Following the opening night in Madrid, they head to Munich and then on to Liverpool to play at the city's Anfield football stadium in what will be their first gig in more than 50 years in the hometown of The Beatles.

Right before the first song, videos of their late drummer Charlie Watts were displayed in big screens on the stage and the band gave an emotional tribute to their late friend.
Right before the first song, videos of their late drummer Charlie Watts were displayed in big screens on the stage and the band gave an emotional tribute to their late friend. (Reuters)

The Rolling Stones have rocked Madrid with gusto, and a bit of nostalgia for their late drummer Charlie Watts, as they kicked off a European tour marking their 60th anniversary as a band.

Some 53,000 fans at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium roared with excitement on Wednesday as they welcomed to the stage the original band members Mick Jagger, 78, and guitarists Keith Richards, 78, and Ronnie Wood, 75.

"Hola Madrid!" shouted the band's wiry frontman Jagger to even louder cheering after the band opened the show with “Street fighting man” and Jagger launched into his signature strut dance moves.

Right before the first song, videos of Watts were displayed in big screens on the stage and the band gave an emotional tribute to their late friend.

“This is our first European tour without Charlie, we miss him a lot,” said Jagger in Spanish right before playing “Sad, sad, sad” to a moved crowd.

"The band dedicated the show to him," show designer Patrick Woodroffe, who has worked with the Stones for four decades, said.

"Some time has gone past and we miss him all the time, we laugh about him, we talk about him a lot and this is a way to celebrate his life rather than to mourn it."

READ MORE: Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

An ode to Ukraine

After 17 songs, The Rolling Stones left the stage just to return in response to a big round of applause by the Madrid crowd.

The band played “Gimme shelter” as the Ukrainian flag and footage of destroyed Ukrainian cities where displayed on the monitors as a statement against war.

During the 14-show tour the British band will play stadiums and arenas in 10 countries, including their homeland.

The Stones will next play in Munich on Sunday and later perform in Liverpool, Amsterdam, Bern, Milan, London, Brussels, Vienna, Paris and Stockholm.

According to Woodroffe, the Stones have no plans to stop rolling and refuse to call any tour their last one.

"I can tell you categorically that The Rolling Stones will never do a farewell tour... I think everybody in the world is asking 'is this the end of The Rolling Stones?'

"Every time they go on tour again and the only people who don't question it is The Rolling Stones themselves."

READ MORE: Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl team up for a pandemic anthem

Source: Reuters