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
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
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