The Rolling Stones not only got grounded for breaking curfew at the first London date of their current mini-tour on November 25, they brought R&B powerhouse Mary J. Blige to the O2 Arena to go toe-to-toe with Mick Jagger on a soul-stirring rendition of "Gimme Shelter." She fared well in the face of the incomprehensibly spry Stones singer, but God help her if she ever has to go up against baroque-pop firebrand Florence Welch. SPIN's 2010 Artist of the Year was Mick's sparring partner for "Gimme Shelter" at the band's second O2 gig last night, and ... wow. Just. Wow.
The band (and their backing band) were in top form to begin with: Mick chest-puffing and high-strutting like a cock in a hen house while Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood shredded and slinked like old, slow cheetahs in high grass. But then came Miss Welch, a ginger hurricane in mauve bell-bottoms, entering the Arena with all the subtlety of a meteor crashing into a zen garden. She instantly thrust herself into Jagger's personal space, and spit each line of the classic song into his face like some kind of sexy-but-deadly dare. On numerous occasions, a breakdance battle seemed inevitable.
"But what about her vocals?" you ask. Well, you needn't. Florence slayed. Watch for yourself above via some fan-shot footage, or here for a different view. Also, revisit Blige's performance below, but don't say we didn't warn you if the uncut 411 is too much to handle.