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The Rolling Stones @ the Phoenix 8/10/2005


TimmyB
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Rolling Stones - 8/10/2005 - The Pheonix - Toronto, ON

Show Review

By Tim Batke

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Jaggermeister

The majority of the fans that were lucky enough to get into the Phoenix Concert Theatre last night to see the Rolling Stones likely went from one extreme to another.

For the most part over the past thirty years you could only see the Rolling Stones at a football stadium in the nearest big city in the province or state in which you live. It was not until the Stones 'No Security Tour' in 1999 that you could even see the band in an basketball and/or hockey arena since the early seventies.

For most Stones fans in Toronto that got into the surprise club gig their last Stones show was at the Toronto Rock/Sarstock show on July 30, 2003. So many fans went from seeing the Rolling Stones perform in front of around 490,000 people at Downsview Park to around 1,000 people at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. I was one of those fans and I can honestly say that I will never see that big of a change from one crowd to the next for one band for the rest of my life.

I will not lie to you people reading this I am a big fan of the Rolling Stones. I have all of their albums and The Phoenix show was my eighth time seeing the band starting in 1994 and before this upcoming tour is over I'll have probably see them at least two more times.

That being said I still can look with objectivity at a Rolling Stones concert and say what I love about the band and why, but also say what I don't enjoy and why.

Now my biggest complaint about a stadium and/or arena Rolling Stones gig is this, the stage is so huge that often Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood are running around too much not focusing on playing the guitars strapped on them as much as they should.

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When it comes to Mick Jagger, he can run around as much as he likes, as for the majority of the show he is not playing a guitar and even when he is, it is usually not an important part of the song. But in Keith and Ronnie case I sometimes wish they would just stand on one spot and play like Eric Clapton stands and plays his guitar.

Now this complaint has not stopped me from going to Stones concerts and it will not stop me from going, as the interplay between Keith and Ronnie is still great and often times brilliant. I'm just pointing out my least favorite thing about a stadium/arena Stones show to make this point.

Last night Keith and Ronnie had no where to run! With the small club stage of the Phoenix and when all of the backing vocalists and the horn section was playing there was up to thirteen people on stage. So Keith and Ronnie were often shoulder to shoulder playing off each other and I was focused on that for most of the night loving every moment.

Being three rows of people back from the front at the Phoenix would be like being right on stage with the Mick, Keith and the boys and girl at the Rogers Centre (formerly the Skydome). I was literally less three meters from Keith and Mick the entire night.

Being this close one thing becomes abundantly clear, either the Rolling Stones are actors worthy of an academy award or they really love performing live. I tend to believe the latter. Mick was so into the entire show, and by the way in fine vocal form, that during their performance of Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" the song ends and Mick still into it starts singing again with the crowd forcing the band to go through the chorus a couple more times.

"Get Up, Stand Up" was one of five debuts for the Stones first gig of the "On Stage Tour." They also performed a great version of Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful," who would have surely appreciated the Stones again paying homage to him as he was a Stones fan that even covered the Stones (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

The Stones also debuted three new songs from their forthcoming studio album out September 6, 2005 entitled 'A Bigger Bang." The opening track of the night was also the opener on the album called "Rough Justice." The Stones haven't opened their shows with a new song for years, but they could possibly pull it off even in the stadiums with "Rough Justice." I also believe that if this upcoming tour is not their last "Rough Justice" would go over well in a couple years just like the Stones consistently perform "You Got Me Rocking" from their 1994 album 'Voodoo Lounge.'

The next debut off the new album was the bluesy "Back of My Hand." Mick Jagger played guitar on this number, which is not unusual as at each show he does play guitar for a few songs, but Jagger for "Back of My Hand" played slide guitar, which is something that is unusual. Jagger had the slide intro for the song and even played off of Ronnie Wood during the solo who was also playing slide.

The final debut of the night was the Keith Richards album closing track "Infamy" which was a play on words as the chorus states "You have it in for me."

The Stones also did a completely different arrangement of the 1966 hit single on both sides of the Atlantic "19th Nervous Breakdown." Mick also played guitar on this song, which was slower paced and it will be interesting if the Stones can bring this new version over well in Stadiums, but in the club it went over like gang busters.

Personal highlights for me came back to back with "She's So Cold" and "Dead Flowers." First the 1980 'Emotional Rescue' hit single "She's So Cold" is a song that the Stones could play in any environment and it would likely go over well. It's such a fun song and Mick was dancing all over just like he did twenty-five years ago when the Stones recorded the early video for the song for MTV/Much Music.

"Dead Flowers" the great country-rock track from the 1971 album 'Sticky Fingers' was my favorite song of the show. The song that many feel is a song written for the late great Gram Parsons, who was given the Stones song "Wild Horses" to record with the Flying Burrito Brothers before the Stones released it themselves. It had my mind racing all over thinking about Keith inspired by Parsons working with Mick writing such a great country song even though these two are from Dartford, Kent, England.

The rendition of the Temptations "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" recorded by the Stones for their 1974 album "It's Only Rock 'N Roll" and also released as a single was also great to hear.

The fourteen song set took to song twelve to get to some Rolling Stones staples rounding off the show with "Tumbling Dice," "Brown Sugar" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

When the final notes of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" came to an ended all the back up musicians left the stage and there was Mick, Keith and Ronnie bowing for the crowd. No Charlie Watts? I figured the grand ol' Stone was tired, he did only just recently beat cancer.

Though when the stage was empty of everybody Charlie still came out alone with a smile and waved to the crowd and took a little bow. It was a touching moment to think about all the stuff this band has gone through, drinking, drugs, police busts, Hells Angels, lineup changes cancer and ultimately death (Brian Jones and the sixth Stone Ian Stewart just to name two) and that the Stones are still around and kicking. It is quite inspiring to think about growing old when you look at the Stones.

Looking back at not sleeping for twenty-four hours and being lined up for eighteen hours straight the wait was well worth it. For me it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the greatest rock and roll band of all time so close that when Mick Jagger throws water into the crowd I actually got wet.

Amazingly enough it wasn't even a once in a lifetime opportunity for all those in Toronto that have seen the Stones perform their surprise gigs at the RPM in 1994, the Horseshoe in 1997, the Palais Royale in 2002. All Rolling Stones fans in Toronto should thank Michael Cohl for that fact. And who knows maybe I'll get to live that moment again? But if not I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

The Rolling Stones

Phoenix Concert Theatre

Wednesday August 10, 2005.

Start time 9:33PM

1. Rough Justice *

2. Live With Me

3. 19th Nervous Breakdown

4. She's So Cold

5. Dead Flowers

6. Back of My Hand *

7. Ain't Too Proud to Beg

8. Infamy *

9. Oh No Not You Again

10. Get Up, Stand Up *

11. Mr. Pitiful *

12. Tumbling Dice

13. Brown Sugar

Off 10:43PM Back 10:45PM

14. Jumpin' Jack Flash

End Set 10:50PM Off stage 10:51PM

(Total time 1 hour and 17 minutes)

* First time performed live in front of a paying audience

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