SHOULD the Stones knock it on the head like Keith Richards in that unfortunate encounter with a tree?

Don't be daft. The "best pub band in the world" still defy all before them: the calcifying ravages of age and the fickle flicker of pop fashions; Keith's brain surgery; a dearth of Top Ten singles for two decades; even Keith flouting Glasgow's smoking ban last Friday in what passes for latter-day rock rebellion.

On Sunday, as if countering the Stones' shooting flames and fireworks that lit up the night with a bigger bang, Sheffield's industrial skies threw all they could at Sir Michael Jagger and his 35,000 subjects.

Here was unexpected extra drama, far removed from the sunshine glamour of playing Rio or Rome, as minions scurried for carpeting to make the stage safe. "They're doing the kitchen next," joked Jagger. Ever the dandy, he reached for a hat then another, so did Ronnie and dear Keef, whose peaked cap with a pirate motif winked knowingly at Johnny Depp's Captain Jack tribute.

Charlie Watts, the old father time of the drums, played on under a protective plastic shield, as the band were propelled forward on a mobile mini-stage to the heart of the audience in the furious rain.

This was a direct parallel with their only rival as the world's greatest stadium show band, U2, and it was the only occasion they were found wanting by not making more of the more intimate setting.

The ageless anthems and stadium style remain the same, with the familiar format of a couple of new numbers (Streets of Love surpassing the strutting rock of Rough Justice): a lesser known oldie (Sway); a ropey vocal interlude for Keef and the inevitable farewell of Satisfaction guaranteed as they still reign in the rain.