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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 12:23 GMT
Amused and bemused, Stones roll on
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

The Rolling Stones announced their European tour with a series of live TV interviews from Dallas, Texas, where they play on Tuesday.

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones kick off their European tour in Spain next May
It is 0120 Dallas time (0720 GMT) and a bleary-eyed Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts are struggling to keep up with Elise, a presenter on French breakfast television.

"Ideologically, do you feel closer to Europe than the States?" she asks over a stilted satellite line.

It is one of nine link-ups the band are doing with breakfast TV programmes across the continent to whip up enthusiasm for their 32 stadium shows from May to August next year.

"Somewhere in the middle, ideologically," Mick ponders. "Actually, I can't really discuss ideology on this really dodgy audio link," he says, good-humoured but giving up.

"And also, she's just woke up and we're going to sleep," Keith butts in.

The hour is late, the satellite link stuttering and the language barrier slightly confusing. The Stones are doing their best to be charming and profess to be "really looking forward" to every country they hook up with.

Sir Mick Jagger
Sir Mick Jagger has been performing for more than 40 years
But when the communication gets too difficult and Keith gets boisterous, the group collapse in laughter as the bemused interviewer tries to regain control.

"I'm sorry, it's really hard to discuss anything serious, Elise, on this link," Mick says.

"Yes, we could go into it privately," Keith offers.

The Mick 'n' Keef double act has been going strong for decades and shows no sign of losing its appeal - onstage or off.

On this occasion, Mick is the straight man trying to hold things together while Keith, drink in hand and fag in mouth, shouts random quips followed by a grizzly laugh.

Before the struggling French presenter, the first country to be plugged in is Holland, where Ivor asks: "What's exciting about playing in Holland?"

The awkward pause lasts slightly longer than the normal satellite delay before Mick launches into his diplomatic spiel about "really looking forward to" going there.

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones kicked off their tour in the US in August
"Very hard country to leave actually," Keith chimes in. "For several reasons. Which I won't go into at the moment.

"Holland is our absolute favourite place. Apart from when we're somewhere else," he laughs.

Next up is Anders in Sweden and Elise in France. "You have to keep it very simple and straightforward," Mick implores the UK's GMTV, who are up next.

Manuela from Italy is followed by Sky News but the satellite delay trips both sides up. They talk over each other before stopping, pausing and starting again at the same time.

"Guys, there's a really long delay on his - I'm sure the viewers can keep up with us talking over each other," presenter Lorna Dunkley explains.

We enjoy our music and our audiences are very warm and faithful to us
Sir Mick Jagger
"No, there... th..." Mick begins as Lorna says: "It's actually quite amusing, it doesn't really make sense.

"How are you all coping with your tour?" she manages to ask.

"We're fine, we've been doing it since the middle of August. We're still alive," Mick replies as Keith adds: "We're knackered."

Sven represents Germany before Patrick from Belgium asks "what means Belgium to you?", eliciting Keith's reply: "Somewhere between Holland and France."

The last link is with Neils from Denmark, who puts the question: "What kept you guys together for all those years?"

"Glue," Keith jokes. But Neils manages to get a more serious response from Mick.

"We enjoy our music and our audiences are very warm and faithful to us," he says. "It's one of the reasons we exist.

'Enthusiastic' crowd

"If we didn't have an audience, we wouldn't be playing probably. I don't know, maybe we would be."

The band "always get a great crowd" in Denmark, Mick says to keep the locals happy.

"They're always very enthusiastic," he says. "People say 'why do you keep going?'

"Well, because people want to come and see us and we find that fantastic, we find that gratifying. That's one of the big reasons why we're still here, obviously."

The Stones may be able to fill stadia without having to humour European TV presenters in the middle of the night.

But they are prepared to put in the required work - and spend the rest of the time having a laugh.

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