Rolling Stones backed by 200 gorillas at the O2

The Rolling Stones kicked off their 50th anniversary concerts last night (25.11.12) with a well-received performance at the O2, backed by 200 gorillas.

The veteran rockers – made up of Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts – started the gig with video messages from stars describing the first time they heard the band.

Iggy Pop said: “The sound of Keith’s guitar was like being hit with a dead mackerel.”

Johnny Depp added: “They write great songs to do bad things to.”

Then a gang of 200 drummers entered the arena wearing gorilla masks, mixing with the crowd, and the group took to the stage and sang Wannabe Your Man, before renditions of It’s All Over Now, Get Off My Cloud and Paint It Black.

Lead singer Jagger spoke to the crowd and said how thrilled they were to be performing the first of their five 50 and Counting shows in Britain in such a memorable year for the country.

He said: “Olympics? We didn’t do that. Jubilee? Didn’t do that. James Bond 50th anniversary celebrations? We missed that. We just got in under the wire. So glad you are here, and so glad we are here.”

In the middle of the show, bassist Bill Wyman joined his former bandmates for It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, his first appearance with the group in the UK for 20 years.

Other hits that sent the crowd wild included Start Me Up, Brown Sugar and Honky Tonk Woman.

The group will play at the O2 again on Thursday (29.11.12) – tickets here – before heading to the US, playing at the Barclay Center, New York City, on Saturday 8 December and the Prudential Center, New Jersey on 13 and 15 December.