Review of gig on 8 February 2003
Courtesy of Times Magazine


   Many years ago a young lad stood among the crowd at a ballroom - that's what they used to call them in those days - not a million miles from Welwyn Hatfield and witnessed a phenomenon that was about to change the face of popular music.
Before him, pounding out a bassy bluesy ear-splitting set, were five young men in leather waistcoats and white shirts. He didn't have to be genius to know that this was something special. It was completely different from anything that had gone before at a venue that had featured most of the top names in the music world.
That venue was the California at the foot of Dunstable Downs. That young man was myself -  a spotty youth who liked to think he had his finger on the pulse as far as pop music was concerned - after all, he had the responsible job of buying the new records for the jukebox in his local coffee bar.
 The Cali' as this was known was run by the Green family, and they had a happy knack of being able to book the big acts, often signing them at a time when they were virtually unknown, only for them to be in the big time when they made their Cali appearance. So it was that on that particular earth-shattering night, hundreds of us stood and watched in awe as a group who had just released their first single on to the mar ket showed us why the rock world was beginning to take a lot of notice of them.
   By now you will have realised that the group was called the Rolling Stones. Messrs. Jagger, Jones, Richards, Watts and Wyman hit us with a noise that was louder than I had ever heard before. They didn't move about a lot in those days, they more or less just stood there and blasted out a string of numbers with such power that the floor of the old Cali was vibrating like never before. Not many people were dancing - most just stood and watched and wondered about what was happening.
It's a long time ago now - 40 years or so - but the memory is still vivid. I particularly recall their rendition of a song about the Jaguar and the Thunderbird and of course their new hit Come On which was much better live than on disc. And the memories came flooding back recently when I had the pleasure of seeing a tribute performance that rolled back the years.
The venue this time was The Stables, the luxurious nightspot founded by Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth at Wavedon near Milton Keynes. I must admit I was a little dubious about the thought of going to see a Stones tribute band. I felt it unlikely that any band could provide music of a quality and quantity to do justice to the originals. The Rollin Stoned proved me wrong - with a vengeance. In a performance that lasted nearly three hours they reproduced the Stones hits from those early days
right up

to the time when Ronnie wood was drafted into replace Welwyn Hatfield's own Mick Taylor. And the sound - obviously not as loud in such an intimate venue as it had been 40 years ago in the hanger-like California - was about as true to the original as you can get.
The audience included many people who must have been around in the early days of The Stones, as well as some who were certainly n ot born then. We were treated to a musical tour through Stones history. Of course we knew these were mere actors playing a part - but they were also talented musicians who re-created the hits with amazing accuracy. The Brian jones lookalike - Byron Jones as he calls himself - was frighteningly lifelike, if that's not an inappropriate way of describing him, considering the tragic end of the original Mr Jones.
Byron formed the Rollin Stoned four years ago when he split from the Counterfeit Stones - he had been a co-founder seven years before that. He should be congratulated because what resulted was a highly professional act that entertained, amused and sent the old brain cells on a journey back through the decades.
Thanks men, it was a great experience. Just like The Last Time.

Andrew Wallis

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