CORRECTS REFERENCE TO NUMBER OF SHOWS - Mick Jagger, front centre, Ronnie Wood, left, with Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, right, of The Rolling Stones perform at the O2 arena in east London, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. The band are playing five gigs to celebrate their 50th anniversary, including two shows at Londons O2 and three more in New York. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Updated: December 27, 2012 6:28AM
LONDON — The Rolling Stones made a triumphant return to the London stage on Sunday night in the first of five concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of their debut as an American-oriented blues band.
They showed no signs of wear and tear — except on their aging, heavily lined faces — as frontman Mick Jagger swaggered and strutted through a stellar two-and-a-half hour show. He looked remarkably trim and fit and was in top vocal form.
The Stones passed the half-century mark in style at the sometimes emotional gig that saw former bassist Bill Wyman and guitar master Mick Taylor join their old mates in front of a packed crowd at London’s 02 Arena.
It was the first of five mega-shows to mark the passage of 50 years since the band first appeared in a small London pub determined to pay homage to the masters of American blues.
Jagger, in skin-tight black pants, a black shirt and a sparkly tie, took time out to thank the crowd for loyalty.
“It’s amazing that we’re still doing this, and it’s amazing that you’re still buying our records and coming to our shows,” he said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Lead guitarist Keith Richards was blunter: “We made it,” he said. “I’m happy to see you. I’m happy to see anybody.”