JAN MOIR: With a combined age of 235 at their album launch, the Rolling Stones looked as if they were in some demented boudoir, a lush crypt for the decrepit

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And then there were three. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood are the last Rolling Stones still rolling.

And yesterday, rock’s unholy trinity announced the release of their new album, Hackney Diamonds.

Most bands would issue a Press release or perhaps quietly urge a radio station to play a few tracks, but new music from the Stones? This is a major international event. This calls for blanket coverage on Sky News and other stations, with updates across multiple social media platforms.

On Twitter, Jagger unleashed details across seven time zones, while in London, the band hired the Hackney Empire theatre and flew in U.S. chat show host Jimmy Fallon to interview them on this momentous occasion.

‘Do you guys still love being in the studio together? Was it fun?’ he wondered. ‘Yeah, yeah, it is still fun,’ they assured him.

Right to left: Ronnie Wood, Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event in London

Right to left: Ronnie Wood, Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event in London

In fact, it is so much marvellous fun they haven’t done it for nearly 20 years — their last album of new music, A Bigger Bang, came out in 2005.

‘We’ve been lazy,’ said Mick, by way of explanation. Did they worry about how fans will receive their new music, Fallon probed? ‘Nah, we just cross our fingers,’ shrugged Jagger.

On stage the three rockers were resplendent in hats and hair dye, sitting on sculpted red armchairs which wrapped around their tiny, frangible hips like cupcake holders.

Under a canopy of red velvet drapes lit by red table lamps, they talked of their new ‘melting-pot melodies’ and ‘lovely riffs’, looking as if they were inside some demented boudoir, a lush crypt for the decrepit.

‘I can tell you straight that I have no idea what it’s about,’ said Keith of one of the new songs, which he quite possibly wrote himself. Ronnie expounded on why making guest appearances playing guitar with other bands helps keep him young.

‘You’ve got to keep your fingers moving when you get to our age. You’ve got to keep everything moving,’ he added, gratified by the ripple of smutty titteration that ran through the audience.

Certainly, there is no avoiding the issue of their advanced age, a combined 235 years, but for a few shining moments on stage yesterday, the decades melted away like candle wax, their life force and enthusiasm seemingly undiminished, writes JAN MOIR

Certainly, there is no avoiding the issue of their advanced age, a combined 235 years, but for a few shining moments on stage yesterday, the decades melted away like candle wax, their life force and enthusiasm seemingly undiminished, writes JAN MOIR

Perhaps part of the Stones’ enduring appeal is to foster the notion amongst their more timid male fans that they too could run off with cocktail waitresses and ballerinas. Or survive honky-tonk wives and falling head first out of coconut trees, whilst still buccaneering through life and loves at the age of 80 and beyond.

Perhaps part of the Stones’ enduring appeal is to foster the notion amongst their more timid male fans that they too could run off with cocktail waitresses and ballerinas

Perhaps part of the Stones’ enduring appeal is to foster the notion amongst their more timid male fans that they too could run off with cocktail waitresses and ballerinas

It is a potent myth, even if one wonders how on earth the Stones themselves survive the emotional turmoil.

‘Some are fey, some are tongue-in-cheek, some are a little bit more of a joke,’ said Mick, talking about his long-term relationships with the women who — sorry, my mistake. He was talking about the 12 new songs on the album.

Certainly, there is no avoiding the issue of their advanced age, a combined 235 years, but for a few shining moments on stage yesterday, the decades melted away like candle wax, their life force and enthusiasm seemingly undiminished.

Individually and collectively, they are more on the ball than 80-year-old President Biden — scant praise, agreed — but there is something undeniably magnificent about their craggy, ancient presence.

In profile, today’s Mick, Keith and Ronnie are rock ’n’ roll’s Mount Rushmore; Vice President Cadaver, President Wrinkle, King Corpse. Yet in spirit they still drum to a much younger, hipper beat.

The trio explained that the title of their new album is a slang term that refers to the smashed windscreen of a burgled car in Hackney. What is the significance? ‘We’re a London band,’ said Keith.

Or as London as they can be, what with being tax exiles for the past 50 years or so.

Fans wish Sir Mick Jagger a happy 80th birthday outside the event in London

Fans wish Sir Mick Jagger a happy 80th birthday outside the event in London

These street-fighting men stopped being street during that chateau-buying spree way back when. But the shameless loquacity of their gor-blimey accents suggests they’d never left the Old Kent Road and partake of regular infusions of jellied eels.

Drummer Charlie Watts died in 2021, but by the miracle of modern technology he plays on two tracks on the new album.

Even more surprising is the presence of Bill Wyman, who left the band 30 years ago amid much acrimony and mutual accusations of being ‘boring’. What was behind this rapprochement? We learn that Mick just rang him up on the dog and bone.

‘Are you still playing, Bill?’ he asked. ‘Of course I am,’ replied Wyman. And that was that.

The televised interlude ended with a video performance of the Stones’ new single Angry, in which Mick complains he is not getting enough sex. Strike a light, guv. Some things never change.




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