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Rolling Stones launch an exhibition of themselves at the Saatchi Gallery in London

AFP , Tuesday 5 Apr 2016
Mick Jagger
British singer and frontman of rock band The Rolling Stones Mick Jagger performs during a concert at Ciudad Deportiva in Havana, Cuba, on March 25, 2016 (Photo: AFP)
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Mick Jagger's outlandish costumes, Keith Richards' guitars and the filthy London flat they shared are on show in an exhaustive exhibition dedicated to The Rolling Stones which opened Tuesday.

"Exhibitionism", which offers an interactive and multi-sensory trip through the life of the iconic British rock band, opened its doors to the public at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

The group, which first formed in 1962, are still rocking and rolling 54 years later, fresh from a groundbreaking concert in Cuba and with their first studio album since 2005 in the pipeline.

"Right now it's an interesting time to do it," said frontman Jagger.

"We've got enough stuff; in fact, too much stuff."

The band -- singer Jagger, 72; drummer Charlie Watts, 74; Richards, 72, and his fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood, 68 -- were in town for the exhibition's launch.

The gallery offers a unique plunge into the world of the Stones, spread over two levels, nine themed rooms and 1,750 square metres (18,800 sq ft) of space.

Despite the retrospective, the band is in no mood to rest on its laurels.

"We're just going to keep going 'til we can't go anymore," says a quote from Richards on one gallery wall.

By way of proof, a new album is on the way.

"We just started it before Christmas," said Jagger.

Wood added: "We accidentally cut 11 songs in two days of cover versions of blues songs from Little Walter to Howling Wolf and lots of other rare blues people.

"It's very exciting and it's what the band is all about."

The exhibition, which runs until September 4, is much like a Stones concert: a spectacle of raucous sound and colour on a grand scale.

There is also good business being done: tickets start at £19 ($27, 24 euros).

The slick exhibition venue makes a stark contrast with one of the show's gems: a recreation of the band's first shared apartment -- "a pigsty", according to Richards.

The flat at 102 Edith Grove in Chelsea -- at the other end of the King's Road from the Saatchi Gallery -- is filled with dirty crockery, cigarette butts, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, and old socks on an unmade bed.

"It was a pretty stinky, disgusting place," said Jagger.

"But Edith Grove was very formative and elemental in our relationships, listening to music and sharing experiences and just living, generally."

The smell Jagger talks about is revived, with visitors assaulted by the aroma of chicken tandoori -- the singer's favourite dish -- and of the fish and chips preferred by his old flatmates.

Jagger, Richards, Brian Jones, the band's guitarist who died in 1969, and their friend James Phelge shared the flat between 1962 and 1963.

Among the other eight rooms is a reconstruction of Olympic Studios, where the group recorded their first single, "Come On", several other records and also the 1968 documentary film "Sympathy for the Devil".

The exhibition is a treasure trove for Stones fans.

Concert posters, rare videos, drafts of song lyrics are among the hundreds of relics bearing witness to the band's evolution over six decades.

Richards has loaned several of his guitars, including a 1957 Gibson Les Paul he painted himself while he was "bored, waiting to go to jail", he said.

A whole room is dedicated to an array of stage outfits, chiefly those worn by Jagger, some lurid and some designed by his late partner L'Wren Scott.

The final room takes visitors backstage, then into a theatre where they can don 3D glasses to watch a giant screen film of the group performing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction".

Fans are plunged straight into their 2013 concert in London's Hyde Park, surrounded by the overwhelming flash and thunder of the Stones doing what they do best.

Ironically for the wild-living Richards, he doesn't quite see it like that.

"There's two places in this world where I can get some peace and quiet: one is on stage and the other one's in the studio," he said.

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