In a sweltering Toronto venue, where the heat could've slowed a less accomplished band down, the Rolling Stones delivered a show that puts to shame acts half as old. The last-minute club gig, on August 16th, was a hot ticket in every sense. Held at the Palais Royale, an eighty-one-year-old lakefront ballroom at which Count Basie and Duke Ellington once played, the Stones -- including a horn section, keyboardist and back-up vocalists -- tore through fifteen songs in less than ninety minutes.
Fan club members were alerted by email that they could purchase one ticket each during a two-hour window early that afternoon. A further 300 tickets with non-transferable wristbands went on sale outside the venue at 7 a.m. that morning for $10 (Canadian). Proceeds went to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. Later, scalpers, with the help of security and surreptitious signals, slipped people through a side door for as much as $700 per person.
The Stones, who have been in Toronto since late-July rehearsing for their upcoming Licks tour, took the stage at 10:40 p.m. On the built-in stage with a simple black backdrop and three Stones lips logos, frontman Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood, drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Daryl Jones kicked off with "It's Only Rock & Roll" and "Sad, Sad, Sad."
Just prior to "If You Can't Rock Me," Jagger joked, "I'll tell you something. We've been in the Masonic Hall for about four weeks. Don't let anyone say it sounds like four days." He looked remarkably fit in a sleeveless turquoise t-shirt emblazoned with a silver-sequined "Lick." Richards, ever Jagger's foil, was in fine form, with his knee bends and bow-and-arrow gestures, as he played. And while Richards smiled and laughed, Jagger was his usual larger-than-life self, prancing about and bearing his teeth. Interplay between Richards and Wood was minimal, as it was with Watts. The most musical exchanges were Richards and Jones.
Richards also pointed out that this was a "rehearsal" of sorts, and got his time in the spotlight with "Happy," ending with a thump to his chest and the salutation "One love." "You alright?" Jagger asked. "Perfect," he responded.
Of the fifteen songs the band played, Jagger claimed four had never before been performed onstage including the brand new single, "Don't Stop," a pop song which went over well.
"We've never done this one before, but it's going to be just perfect, I'm sure -- tempting the gods," Jagger chuckled, before launching into "Torn and Frayed" from 1972's Exile on Main Street. Later, they did another first, a version of Otis Redding's "I Can't Turn You Loose," followed shortly by yet another, Sticky Fingers' track, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking."
The show ended with a one-song encore, "Brown Sugar." The Stones launch their Licks Tour in Boston September 3rd.
It's Only Rock & Roll
Sad Sad Sad
If You Can't Rock Me
Stray Cat Blues
Honky Tonk Women
Torn and Frayed
I Can't Turn You Loose
Heart of Stone
Can't You Hear Me Knocking
Jumping Jack Flash