Outside the Astoria, on Charing Cross Road, tickets were changing hands for $1500. Inside, in front of the luckiest 2,000 people in London, the Rolling Stones played the most intimate show of the British leg of their world tour Wednesday night.
After storming the stage with a muscular "Jumping Jack Flash," the Stones stomped right into "Live With Me." Then Mick Jagger -- in a T-shirt adorned with his own name -- paused for a minute to address the hometown crowd. "We're gonna do a few different numbers we don't usually do," he said. "The problem is, we don't know them as well."
"Don't know what album this is from," he admitted before Beggars Banquet's "No Expectations," which featured Ronnie Wood on lap steel guitar. And for a searing "Worried About You" (from Tattoo You), Jagger himself played piano, and employed a fearsome falsetto that built to a riveting climax.
The Stones backed it up with soul covers from the Temptations ("Ain't Too Proud to Beg") to Otis Redding ("That's How Strong My Love Is," "Can't Turn You Loose."
In the middle of the show, Keith Richards performed a two-song solo set of the standard "Nearness of You" and "Before They Make Me Run." Looking around, he announced that the Astoria was a "nice joint." "They're a funny bunch [The Rolling Stones]," he said, "you should work with these people."
Classic hits "Honky Tonk Women," "Start Me Up," "Tumbling Dice" and "Brown Sugar" closed out the set.
After a riotous "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" for an encore, the Rolling Stones closed the show with the four core members taking a bow in a tight spotlight -- still on top.
Jumping Jack Flash
Live With Me
Hand of Fate
Worried About You
Doo Doo Heartbreaker
It's Only Rock & Roll
Ain't Too Proud to Beg
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
That's How Strong My Love Is
Going to a Go Go
Nearness of You
Before They Make Me Run
Can't Turn You Loose
Honky Tonk Women
Start Me Up
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction