The streets surrounding Racket NYC club on Manhattan’s West Side resonated with a familiar but long-missed energy last Thursday. It wasn’t just any evening; it was the night the legendary Rolling Stones chose to throw a private launch party for their latest album, “Hackney Diamonds,” their first new compilation in almost two decades.
For those in attendance, the night was a delightful blend of nostalgia and exhilaration. This iconic rock ‘n roll band, boasting an impressive tenure of seven decades in the music scene, came alive on stage, performing a collection of tracks for their fervent fans. The crowd, numbering in the hundreds, witnessed an electric set which effortlessly wove together classics and fresh numbers.
Mick Jagger, the band’s indomitable frontman, now 80 and showing no signs of slowing down, took a playful jab at their long hiatus. Referring to the band’s famed New York launches, he quipped, “We were missing the launches so much we had to go back and make another album.” This statement elicited a chorus of cheers, echoing the anticipation fans felt for the new release. True to their tradition of iconic launches in New York – like their unforgettable promenade down Fifth Avenue on a flatbed truck or their entry into Grand Central Terminal on a caboose – this launch too, was nothing short of spectacular.
The new album’s title, “Hackney Diamonds,” is a nod to British vernacular for shattered glass, adding a touch of local flavor to their international acclaim. Among the evening’s many highlights was a performance of tracks like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Tumblin’ Dice,” songs that have become anthems for multiple generations of rock enthusiasts.
However, the evening’s pièce de résistance was the band’s collaboration with pop sensation Lady Gaga for the track “Sweet Sounds of Heaven.” The song, with its rich, bluesy undertones, hearkened back to the Stones’ 70s hit “Moonlight Mile.” As Jagger and Gaga took center stage, the duo engaged in a dance-off, mirroring each other’s moves, creating a memorable moment for all in attendance.
“Hackney Diamonds” marks the Stones’ first original album since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang.” This release is particularly poignant, being their first since the passing of their longtime drummer, Charlie Watts, in 2021. The core members now include Jagger, along with guitar maestros Keith Richards and Ron Wood. Interestingly, despite Wood joining the band 13 years after its inception, he’s been an integral part of their journey for close to half a century.
The album boasts a star-studded guest list. Iconic musicians like Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Elton John have lent their talents. It also sees the return of the Stones’ longtime bassist, Bill Wyman, who had parted ways with the band in the ’90s. His performance on the track “Live by the Sword” is made all the more touching with Charlie Watts’ drumming, recorded before his passing.
The album concludes with a tribute to their roots, the track “Rolling Stone Blues” – a nod to the Muddy Waters song that inspired their band name. With “Hackney Diamonds,” the Rolling Stones prove, yet again, their timeless appeal and indomitable spirit in the world of rock ‘n roll.