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Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK


Stones set London ablaze

London's Shepherd's Bush Empire played host to the Rolling Stones

Fans of the Rolling Stones had a rare treat when the legendary band set west London ablaze.

The BBC's Cathy Killick joins the crowds in Shepherd's Bush
The band, midway through a UK stadium tour, gave fans an opportunity to see them in a more intimate setting at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.

And despite being the oldest rockers in town - with a combined age of more than 250 - the promise of a mini-concert in a small venue had the fans desperate for tickets.

[ image: Mick Jagger: Gives a winning performance]
Mick Jagger: Gives a winning performance
Last week, 5,000 queued at the Tower Records shop in London's Piccadilly for coveted seats up close to the legends of rock.

Outside, die hard fans who didn't get tickets in advance came along anyway.

Some reportedly even paid up to £1,000 for a last minute chance to see the band.

Worth the wait

But whatever the price, most seemed to think the Stones gave a one million dollar performance.

"I've never seen them so close before. I've been many times, the first in 1969, but this was brilliant - out of this world," said just one satisfied customer.

Many others agreed, as the sound of "brilliant" and "electric" resounded outside the venue at the close of the show.

[ image: Fans were ecstatic]
Fans were ecstatic
After nearly 40 years in the business, Mick and the boys seem to have a lot of life in them yet.

Tickets for their next concerts at Wembley on Friday and Saturday sold out nearly two years ago.

Music journalist Rick Sky believes the Stones are the greatest band in the world - and always have been.

"They still play great music and that's the bottom line. People still go to see them and not just people of their age but young ones as well," he said.

Long absence

But Julian Rolfe, news editor of Mixmag is less enthusiastic. He says the Stones, though still able to draw the crowds, have little place on today's music scene.

"They haven't made a decent song for the best part of a quarter of a century and the whole thing is really little more than a cabaret and a circus. There are many more bands now who are more exciting and relevant," he said.

[ image: Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood: Still going strong]
Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood: Still going strong
The group, who first formed in 1962, kicked off their UK tour last Friday at Murrayfield stadium, Edinburgh.

Their last UK tour was in 1995. Frontman Mick Jagger told the audience in the Scottish capital: "We haven't played in Britain for many, many years.

"We think it's fantastic that you waited so long for us to come back here and it's brilliant. We really appreciate it."

They also performed at Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield last Sunday night.

The dates were originally scheduled for August 1998, but were postponed after claims that tax reforms would leave them with a bill of £12m.

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