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Emotional climax after just ten minutes

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Of: Michael Schleicher

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The Rolling Stones in the Olympic Stadium (from left): Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. On drums: Steve Jordan. © Sven Hoppe/dpa

The Rolling Stones played in Munich’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday evening. After Madrid, the concert was the second stop on the “Sixty” tour, with which the Stones are celebrating their 60th band anniversary.

Munich – This concert evening in the Olympic Stadium is barely ten minutes old when it is heading for its first emotional climax. The Rolling Stones have just finished 1966’s 19th Nervous Breakdown in a delightfully snotty rendition as Mick Jagger recalls their drummer friend, the band’s passionate suit-wearing gentleman, Charlie Watts, who died last August. “We miss him very much.” Jagger’s words had not yet faded away when the sky opened up for the first time on this Pentecost Sunday over the Olympic Park – and the sun sent a greeting all over the world, dotted with a glorious sunset. So it really was the sun.

The Rolling Stones make a stop at the Munich Olympic Stadium

The Stones’ performance in Munich is concert number two of the current European tour, which started in Madrid on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. It is also the 116th show in Germany since the band was founded 60 years ago, as Jagger will report later in the evening. The Brits are not only using the anniversary to show how fit they are (Ronnie Wood, the youngest of the trio, has just turned 75), but above all for a kind of retrospective. Look here: these are our roots. And they are deeply rooted in the blues.

This can be experienced, for example, in “Living in a Ghost Town”. The Stones’ interpretation of this, well, “corona song” of 2020 is actually one of the musical exclamation points of the performance. The song creeps and nestles into the packed stadium like a nasty little rhythm ‘n’ blues number – Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood playing the motives on their guitars and each other until Jagger’s harp kicks in and the glorious fun spirals into madness turns.

Mick Jagger: “I had a beer in the English Garden yesterday”

The frontman is in good form in Munich. For the first half hour he has to pump and catch his breath from time to time, but then he has found his rhythm, dances like a dervish, flirts stylishly with the audience (“Servus Minga!”) – and talks about his free Saturday in the city: “Yesterday I had a beer in the English Garden. It was bikini weather. Not many bikinis tonight.” Jagger’s voice can hardly be heard at 78, even the highs – like in “Miss you” – are there. The number is dramaturgically cleverly placed in half, marking the transition to the really great classics, but above all it is a celebration for the accompanying musicians, who have already shown with “Tumbling Dice” how much soul they have. Miss You is undoubtedly Darryl Jones’ moment. With his virtuosic, precise playing on the bass he gives the title an urgency and immediacy that is far removed from any routine. At least now nobody is sitting in the stadium anymore.

Rolling Stones in Munich
The Rolling Stones in Munich: View of the full Olympic Stadium. © Felix Hörhager/dpa

Sing-along tunes like “Out of Time” certainly show how well the relationship between the Stones and their audience is, but especially “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when the band keeps the tempo decent towards the end attracts – and yet no one is carried out of the curve. Speaking of fans: They are in Munich from the start, when Jagger, Richards and Wood not only remember Charlie Watts (1941-2021) with a charming video film, but also set the beat for the opening with “Street Fighting Man”. A nice idea and appropriate appreciation. Since the drummer’s death, Steve Jordan has been behind the drums – he prefers a rich, edgy sound, a solid foundation for the sometimes surprisingly delicate guitar playing of Wood and Richards.

The Rolling Stones in Munich: Pictures from the war in Ukraine

Before the Stones really get all giddy after more than two hours of finale “Satisfaction”, there’s “Gimme Shelter” and a fantastic performance from Sasha Allen, who delivers a tough, gorgeous duet with Jagger. What’s more, this title from 1969 also provides a moment that, like the beginning of this evening, points beyond the music: the screens show footage of Ukrainian cities destroyed by Russian attacks. It’s only Rock’n’Roll? think.

More about the Rolling Stones? Read our interview with guitarist Keith Richards here.

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