Still gathering no moss in their sixties

Of course those of us of a certain age have grown up with the Stones. We decided (or didn’t) that they represented our sexual drive in a way that the more melodic and less edgy Beatles never could. Their lyrics were more dangerous. They lived as our alter egos. Jagger’s fey athleticism appealed to boys and girls alike, The music seemed created precisely to draw from him that uninhibited, unashamed and dangerous sexuality. And the group personified wickedness on stage. I remember “Would you allow your daughters to marry one of these?” spread across the two inside pages of one right-wing newspaper, with four long-haired grimacing faces staring out. The fact that they were middle class, intelligent and articulate passed us by. We, who couldn’t inhabit the seedier world of groupies, wild women and drugs, watched and fantasised. But we could dance. We could prance and pout at our girlfriends, scream out the punch lines, liberate our libidos to a series of great rocking anthems.

Martin Scorsese has a CV with rockumentaries. The Last Waltz is an exquisite rendering of The Band’s work, the Dylan four hour biography is so wonderful that it acts as a contrapuntal diary to our own lives over the same period. And now this single concert in “Shine a Light”.

Some of the reviews were scathing in a nasty, sexist and revealing way. They found these ‘old men’ in their sixties, still getting it on, horrific. Cosmo Landesman in The Sunday Times, particularly so. Being film reviewers they felt they could revere Scorsese’s film making while rubbishing the ageing subject matter.

If the Stones had been black Chicago musicians, there would have been none of it. (I saw so many wonderful R&B legends at Ronnie Scott’s in the sixties and they certainly did get it on to both reverential and hardly sexually repressed reactions.) No, jazz and blues men can do what they like and it’s art. But rock and roll…? Give us a break.

In fact, the Stones (despite the sickly horror of being presented to Bill Clinton, Hillary and a horde of gruesome hangers on in so-not-rock-and-roll haircuts and suits, were tight, professional, awe-inspiringly athletic and phenomenal value for money. At the same time, Scorsese’s cameras caught loving camaraderie in the shape of smiles, grins of delight, facial caresses, kisses and strokes. Jagger ruled with hard-headed control, as though these were his family of errant boys, yet at the same time, still managing to cavort his way through numbers, adding a girlish, deliberately un-coordinated St Vitus dance to his routine. Keith Richard is still the epitome of the enfant terrible who has survived the extremes into yet another piratical decade. Ronnie Wood is still the stranger at the feast. And dear old Charlie Watts. What can you say? Hair untinted, face as solemn as ever (except for one delicious knowing moment when he pretends it’s all too much, whacking skins at his age), you’d still love him to pop round for supper.

For all the ‘they’ve sold out’ stories, the boys can still do the business and they are so mega rich they could have copped out years ago but like all who have touched the stars in whatever they do, they drive themselves on because they love it, love each other and love whipping up a storm.

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