Fans line up outside T.O. Stones show
TORONTO (CP) — Lying on a patch of dried grass just outside Downsview Park, a tired-looking Haley Rose is gearing up for the massive Rolling Stones concert Wednesday.
The 20-year-old university student and two friends drove to the concert venue some 260 kilometres from Kingston, Ont., to find themselves first in line Monday evening for the big show.
But they weren’t alone for long. Twenty-four hours before the all-day music festival was to begin, other fans were also in a queue waiting to enter the 320-hectare field that will host the spectacle.
By noon Tuesday, about two dozen people were camped outside one of three gates, some draped in Canadian flags, others in Stones T-shirts.
For Rose, the event is much bigger than an economic recovery project for Toronto in the aftermath of a SARS outbreak that hit the city in March.
“Nothing can beat Woodstock but this will be close,” she said. “We planned our trip the second tickets went on sale. I saw the Stones in October and they were awesome. I want to see them again.”
For others the inconvenience and stress of sleeping outdoors without any camping gear except blankets (in accordance with concert rules and regulations) is worth the chance of seeing their idols up close.
“It’s a big band. I don’t want to be in the back and have to watch screens. That’s not why I came,” said Erin Emms, from Orillia, Ont., who was ninth in line after arriving at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Inside Downsview Park, a large sign emblazoned with the word Toronto in giant red letters hung over the concert stage, the middle “o” replaced with a picture of the Stones’ trademark tongue logo. An enormous Canadian flag was draped across the back wall of the stage.
The Rolling Stones’ production director said the band was looking forward to the show, which he promised would be monumental.
“This is a huge undertaking,” Jake Berry said at a sunny outdoors news conference in front of the stage, where construction crews were busy with last minute details. “We’re going to be the size of Woodstock.”
However, Woodstock was planned in a year, he noted.
“We just call this Woodstock in a month here,” he joked. “This is going to be superb. It’s the biggest rock show in the world.”
Further down the way, crews were busy setting up barbecue stations. Signs reading “Sticky Fingers,” and “Award winning baby back ribs” adorned the section dubbed the Quarter Mile BBQ.
Chefs from as far away as Florida will be selling all Canadian beef products including things like steak on a bun.
“We’re just trying to do a good job with beef,” said Larry Murphy, from Alabama who will be serving beef all day Wednesday.
Up to 450,000 people were expected to attend the concert, which begins at noon Wednesday and is aimed at boosting Toronto’s economy.
Nine video screens and 36 sound delay towers will ensure all attendees, including 45,000 U.S. ticket holders, can watch and hear the concert, said Berry.
The headline act Rolling Stones arrived in Toronto on Monday night to a welcoming party of about 100 fans waiting outside the Four Seasons hotel downtown.
The band will be playing a 90-minute set to close out the show, which begins at noon. Other acts include Justin Timberlake, AC/DC, the Guess Who, Flaming Lips and Isley Brothers.
Among the dignitaries taking part in the revelry: Premiers Ralph Klein of Alberta, Gary Doer of Manitoba, Lorne Calvert of Saskatchewan and Ernie Eves of Ontario, federal Health Minister Anne McLellan, federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief and Liberal leadership hopeful Paul Martin.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien wasn’t scheduled to attend although some organizers said he may make a surprise appearance.
Fans line up outside T.O. Stones show