The Rolling Stones and The Specials at the Ricoh 2018
by Pete Clemons
Support band, The Specials, appeared on stage at just before 7pm. The stadium appeared to be a little over half full. And under the evening sunshine it didn’t take them very long to whip up an atmosphere worthy of the occasion.
Comments from the stage were few and far between. But Lynval Golding did manage to get hold of the mic in between a couple of songs. Not remembering what he said word for word, Lynval did mentioned what a momentous week for him personally. He had been to Wembley to see the Sky Blues promoted and continued by saying that playing in Coventry, at the Ricoh, in support to the Rolling Stones was just incredible, and questioned if it could ever be topped.
Rather than it just being an audience pleasing comment, his words came across as genuine and sincere. For me, and I suspect many others, I just felt that it was touching and poignant moment. It was heartfelt and you couldn’t help but feel pride for him.
From the bands angle, I could only imagine how it all felt. It must have been stunning. Having said that, maybe not so, as I later saw a FB post from bass player Horace Panter mentioning that the crowd was tough to crack. That may have been because the band could only see the gold areas but from where I was, in the not so gold area, the atmosphere that The Specials created was just incredible. Virtually everyone at the rear standing area were singing and dancing.
The Specials set seemed to end abruptly. Away they turned leaving the stage to huge cheers. No encores and no goodbyes, none that I could hear at least. And strangely no ‘Ghost Town’ played. Maybe The Specials feel that times have changed and it no longer applies. Job done, they had certainly set a marker for the main event.
‘No filter’, in the urban directory, is a term used to describe someone who is very direct when conversing on various subjects. Anyone described as having ‘no filter’ says exactly what is on his/her mind. Someone, who will not hold back on what they have to say.
And it seems that the no filter reference to The Rolling Stones tour is being applied here to emphasise that there were certainly no limits as to what songs they were prepared to play. So long, of course, that they had been rehearsed. The set list for this tour does change slightly on each night due to the fact that the audience get the opportunity to vote on some of the songs they want to hear.
I was apprehensive when I booked for this gig but I shouldn’t have been. I should have kept the faith. This performance was simply age defying. Now at this point I really could get lost in the superlatives I could use to describe it all but superb doesn’t even come close. As Mick Jagger skipped and danced his way through an incredible set list, covering every inch of a huge ‘H’ shaped stadium wide stage, The Rolling Stones were, I thought, simply astonishing.
And birthdays were abounded as well as it turned out that both Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts had celebrated birthdays during their visit to Coventry. Charlie looked suitably embarrassed as a chorus of happy birthday was struck up.
The sound, at times, wasn't perfect. But reading through comments I have seen since, suggests it varied in different areas of the vastness of the stadium. But as a performance it will certainly be one that I will remember for all time. It was slick and polished and they worked as a team. There were no real intermissions as such as part-way through Keith Richards, for example, took over lead vocal so as to give Mick a break. With Mick reciprocating later on acoustic guitar giving the others time to get a breath.
Even as the sun set and the band were into their encores, there was no let up. During ‘Gimme Shelter’, backing vocalist Sasha Allen took centre stage with Mick duet ting with her in what produced some wonderful theatre of this, lyrically, dark song.
The Stones had certainly done their homework on the city too. They mentioned the Matrix Hall gig from 1963 and Locarno gig of 1964. They even mentioned the days of Jimmy Hill being at the helm of the football club. Not that I believe for a minute that they remembered these events. But they do have a very good website and archivist that they can refer to. And it was good that they took the time.
All these small touches, and attention to detail, amounts to exactly why ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling Stones are still known as the greatest rock and roll band on the planet.
Rolling Stone Set List
Specials Set List
1. Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)
(Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra cover)
2. Do the Dog
4. Friday Night, Saturday Morning
6. Man at C&A
7. Rat Race
8. Doesn't Make It Alright
9. Nite Club
10. A Message to You, Rudy
11. Monkey Man
12. Too Much Too Young
Links to relevant articles on this page.
An earlier article on this gig by Pete Clemons
On Horace Panter
The Rolling Stones in Coventry 1971 - photos from The Coventry Telegraph