A tax on the use of the word “treacherous” during Storm Ophelia would have eradicated the national debt, yet the Irish weather phenomenon truly deserving of such characterisation is the deceptive May sunshine.

It lured fools in their hundreds out in their t-shirts yesterday evening, only for them to throw covetous glances at the wiser heads in jackets who were carried down Jones’ Road on a cool breeze towards an appointment with Rock Heritage and the Rolling Stones.

The Stones’ back catalogue — particularly their career-best run from the 60s and 70s — is packed with tunes that are almost omnipresent, songs so well established as household names that a lazier writer would leverage their familiarity for some cheap play on words, not that this reviewer ever would stoop to such depths. Oh no no.

With Ed taking a break for the night, so too did the Mams and Dads of Ireland, who made the most of their reprieve from Phoenix Park taxi duties to come to Croke Park in their thousands, with healthy helpings of younger attendees too.

Introducing himself on stage to ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ in a three-quarter length silver sequin coat, Jagger showed the sort of nimble movement in front of the Hill that would be the envy of men a quarter of his age who will look to entertain with a different kind of footwork in Croker this summer.

‘Tumbling Dice’ from Exile on Main Street followed, with ‘Paint It Black’ in tow which set the tone for the night.

Despite nods to their recent LP Blue and Lonesome — ‘Just Your Fool’ and ‘Ride ‘Em On Down’ were politely tolerated by those in the crowd with only the compilation albums in their personal collection — this was a Greatest Hits show from an act with a hatful of them.

Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood are still every bit the stars as they flanked Mick in decadently rock attire — though, among the flamboyance, Charlie Watts somehow managed to stand out in a tucked-in green button down shirt and slacks, looking like a far more sensible man who took a wrong turn somewhere and somehow ended up behind a drumkit.

‘Neighbours’ gave something to the hardcore fans at the front of the stage, while the combo of online poll winner ‘Wild Horses’ and a crowd singalong ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ kept the masses happy — particularly with a rousing, rolling drumming outro.

“Thank you Dublin,” Mick swoons before giving shout-outs to Cork, Belfast, and Termonfeckin — the latter drawing a disproportionately large response from the crowd, second only to the roar of approval for Jagger’s reference to a Temple Bar spicebag.

Keith Richards lets riff during the Rolling Stones at the Croke Park last night.
Keith Richards lets riff during the Rolling Stones at the Croke Park last night.

Special mention goes to The Academic who made the short trip down the M4 to play an energetic support on the night.

The four-piece will make the step-up to big stage headliners when they play the Iveagh Gardens in July, and won’t be lacking for the occasion given how comfortable they looked last night.

As for the Stones’ show; the die-hards will be happy with the rare appearance of more obscure material, and the casual fans will have been happy with a hit-heavy setlist that will satisfy those who came to Croker to tick another heritage act off their bucket-list.

For the latter, in particular, the show was a rare chance to see the Rolling Stones on Irish soil.

And after all, when it comes to seeing a band with a combined age of 294, every opportunity to witness them live could be The Last Time. Oh no no.


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