The Observer - The set began, naturally enough, with Start Me Up and then, 44 years after they first invited 200,000 fans to listen to them for free in Hyde Park, the Rolling Stones were off. And it sounded like – as if they really had never stopped.
Next song up and Sir Mick's voice was calling out the hallowed lyric "It's only Rock n' Roll (but I like it)". And they did: even the most sunburned and dehydrated in the crowd of 65,000 found the strength to cheer and scream.
"Anyone here who was here in 1969?" asked Jagger. "Welcome back – it is nice to see you again."
In the summer of '69 the event had a poignant tone. Their former bandmate and member Brian Jones had just died and there were those who said the Stones should not play in public so soon. Back then Jagger read out some words from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Adonais – the poem written to commemorate the death of his fellow poet John Keats. The lines suggested that Jones lived on, like a star, "from the abode where the Eternal are". In a discreet reference to the white butterflies that were released over the crowds all those years ago Jagger sported a blue butterfly on his jacket shoulders during I Miss You, in tribute to his lost friend.
And there was poetry again when Jagger referred to summer's "short lease". England, at this time of year, he said, was the best place on earth to be. Crowd excitement peaked for Paint it Black, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women, and then again when Keith Richards belted out a number or two.
Among the crowd was one of many pilgrims who had made the journey back to Hyde Park, just as he did for the famous free gig 44 years ago. Alan Simms from Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire may have had to pay for his tickets this time, but at least there were loos available. "There were no toilets in '69. In fact, there was no organisation at all," said Simms.
"We thought it was going to be cancelled because Brian had just died. We got there early because we thought we could get to the front, but there were already 50,000 people waiting," he said. This time he had brought his children to see the band. "If someone had told me then that I would be taking them 44 years later I would have thought they ought to be locked up, but they were the ones who were mad for me to get the tickets."
Simms had seen the band six times before, but for his son, James, 29, it was a first. A machine operative in a factory in Worksop, he started listening to the Stones in earnest on his headphones at work but adds that he grew up on the music. "They have got their own special sound," he said. "It isn't like any other band's. There is not one bad song and I could listen to them all for ever."
For his father the early days were all about being rebellious: "I was about 13 when I got into them. Being a Stones fan set you apart from everybody else. I could never understand the animosity they got from other people.
"It was a great event back then and it is true there was something magical about it the last time. But I went to see them again in 1990 because I thought it might be the last time and I have seen every tour since. To be honest every concert seems better than the one before."
This time there were pyrotechnics and a tree-framed stage set that was a "cross between Wimbledon and a pantomime forest", according to Jagger.
Was Brian Jones twinkling down as the concert ended with Satisfaction? Who can say? But it is fairly certain that, to steal Shelley's verse once more, the Rolling Stones will not let us forget them "till the Future dares/Forget the Past".