than we’d imagined.

“There’s no stopping us – we’re only getting started,” he reckoned, with a hat-tip to every editor dying for a headline.

But in fairness, the Stones have been defying critics, their own fans and the actual laws of biology for decades. They opened the second leg of their No Filter tour in Croke Park in Dublin last night, and just gave another masterclass in stadium rock’n’roll euphoria.

After 50-odd years there’s a chance you take the Stones for granted. All the pubs within a mile of Croke Park blasted hours of playlists beforehand, and you realise they could throw a dart at the board and pick any random song to start with and we’d all be good.

But they swan onstage in the early evening sunshine to 'Sympathy For the Devil'. And what an opener – an all-time classic that’d be the encore for 99% of all the rock’n’roll bands who’ve come up after them. It's followed by 'Tumblin’ Dice' and 'Paint It Black', and proof that Mick Jagger must’ve sold his soul to the devil at the same crossroads as Robert Johnson. He’s pouting with hands on his hip, hitting every note, no slip-ups for two hours. And at 74, still one of the most hysterically brilliant frontmen of all time. He spends the whole time twirling, ass-shaking and sprinting up and down the catwalk. And at one point during 'It’s Only Rock’n’Roll' he gets up in Ronnie Wood’s face and rubs his hands with pure glee. These tender moments happen all night – and it’s a buzz seeing Ronnie and Keith Richards shoulder to shoulder for most of the gig, eyeballing up and down and improvising off each other’s solos and jazzy left turns. Keef also gets a solo run at 'Before They Make Me Run / The Worst' – with an extra loud yell for maybe the last living actual rock god. No forgetting dapper drummer Charlie Watts either, as he gets a catwalk strut showing off his green button-down shirt.

The centre-piece is a 15-minute 'Midnight Rambler', with Jagger howling on the harmonica and doing a Freddie Mercury-style call & response. After 'Midnight Rambler', it gets ridiculous in the home run. 'Start Me Up', 'Jumpin’ Jack Flash' and 'Brown Sugar', with an extended 'Gimme Shelter' as the encore, and Sasha Allen taking the front for the iconic outro. '(I Can’t Get No)' Satisfaction is the send-off, with fireworks and hugs, and the general idea that when the Rolling Stones actually do finish up we won’t see the like of them again.

The Rolling Stones played:

'Sympathy for the Devil'
'Tumbling Dice' 
'Paint It Black' 
'Just Your Fool' 
'Ride 'Em on Down' 
'Neighbours' 
'Wild Horses'
'You Can't Always Get What You Want' 
'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)' 
'Honky Tonk Women' 
'Before They Make Me Run The Worst' 
'Miss You' 
'Midnight Rambler'
'Start Me Up' 
'Jumpin' Jack Flash' 
'Brown Sugar' 
Encore:
'Gimme Shelter'
'(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'
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Stock photo taken in 2017 in LU Arena, Nanterre, France

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Photo: Shutterstock