SHOW REVIEW: The Rolling Stones and AC/DC
The Rolling Stones and AC/DC Dominate at the Largest Show In Toronto History
By: NICK MLATCHKOV
The mega concert announced by the Rolling Stones in order to boost the struggling TO economy as a result of SARS happened to be a huge celebration for both bands and fans. The crowd in attendance at Downsview park numbered more than 415,000. Everything went according to the plan. There were no major incidents or victims of the heat. Hosts Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and CTV personality Mike Bullard kept the spirit alive until sunset which brought a major relief.
Legendary soul band the Isley Brothers /where Jimi Hendrix made his initial recordings/ continue to produce hits on Billboard Hot 100 to this day. They went on at 4 pm and momentarily grabbed the attention. Perfect vocal harmonies had been blended with istrumental virtuosity as the the Isleys presented such gems as "Shout", their first recording in 1959, 1969's "It's Your Thing", which reached #2, and the classic "Love the One You're With" that ended at #18 in 1971. The charismatic lead vocalist Ronald Isley looked young and fresh trying to attract teen chicks while brother Ernie produced brilliant guitar licks. The whole set had lasted 20 memorable minutes followed by Aykroyd - Belushi's Have Love Will Travel Revue Band. It seemed Dan and Jim had lost their ability to sing which was apparent in the smash "Have Love Will Travel". Their weakness was partly compensated by the musicians while Sass Jordan jumped in to join the back-up singers. Meanwhile, a girl flashed her boobs.
Next were Toronto's own Blue Rodeo who made the Billboard album charts with "Outskirts", "Diamond Mine" and "Casino". Singer-Guitarist Greg Keelor got lost in the crowd and headed for the stage in a hurry while co-leader Jim Cuddy had been singing the first track. They spent the set in a relaxed mood pushing up a bit during "Lost Together".
Then it was time for teenage fave Justin Timberlake and flocks of girls had been trying to make their way up closer to the gigantic stage. He was as week as a performer as expected while dressed up in the most kitschy possible way with a Harley Davidson T-shirt, baseball cap and army pants! Thus he made my list for a worst pop artist I had ever witnessed live! Even somebody tossed a plastic bottle at him. Nevertheless, shouts 'Justin, Justin!' accompanied the songs.
It was time for the evening set. The Guess Who confidently made their way up. Burton Cummings had his favourite electric piano, Randy Bachman sported a bright hawaiian shirt in addition to the custom guitars, along with bearded original drummer Garry Peterson, guitarist Donnie McDougall and bassist Bill Wallace who got aboard in 1972. They ventured into "No Time" saluted enthusiastically by the enormous crowd followed by the lovely "No Sugar Tonight/Mother Nature". Bachman announced they also perform songs of Bachman Turner Overdrive as the group had launched into "Takin' Care Of Business", welcomed by all in attendance. Oddly, it became evident the band's trademark "American Woman" is unknown to the younsters.
Many anticipared Toronto legends Rush, known for their perseverence of perfect sound, as technicians quickly were changing amps. The power trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart proved it with robotic perfection introducing complex compositions from 1981 "Moving Pictures" as "Tom Sawyer" and "The Camera Eye". Geddy, wearing a sleeveles black T-shirt, was torn apart between the bass and synth while exploring his vocal range. In "Freewill" he reached astonishingly high notes while getting emotional in "Closer To the Heart" from 1977's "Farewell To Kings". They finished with the inspiring "Spirit Of Radio".
After an even longer break, when AC/DC's infamous Marshall amps had been installed, the kings of hard boogie rock took on. Angus Young sported a velvet sleeveless jacket and shorts along with his legendary black Gibson. Shouter Brian Johnson had his traditional black beret on. They launched into "Back In Black" to grateful applauses. Next was "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" which set the tone for Bon Scott era gems met with a great rapture. "The Jack", dedicated as Johnson emphasized to a dirty girl, became the culmination point followed by fantastic renditions of "Whole Lotta Rosie", "Let There Be Rock" and "TNT' before returning to the 80's with "You Shook Me (All Night Long)", "Hell's Bells", and 90's - "Thunderstruck". At some point Angus decided it's time to undress taking off his jacket and T-shirt and then bent over ready to pull off his shorts. At the same time women were flashing tits! After a few seconds he proceeded showing off not his bare arse but a pair with the Maple Leaf embroided! AC/DC had left to great acclaim and came back as a storm with the monstrous "Highway To Hell". What a show!
The interval lasted for 45 min, though it seemed eternal, berore the bad boys of Rock'n'Roll Rolling Stones felt it was time to get on. Now the amps were all Fender as Mick dressed up in a pink raincoat run into "Start Me Up". You have to experience this 20th century cultural phenomenon in order to comprehend it. Simple words aren't enough. When the Beatles wrote "When I'm 64" in 1967 they certainly hadn't had in mind their rivals the Stones 36 years later! Currently in their 60's Mick, Keith and co don't leave the impression associated with this age group. Non stop energy was bursting from the stage as Jagger made his way up 7 times from one end to the other. Keith did it twice and Ron Wood once. Mick had a wordrobe prepared, as constantly changing outfits as Richards his axes. They run through such greats as "Brown Sugar", "You Can't Always Get (What You Want )", "Ruby Tuesday"/with striking chords on acoustic guitar by Keith/, "Honky Tonk Women" /a sign with a red tongue riding girl had been displayed on the screens/. Keyboardist Chuck Laevell had his moments as well as new bassist Daryl Johnson. Two back up singers and a horn section added to the amazing sound coming out through the pompous wall of speakers. All looked inspired by the gigantic mob applauding their gimmicks. Angus and Malcolm Young joined in on two tracks ending up with heartfelt hugs shared between them, Mick and Keith. It felt awkward when Timberlake got on for a 'duet' with Jagger on "Miss You". Justin definately looked like a puppy among buldogs! Mick had already put on his legendary T-shirt with the tongue embroided, updated with an inscription 'Toronto', when the Sones launched into the closer "(You Can't Always Get) Satisfaction". Jagger was back and forth to the ends again. The encore was expected, the boisterous "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Finally everything was - ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!
In tune, the City gave us a free ride home.