LIVE: Rolling Stones In Toronto

Palais Royale
Toronto, Ontario
August 16, 2002
by Richard Beland

- Aug 19, 2002

Palais Royale
Toronto, Ontario
August 16, 2002
by Richard Beland
I won’t waste too much time and space explaining how I dashed home from photographing Styx in Orillia on Thursday night (and abruptly left a friend’s stag party) to find myself sitting in line — from 12 midnight until 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with a handful of other die-hard Stones fans — for the much-anticipated, yet elusive, secret Toronto club gig. After all, you don’t really need to know my story. Suffice it to say, my trials and tribulations were rewarded with a $10 ticket (no additional service charge!) and with the promise of a truly historic rock 'n' roll moment. But you might like to know that Danko Jones opened the show. Lucky fellows. If you’ve ever seen Danko Jones before, there’s not much to say that you don’t already know about the band’s performance. They delivered their typical high-energy brand of sexualized rock 'n' roll. And, if star-gazing is more your bag, Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson and Sharon Stone were in attendance. What you definitely need to know, however, is that the Rolling Stones performance at the Palais Royale on Friday, August 16, 2002 was a celebration of all that’s essential about Rock 'n' Roll. At a gig of this rare magnitude, one might expect to find it stocked with idle industry types and scenesters. Not the case. Having had routine nonchalance and egos checked at the door, all in attendance were certain not to gather any moss on this evening. Security and band alike made you feel as if you were a participant and not simply a paying customer. There was no "them and us" vibe. The atmosphere was that of a private yet informal party, if you like, with a killer band! From the moment the band members strolled on stage to the time they walked off it, the air was electrified with unity and harmony. You couldn’t help but sing and dance along with Mick Jagger or find yourself busting a patented Keith Richards move along with the legendary guitarist. Musically, the band moved well within its 40-year repertoire and played many timeless classics and cover-band standards with as much enthusiasm as if they wrote them yesterday. As well, they unearthed several long-abandoned gems, such as "Torn And Frayed," and gave us a sneak preview of one of their newest tracks, "Don’t Stop." Although the set clocked in at about an hour-and-a-half, the band still took the opportunity to stretch out a bit on Otis Redding’s "I Can’t Turn You Loose" and on my favourite song of the evening, "Can’t You Hear Me Knocking." Yes I can! It’s always an over-the-top spectacle to catch the Stones in an arena or a stadium, but the club gig on Friday was duly spectacular. The intimacy of the Palais Royale venue cannot be overstated and to have it host a band that’s so fucking professional on its stage is both a wonder and an honour. While many bands thoroughly rock and others soundly roll, the Stones do both in aces. By definition, the Rolling Stones ARE Rock and Roll and, despite the fact that they are a mortal entity, on Friday night I felt as though I was within reach of a world without end. A rock 'n' roll fantasy realized! —Richard Beland

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