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.