Rolling Stones No Filter, London Stadium, 22nd May 2018

Last night, I looked into Mick Jagger’s eyes and saw fire. No, I wasn’t dreaming (although I have dreamt about most members of the Rolling Stones, and even all at once, but I digress). In the real world, I was privileged to see the Stones play the London Stadium and it was quite a homecoming.

Last September, I caught the Italian leg of the Stones’ No Filter Tour in Lucca and was euphoric to get a second bite of this luscious cherry at the start of their UK tour. So I thought I knew what I was getting. Well I did, and I didn’t. One thing evident from the opening chords of Street Fighting Man was that the Rolling Stones are fresher, rested and rearing to go. Their playing was tighter, their energy higher and the happy vibes on stage were off the hook.

The set list has the same components, but in a different running order (which confused the faithful as we stood hooting in the fading light in anticipation of Sympathy for the Devil) and as with the 2017 European dates, each city gets its own track, voted for on social media some 48 before. In the case of The London Stadium, this was Under my Thumb.

Thanks to superior (read more expensive) tickets we had a much better view and were closer to the stage in London than in Lucca and despite the capacity crowd of around 80,000 there was an intimacy which is hard to describe….I dunno, maybe the people at the back and up in the gods would disagree; there was also a poignancy about seeing the boys in their home town.

So, to the music: Street Fighting Man was swiftly followed by It’s Only Rock & Roll (which naturally sparked a mass singalong) then into Tumbling Dice and Paint it Black before entering the Blues zone with Ride em on Down. Under My Thumb followed before a change of tempo with Fool to Cry.

Without naming the whole set list, I’ll just say that no Stones fan would have been disappointed. It was all there – including a grandiose ten-minute version of Midnight Rambler when the lid blew off and stayed off – through Start Me Up, Jumping Jack Flash and Brown Sugar, ending in the ultimate encore with Gimme Shelter and Satisfaction.

I defy any Stones fan present to be disappointed; the love in the room could have powered the national grid.

And that’s the thing about the Stones. The fire still burns; I saw it raging in the eyes of Mick Jagger, less than ten metres away. These guys love what they do more than life itself – and we love them for it. When it comes to performing live, nobody can touch the Stones and every gig is a life affirming celebration. Mick, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie and their extended musical family are a total inspiration – and long may that continue.

*Photographic images my own

Book Review: Her Secret by Kelly Florentia

Her Secret is Kelly Florentia’s second novel featuring the life and times of Louboutin-loving 40-something girl about town, Audrey Fox.

Having enormously enjoyed my first encounter with Audrey in No Way Back, I was excited to hear of the sequel and it did not disappoint.

We return to North London to find Audrey newly married and looking forward to moving into a fabulous new des-res in swanky Highgate Village. But all in the garden is not rosy and from the get go, we have an uncomfortable sense that something is amiss with the dashing Daniel.
As with the first book, Her Secret is bursting with lively characters in the shape of Audrey’s wonderful friends; Tina, Rowan and Louise, colleague and confidante, Fearne, and sister-in-law (and harassed mum) Vicky, all keep us intrigued and entertained.  But there are villains, too, upping the suspense quota and enriching this multi-layered plot.  You’ll get no spoilers from me, but the last third of the book sees a quickening of pace that makes it unputdownable.

I should point out that whilst Her Secret is a great standalone novel, I highly recommend reading No Way Back first to fully appreciate the twists and turns of the plot and the depth and complexity of some of the relationships. Tip : Remember that Daniel was not Audrey’s first big love…

I loved Her Secret and am hoping there’ll be a third novel in the series so it’s a no-brainer 5-Stars from me.