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The Rolling Stones cover The Beatles at first UK show without Charlie Watts

The Anfield gig was their first in Liverpool since 1971

By Joe Goggins

Mick Jagger on stage in 2018
Watts passed in August of last year. (Photo: Raph_PH/Wikimedia Commons)

The Rolling Stones covered The Beatles and paid tribute to Charlie Watts at their first UK show in four years.

The legends of rock and roll took to the stage at Anfield last night (June 9) for what, incredibly, was their first gig in Liverpool since 1971. A two-minute montage of Watts performing live played on huge screens just before his surviving bandmates took the stage; this was their first gig without him in the UK since he joined the group in January of 1963.

His long-time understudy Steve Jordan, who had already been confirmed to deputise for him when ill-health forced him out of last year’s US tour, was behind the kit as the Stones ran through a 19-song set that included a first-ever UK airing of 1966’s ‘Out of Time’, a British debut for the lockdown-inspired single ‘Living in a Ghost Town’, and a rare cover of the band’s one-time rivals, as they played ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ for the first time since they opened the first of their 50th anniversary reunion shows at London’s O2 Arena with it in November of 2012.

“We’d been practicing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’,” said frontman Mick Jagger in front of a capacity crowd at the home of Liverpool Football Club. “But we thought we’d do one by some local lads instead.” Elsewhere, Keith Richards took the mic for his customary two-song lead vocal turn at the set’s midpoint, playing ‘You Got the Silver’ and ‘Connection’, while the run through the greatest hits during the back half of the evening included an epic take on ‘Midnight Rambler’.

Earlier, local legends Echo and the Bunnymen had opened proceedings, with a typically humble Ian McCulloch, playing at his beloved Anfield, introducing ‘The Killing Moon’ as “the greatest song ever written” and, rather incongruously, accusing former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger of having “ruined football”.

The Stones now move onto Amsterdam on Monday (June 13), as part of a ten-country European tour to mark their sixtieth anniversary. They’ll return to the UK for two shows at London’s Hyde Park, on June 25 and July 3. The second of those gigs will come two days before the 53rd anniversary of their legendary 1969 appearance in the park.