Anneka Rice

Every picture tells a story

The Rolling Stones guitarist on his lifelong obsession

I am in Paris for the Rolling Stones’ No Filter concert, in Ronnie Wood’s dressing room minutes before he is due on stage. Walking through the door, I find myself in what looks like a giant crèche, and every size of child and grandchild bouncing around on a thick rug woven in the pattern of Ronnie’s ‘Wild Horses’ painting. Ronnie greets me like a long-lost friend with a massive hug, no sign of pre-concert agitation.

Apparently Mick is somewhere round the corner doing a strenuous workout. Keith may or may not be reaching down to touch his knee a couple of times as his warm-up, but here there is no sign of preparation. A setlist pinned to the wall gives me a tantalising preview of what is to come over the next few hours, each song hand-painted by Ronnie. He does this for all the tours. It’s quite a thrill to see ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Start Me Up’ and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ in bright yellows and blues and greens. ‘Charlie wants to come and say hello,’ says Ronnie, as though about to introduce me to great-aunt Agatha at a christening.

Minutes before this, I’ve been in another area backstage holding Gracie, one of Ronnie’s and his wife Sally’s enchanting twins, talking to tour manager Joyce. She’s worked with the Stones for decades. She tells me I went to the same school as a great friend of hers. This is turning out to be very un-rock and roll, but I like it.

It’s very heart-warming. It feels like a bunch of old friends are meeting up for a reunion to play a bit of music together. Which is obviously what they are doing. Just factor in a zillion pounds worth of lights, dazzling effects and a massive adoring crowd, three quarters of a million strong so far on the tour.

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