Good times roll
TORONTO — Mick Jagger was the undisputed host last night of SARS-stock, or as he called it “the biggest party in Toronto’s history!”
“You’re here and we’re here, and Toronto’s back — it’s booming,” proclaimed the 60-year-old rock icon at Downsview Park.
But by the time the Rolling Stones got started at 10 p.m, about 15 minutes later than scheduled with Start Me Up, the crowd seemed ready to wind down.
Standing in a large field under the blazing sun for 12 hours — gates opened at 8 a.m. and the sun didn’t really start to go down until 8 p.m. — will do that to you.
Still, Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood and drummer Charlie Watts, eventually warmed to the task of reviving the masses with such classics as Brown Sugar, Tumblin’ Dice, Ruby Tuesday, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, It’s Only Rock And Roll and Sympathy For The Devil.
And, eventually, the audience responded. Or at least those who weren’t fleeing the grounds in droves trying to avoid the crush of the crowd once the Stones left the stage.
“It’s a fantastic night, it’s a fantastic time,” Jagger said. “You’ve made us feel really welcome tonight. You’ve always made us feel welcome in Toronto.
The Stones interrupted their European tour to come across the Atlantic and play in the city where they’ve rehearsed for three world tours and often played surprise club shows.
The first real surprise of last night was the presence of Justin Timberlake on Miss You, although The Toronto Sun yesterday had exclusively reported the duet would occur.
Unfortunately, Jagger and Timberlake didn’t really mesh in terms of style, particularly when Timberlake inserted the chorus of his song, Cry Me A River, into the Stones’ disco-inflected chestnut.
Another strange twist was when Richards — “Unexpected visit, huh?” were the only words I was initially able to make out — took over lead vocals on a cover of the standard Nearness Of You.
Richards did much better on Happy.
“It’s good to be back,” he said. “It’s good to be anywhere!”
The only other guest to join the Stones — although U2 frontman Bono was reportedly sighted on the grounds — was AC/DC guitarist Angus Young who returned to the stage for a cover of B.B. King’s Rock Me Baby.
Young’s brief appearance was enough to re-energize the crowd and sustain them through three more Stones classics Honky Tonk Women, Satisfaction and Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
FANTASTIC, SAYS MICK
Not all the politicians were in the VIP section. Some of them were booked to play. Case in point, ladies and gentlemen, your headliners, the Rolling Stones.
“Welcome to Canada!” Mick Jagger yelled cheerfully to the backstage crowd of press, unleashing a string of “fantastics” in a fleeting meeting just before the Stones’ headline set.
“I saw the crowd from the back of the stage and it looked fantastic,” he said. “One of the most fantastic things we’ve ever seen. It is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to, so it is a fantastic event.”
But historic? “Well, in terms of numbers,” he said. “But I’m not writing history. You have to do the day first.”
For his part, Keith Richards (Charlie Watts and Ron Wood contributed little but bemused smiles) summed up his emotions thus: “I’m just waking up, and it feels great! It’s a big day for everybody.”
Jagger allowed as to how one or more of his daughters had made their way to the wings to watch Justin Timberlake. Asked for details of the clan in tow, he said enigmatically “We have tons of family everywhere! They’re all here!” he said, indicating the carpet of humanity not far away.
Hard to argue with that.
Good times roll