It is often said, with more than a grain of truth, that the proliferation
of tribute bands on the live music circuit these days holds back
the development of young musicians desperate to secure gigs.
That venues, eager to attract big audiences, will err on
the side of caution rather than take a risk on groups trying to
develop a new sound.
On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the best of
such bands offer an invaluable insight into the past. A chance
for those who may have been too young - or merely unable to secure
tickets at the time - to experience the joy of hearing some truly
great songs live.
And bands like the Rollin' Stoned, who appeared at Sutton
United's Boom Boom club a couple of days after Christmas certainly
fall into this category.
Storming onto the stage at the Gander Green Lane venue,
the bewigged band had taken the trouble to look the part - Bill
Wyman looked so authentic one worried dad pushed his attractive
daughter out of the
bassist's line of sight - but it was their playing that really
The real Stones' genius comes from having just about the tightest
rhythm section in the business. Bass and drums keep everything on track
- allowing Keith Richards to sear those unforgettable riffs deep into
the brain and Mick Jagger, well, to ponce about in a camp manner (and he
does sing a bit and play harp as well).
And the Stoned emulated their heroes to a tee - much to the
collective joy of the packed crowd.
Mostly, they were the greybeards you'd expect at such an event -
but there were younger faces too, much younger faces.
And not merely recalcitrant teenagers dragged to the gig by
ranting dads telling them to 'come and hear some real music, not that
rap/techno/house stuff you usually play'.
I've seen a few Stones imitators in my time - as well as the real
thing on at least 10 occasions - and, in my view, the Stoned are the
nearest thing to the real article.
Classic numbers such as Street Fightin' Man, Midnight Rambler
and Honky Tonk Women, as you would
expect, sparked the sort of
manic dancing you'd witness if you're ever lucky to see Mick and the
boys at a small gig - such as their 1999 Shepherds Bush Empire gig, but
for me, the highlight of this set was the difficult-to-master
psychedelic material, such as Gimme Shelter, the opening strains
of which wafted out over the appreciative and knowledgeable crowd like a
call to arms.
It was a great night. The Stoned were all well versed in their
role - to keep alive the tradition of great live music. It's a valuable
service too - probably the only chance many music fans will get to hear
songs on which the foundations of rock are based played in their natural
environment. If the Stones are the Best Rock 'n' Roll band in the World,
the Stoned are the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tribute Band in the World!.