Opening Statement



Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Rolling Stones in Toronto: Phoenix Rising 2005!

In another writer lifetime, I use to do concert reviews. In special commemoration of the Rolling Stones concert in Havana Cuba last week, I would like to repost this one here. It was one of my favourite Stones shows, of the 6 or so I've seen, since the Some Girls tour in 1978. I've adding some of the photos from then. Also some audio-video links which have since surfaced, including a full audio recording of the show @ HERE! . For news + links to the Stones Cuba Show, please see the Kulture Kult Ink section of my March news + Views blog @ HERE! Hope you enjoy the shows!



Stones at the Phoenix! More pix 2 come!

How was it?

In a word?

Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't walk anymore. I can't talk. I can't hear. But I don't care. I've died and gone to heaven....................

Early afternoon Toronto time. I'm drenched. Walking south on Sherbourne Street in the summer down pour. Wet relief. The heat had finally snapped, if just for one unreal moment.



A Stones Club Show for $10?!? Cheap! Yup!

But I know. You don't want to hear too much more about the wild line up party that raged on with all our good Stones friends. About the mosquito drone of the media trying to suck us dry for another slow summer news story on-why-are-you-so-crazy?

About how the excited old man in the tacky poker suit, doing his Casino Boogie for the cameras, had peed his pants. About how the street wacko with the hand painted picture of Jesus on the Mount hit me on the head with it, then fled howling down the street. 

How I'd distractedly but in good natured manner, while trying to be helpful, told him he could go get it signed by Mick, who'd just arrived
at the gate. Apparently the message was supposed to be that we are facing eternal damnation for worshiping false gods... why I'll be damned!!! It's a hard call- who are the sinners, who are the saints, outside the gates of a Stones club gig?!? :-)



Pure summer Stones mayhem a la Sherbourne Street Toronto..... And the Phoenix was about to soar!

Suddenly the earth shook beneath my feet! The pagan gods had spoken! We were moving towards the door!

Security shook us down. We were about the 24th and 25th  through, from the line-up. There were already a significant number of good Stones friends, plus assorted "beautiful people" and other icky show biz types etc. etc. etc. already there.

We bellied up standing about three very tight steps back from our stage right. A proscenium stage with a short runway in the centre. Maybe 5 feet high. We were in front of Keith, just to the left of Mick.


How close were we? Keifer was grinning in our face as he and Ronnie stumbled out onto stage, and leaned into their thundering guitars. The Phoenix exploded to the heavy beat of "Rough Justice" [Video]. 

In the club setting I thought it was a damn fine little hard Stones summer rocker. From up on his mount Charlie smiled, held down a steady beat. Mick raced out onto the runway, with microphone in hand, growling out the lyrics. From below, I looked up, could see the fillings in his teeth.

Next came one of the best live "Live with Me"s" [VideoI have ever heard!!! Mick was absolutely demonic, as he strutted about like some crazed Nijinsky hind. Seething, Taunting. Sex. Keith coaxed and teased every note he could from his guitar. Effortlessly, it seemed, but with grace and satisfaction, like he'd been no doubt doing it all his life, but would never grow tired. It was pure, raw, undistilled rock and Rolling Stones!

Everyone, the Stones included, seemed to step back for just a moment, to catch our breath, as they then launched into a slow, and bluezy rocking "19th Nervous Breakdown", with the whole band, and of course the faithful in the audience, joining in the chorus. It was a fitting anthem, I thought, for my past week or so getting in here to be with the boys, to once again join in our communion of song. The Stones had arrived. The Stones are back!!!!!!

Next Mick cranked back up the Stones hot rock machine with a real rollicking over the top version of "She's So Cold" that actually sent a chill down my spine. This was the Stones in fine seventies form again, knocking out one of their hopeful hit single type songs, and this time
scoring. I've had some mixed feelings about this song over the years. A little trite? Not with this uninhibited rock and roll edge,
it really shined!


Mick pulled out his guitar for "Dead Flowers". The building heats up again. The air-condioner blows out a mist of condensation. I drift thru the guitar strings, back to the early seventies, as a teen, when this favourite first came out. Hunched up in the back of our family car, on summer vacation with good old mom and dad, who -God bless 'em, but not at the time, said, "If you gotta listen to that, all day long, put on your headphones!!!!!" 

In my minds eye, I'm still there, but it's 2005 now. We've gone over the top of the new millennium. Crank it up, I say! Every note, hanging above me, live,in the air. It's a swirl of great Stones country rock, with deep roots for me, a lifetime of memories................

Next Mick really surprised me, during "Back of My Hand". I thought he out did himself. When he usually pulls out his guitar on stage, it's often helped flesh out the sound perhaps, but never been especially interesting or spectacular. Tonight he treated us, by deftly doing some slide, to lovingly stretch out those powerful blues notes, throbbing, lingering in the hushed air of anticipation -what next?!?!?

Well, we got our Stones Motown Temptations pick o' the night, "Ain't Too Proud". The horns were really pumping, while Mick strut about, cocky as ever. I didn't need to be coaxed to join in singing on that one!


Keith treated us to the premier of "Infamy" A thoughtful, quirky tune. In his own gruff Keifer manner, he did it with grace and aplomb. It was risky in a way. It's harder for us, in the audience, to get a handle on a new song,
when most of us haven't heard it before. But I knew right away this moment would always flash back as a first, whenever I hear this new
Keith classic from now on. It was great!

The boys ratchet up the volume a bit with a rollicking version of "Oh No, Not You Again". Lots of fun interplay between Keith and Ronnie, as they joked about. Ronnie clowning with the different guitar parts, as they knocked together a weave. Kind of a toss off, but as a quickie throw away rocker, I think it still has potential. It will be interesting to see how they fine tune it live on stage in the months ahead. Maybe it will work, maybe not -but at an impromptu club off the cuff club gig like this, it was a neat one off to throw into the mix.

Now. I don't care what anyone else may say, or think, but for me, the next two songs were cathartic. They pushed me over the top. This was my defining moment, where one snaps at a Stones concert and goes over the top, knowing there's no looking back. All the tension to the build up, the loooooong waits, often hours, days, months, years, suddenly just breaks. It's over. I'm here with the Stones a few feet away. Yes, we've all survived. It's summer 2005, the big night I'll always remember, never forget, as a fan I'll take it to the grave.


It began as a trance with the Stones launching into what is definitely my Marley-Tosh favourite, "Get Up-Stand Up" [Video]. Keith cranking out the reggae rhythm, Ronnie’s bopping up and down plugging in the fills. Charlie and Daryl holding down the bottom end, the beat shaking the Phoenix to it's very foundations. Bernard and Lisa dance. Sway. Stick out their tongues. Pure delirium. Mick raises his hands in the air, beckoning us all to join in, clap along, chant the chorus. It becomes like a wave, washing back and forth, between them and us. Purifying whatever ails you. Real. Imagined. It no longer exists. Nothing does, only us and the Stones, now washed clean. It's transporting- like one doesn't even exist anymore. Stand up for your rights! The right to be!

There is only now; a total communion of heart and soul, united in music, friendship, the very moment. It is everything, the essence of our
humanity baby. It is us. We are it. We are all here. Together. Again. Well, perhaps I get carried away, but if you've ever been there, be it in a club, a concert, at a party, listening to their music, I think you'll know what I mean. After a Stones musical, nay-spiritual orgy like this, one is
never the same again!!!! ;-)

Of course it wasn't just this song, tho it happened to do it for me, but everything they played before hand carefully leading up to this moment, and everything that was to follow....


I was in complete stupefaction as Mick did his best Otis Redding -"Mr. Pitiful" [Videoindeed. The cocky swagger, the self depreciating supine heart on the floor pleading, of our soul brother number one. Otis lives! He's risen from the dead! He's strutting across the stage, a Jagger possessed. No doubt, Mick, like anyone else who's grown up with this song, knows every punchy nuance, every little quirk, and twist, and he is soul. 

Otis has taken over his body. The horns too, I betcha they've worn out every damn vinyl copy of that record they've ever had -it's note perfect in every sense. And we've got the feel too. Matter of fact I can feel nothing else. I swear to God there were periods here where I began to fade in and out, I no longer existed, I was just there, as I let go again, singing and dancing up a storm. Hallelujah, it's a soul revival time for me and the Stones and anybody else who cares to catch and share the vibe!!!!

At this point the Stones once again shifted into overdrive, if that is even
possible, they outdid outdoing themselves with back to back versions of "Tumbling Dice" and "Brown Sugar". Guitars cranked. Drums pounding. Horns blasting. Lisa and Bernard dancing up a storm. Mick jumping up and down driving these Hot Rocks home like a Stone reborn. Too familiar a choice? So what. It was primordial. The fans carried the songs, the rhythm, the chant, fists and hands in the air, waving in unison. It was like the boys were just riding the wave.


A wave? Shit it was like a tsunami, that came crashing down on us. Mick sprinkles his water bottle over the crowd. We are the anointed. And it keeps building, every note, word, chord. To come crashing down on us
full force. This is it -we are the Stones, and they are us, and they are ............ gone?!

Clap! Clap! Clap! We are in freefall……

 But of course they'll come back. A constant in our lives. Best in person, of course, and here they are again, as the boys rip into a kick ass "Jumping Jack Flash", Keith’s gritty, swirling guitar reverberating back and forth, from the past, and now once again into the future!

All hail the Rolling Stones!!! Rock and roll shaman and conquering heroes!!! In a Phoenix rising to pure rock and roll ecstasy!!!! A communion of souls, the faithful, the true believers..............

A Bigger Bang? Indeed! I'm totally Rolling Stoned!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)



You can buy an official download of the "Light the Fuse" show from the Stones website @ HERE!

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