Express & Star

The Rolling Stones and The Specials, Ricoh Arena, Coventry - review and pictures

Tens of thousands of fans left with more than just Satisfaction last night after a breathtaking show from rock legends The Rolling Stones.

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The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

They may have been in the business for more than 55 years, but the music icons blew the Ricoh Arena crowds away with a thrilling, energy-filled two-hour set - and showed no signs of slowing.

Up first for the evening’s entertainment, however, was Coventry ska band The Specials, whose top-notch playing and hit-filled show started the night on a high note.

The Specials at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

The two-tone stars went down a storm with their hometown crowd, though were perhaps a little swallowed up by the massive stage laid out at one end of the stadium.

This certainly didn’t affect the sound, however, which was absolutely perfect from start to end and saw Terry Hall’s faultless vocals carried to every corner of the venue.

Hits such as Gangsters; Nite Klub; Rat Race; and A Message To You, Rudy saw the already hundreds-deep sea of bodies in the standing area bound around with great energy as fans sang along.

The Specials at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

“Being back in Coventry playing The Ricoh with the Stones - this is a dream come true,” beamed Lynval Golding, before the band’s great support slot was drawn to a close with Monkey Man and Too Much Too Young.

Following a short break and an overhaul of the stage by dozens of backstage staff, it was time for the moment the whole arena had been waiting for - and, regardless of how high anyone’s expectations may have been, The Rolling Stones certainly did not disappoint, kicking off their phenomenal show with an excellent rendition of Street Fighting Man.

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

Showing he most definitely still has the Jagger swagger in abundance, Mick displayed his animated iconic moves from the get-go; strutting from one side of the stage to the other, shaking his hips, jumping up and down, and waving his arms in the air. The Dartford-born idol may be 74, but his brilliant vocals and tremendous showmanship have not waned one bit.

In fact, every one of the Stones stars was outstanding - each of them grinning from ear to ear throughout the gig as they showed off their respective tremendous talents.

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

And they treated fans to a set filled with hit after hit, with song such as It’s Only Rock and Roll, Paint It Black, Dead Flowers, Honky Tonk Women, Sympathy For The Devil and Miss You all going down an absolute storm.

The band also performed an incredible electric take of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, which was undoubtedly among the best live Dylan covers I’ve ever witnessed.

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

“We first played in Coventry back in 1963 at The Matrix Ballroom - it’s now a car showroom,” laughed Mick.

“It’s great to be here at this beautiful place on a beautiful evening.”

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

Seventy-one-year-old Ronnie Wood’s outstanding performances on guitar were among the night’s top highlights, as well as the delight of hearing rock legend Keith Richards, 74, sing lead vocals on two numbers: You Got The Silver and Happy - the latter of which saw Ronnie play the lap steel guitar.

Drummer Charlie Watts was amazing too, with hefty, solid beats which remained faultless throughout the entire show. It was his birthday - as announced by Mick - who then sang the 77 year old Happy Birthday, as Keith stood behind grinning with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth in his trademark rock and roll fashion.

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh Arena. Photos: Andy Shaw

The band’s iconic members were also joined on stage by six other musicians and vocalists, all of whom were brilliantly talented - from the backing singers, to the bass player, brass artists and the keyboardist.

Midnight Rambler, Start Me Up, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar were then performed, before the band left briefly for an encore.

Returning to the stage for a final time, the group played sensational energy-packed renditions of Gimme Shelter and Satisfaction - which saw Mick dance, jump, and run from the back of the stage to the front of a platform which cut mid-way through the crowd, before fireworks signalled the end of the show.

Far more than just a concert, last night’s show was a truly outstanding experience. Any Way You Look At It, The Rolling Stones remain the Salt Of The Earth - and long may they continue.