Rolling Stones play London in first of 50-year shows

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Mick Jagger, right and Keith Richards, left, and Charlie Watts behind, of The Rolling Stones perform at the O2 arena in east London, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. The band are playing four gigs to celebrate their 50th anniversary, including two shows at London’s O2 and two more in New York. Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

LONDON—The Rolling Stones were set to rock London on Sunday in their first stadium concert for five years as the band mark half a century together.

Excited fans who paid up to £406 ($650, 500 euros) for a standard seat, and in some cases thousands of pounds more through ticket re-selling sites, gathered at London’s O2 Arena for the first of two sold-out gigs there.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood will be joined by their original bass player Bill Wyman for the first time in two decades in Sunday’s concert.

The show is the first of five “50 And Counting” performances to mark the Stones’ 50th anniversary, with a second show at the O2 on Thursday and three in New York and Newark, New Jersey next month.

While the band has attracted criticism for the high price of tickets for the concerts, diehard fans have not been deterred. Some believe it may be their last chance to the see the ageing rockers in action.

Jill Roberts, a 52-year-old housewife from England who was making her way into the O2 for the concert, said: “It’s hard to justify that kind of money but a lot of people were prepared to pay it.

“It’s an awful lot of money but I guess it’s just a one-time thing. I don’t think I’ll be coming again anyway.”

She first saw the Stones play eight years ago. “I want to experience it again, because they are such good musicians,” she said.

The band have been rehearsing in Paris, where they played a concert for just 350 people at a small club on October 26, although tickets for that surprise gig were priced at just 15 euros (£20).

US music magazine Billboard reported in August that the Stones would earn a total of $25 million for the four shows — and that was before the extra gig in New York’s Barclays Center on December 8 was added to the itinerary.

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