British Summertime (BST Hyde Park)

BST Hyde Park: The Rolling Stones 3rd July – Live Review

Photo Credit: Louise Morris

Review by Archie Flexen-Cook

Two Stones concerts within eight days – now there’s a thing! Walking towards Marble Arch there was a definite buzz. People of all ages came into sight sporting Stones Hot Lips logo t-shirts, snippets of Stones hits pierced the air and the bent notes of blues harmonica merged with the roar of traffic down Oxford street. There was a heightened sense of anticipation and the sort of vibe that I imagined I would have experienced in the Sixties if I had been around. Things were looking promising

After the supporting acts had played their commendable parts, the legendary late drummer Charlie Watts filled the big screen with a steady uplifting drumbeat accompanied images from Charlie’s long and illustrious career. This personal approach to the opening of the show was quite poetic. Charlie Watts never favoured the solos, The limelight on stage, So a simple rhythm was perfect. Camaraderie was always Charlie’s gift. Known as the heart beat of the band, An avid lover of jazz music with a great sense of humour, he knew his duty to taking the group to becoming rock legends. The secret ingredient is consistency. Charlie was always there, a man of class and punctuality so to start the show appreciating his Service to them & music history was a touching tribute

Then There was the famous introduction “Ladies and gentlemen the Rolling Stones!” and then we had lift-off straight into serious Stones territory:

Photo Credit: Rory Barnes

Keith came first from stage centre closely followed by Mick and Ronnie to throw themselves straight into ‘Get off my Cloud’  The blues kings were here. Mick performed with a burst of energy that you would normally expect from a young and very fit Olympic athlete and his energy was more constant than his dress as we counted at least five costume changes throughout the show. His vitality did not fade away but increased beyond Olympian. The boys are here. Absolutely no build up, straight into famous Jagger dance moves, Ronnie shredding of the guitar and of course Keith being the legend he is, showing you why age is really just a number. ‘19th nervous breakdown’ came after – no pause, just a continuation from one song to the next to keep the people on their feet. You’ve come to see the Stones there are no breaks. Go hard or go home!

A repetitive riff sent tingles up my spine and Keith appeared to give us Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. That sudden moment of silence and then that blunt defiant work on the guitar shows you that this man has still got it. Steve Jordan, the man to sit behind the drums had some incredibly hard shoes to fill but he would of made Charlie proud. 

Mick stopped the show declaring this show to his former band member and gave an emotional speech which he seemed to tear up. He knew this is what Charlie would of wanted, the show must go on.

So then came Tumbling Dice. A classic i it’s own right and so early in the show, this was going to be good I could feel it. 

Choosing songs to perform like ‘Connection’ and ‘Out of Time’ made me feel like they were really celebrating their 60th Anniversary considering the latter was the first time they’ve played it live on tour since its release on their 1967 album ‘Flowers’. These tracks are what the Stones set out to be – good blues musicians but using the power of popular music to project themselves to superstardom. 

Photo Credit. Rory Barnes

The emotional vocals of Mick with ‘Angie’ – accompanied with the soft melody all written & played by Keith proves that a fantastic track from 1973 has gripped its way into 2022. Good on a CD driving along a country road, great on a vinyl during a BBQ and perfect during a live performance. 

What comes next is a shoutout to legendary artist. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ reveals a clue in its name. If any band is entitled to cover this great classic by Bob Dylan, surely it’s them. Instantly the recognition shot across the sea of people and the build up to the roar of the chorus ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. What a sight and sound coming from so many people of different ages. 

After Sir Mick Jagger had done the introductions and shout outs to the band and crew – it was now time for something called ‘Keith time’. He would perform two songs per show on vocals. One of the biggest highlight of the first show was ‘Slipping Away’. Included as the last track on their studio album ‘Steel Wheels’ instantly recognising that intangible opening riff and a song with so much depth you seem to forget you’re surrounded by 65,000 people all completely captivated by a man who many people consider a national treasure playing like it’s his last.


After Keith graced centre stage the set list for both shows was the same from then on. But it’s only just the start and the best was yet to come. The funky sound of a bass guitar rippling across Hyde Park heralded the start of ‘Miss You’. A classic which the boys like to perform for what feels like an hour of musical madness – the hooting of the chorus by the crowd enabled the band to go harder with some extraordinary solos by saxophonist Tim Ries and especially by the bass guitarist Darryl Jones, a true master of his craft who has toured with The Rolling Stones since 1993 and also played alongside Miles Davis

Only the best play with the best. 

Have you heard about the ‘Midnight Rambler’? Originating from 1969 and featuring on ‘Let it Bleed’, the bluesy folk song with harmonica accompaniment and the leading man showing a very theatrical display, the song getting ever faster till the blood was pumping to prepare you for what’s coming next… ‘Paint it Black’ – a rock song loved by many and considered to be one of their greatest hits. Released in 1966 and probably the best thing to happen that year. The second best being England winning the World Cup. Nothing before or after has ever sounded like this song. The noise of that noir riff and howling vocals deserves to be considered one the best songs to come out of the 60’s.


Suddenly the wrack of the drums erupted to signal the war cry of ‘Start me Up’ – a relentlessly belligerent burst of power could be felt as your lungs shook. No other Stones track sounds harder than this and for a very good reason. It’s incredibly raw with dominant lyrics trailed by Ronnie Wood losing his mind on stage and giving it everything. You can tell he enjoys playing that song. Such energy and talent from a man with hunger for more is a sight to behold. 

And to a big surprise, a song I would put money on being on the encore was ‘Gimme shelter’. Arguably one of the greatest songs ever written starts with a hypnotising guitar intro by Keith Richards and one of his best. Pure soul and passion has been poured into this record, completely gripping. the very essence of this piece is towards the taboo. War and the atrocities it brings. Released in 1969, relating to the end of an era tarnished by the war in Vietnam. An immensely powerful song that has stood the test of time and it’s still relatable today as the stage screens projected the Ukrainian flag to the eruption of cheers from the crowd. Very powerful indeed, something that takes you on a journey I can’t quite explain unless you’ve witnessed it for yourself. What a truly beautiful moment to have been apart of. The moment Mick Jagger and Sasha Allen belting out the chorus was mesmerising. How could you beat that? they went straight into another major hit with ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and boy didn’t they deliver. A knee jive classic just to add the cherry on top. The echo of “it’s a Gas, Gas Gas” can still be heard travelling around the globe a week on. Alas the show is almost over.

After Saying his farewell and appreciations for the band and people who came to this moment in history Mick Jagger and the boys left the stage to close the show. But the crowd were having none of it. Not moving a muscle and staying put, what seemed to resemble fireflies lit the big screen with the sound of Congo drums getting more noticeable by the second. The big finale was upon us. Sympathy for the Devil was the bands first track for their encore with Jagger putting on quite the display, A ballad destined for a big crowd who all did their part to really make this song quite special. The Constant chart of “Woo Woo, Woo Woo”, the images of Mick down the catwalk with 1000s of lights illuminating the dark sea of people, Keith and Ronnie staggering each other and pushing their fellow band member to the limit and of course Steve Jordan keeping the heartbeat of this band alive. 

And suddenly with immense projection, the sound even the unborn have heard. Satisfaction. How could you not know this song? As popular as Happy Birthday and surely programmed into our DNA. The riff, the drums, the voice, the lyrics – A complete masterpiece. Everyone on stage giving it absolutely everything as the crowd reciprocate the gesture, a night to remember for both us and them. 15 minutes of pure satisfaction. Not many could outperform that I can assure you. 

Over two shows The Rolling Stones have shown London that you can accomplish anything. 60 years of fantastic music and a backstory to follow the journey of history’s greatest Rock band. Just think, The earth is 4.5 billion years old and you were fortunate enough to live in the same era. There will be nothing like it again. I’m sure they willl carry on as long as they can so if you ever get the opportunity you must go. Mud, rain, hurricane. You won’t be disappointed. 

Strangers tend not to interact in cities, except when they attend an open-air Stones concert in Hyde Park. We had all come with the common purpose to pay homage to a legendary group that has passed the test of time; we all wanted to play our small part in writing another chapter for the archive of pop history and – by the way – we all wanted to enjoy the rhythms, the music, the colour, the energy, the originality, the flamboyance, the camaraderie and the experience that can only come from sharing the joy of skilled artistry and performance.

Long live The Rolling Stones.

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