Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens April 25, 1965
It was girls, girls, shrieking hysterical girls when the Rolling Stones -- Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richard (as he was known in those early days, to distinguish himself from Cliff Richards, as if anybody would ever confuse the two) played their first Toronto gig, but only four had to be treated for fainting spells by the St. John Ambulance attendants on hand. Sixty police officers had been posted to the concert to prevent the crowd of about 10,000 from climbing the stage during the show, and prevent them from storming the backstage. As for the music, reviewers complained that 'no melody was audible' -- just noise from guitars cranked to the limit, constant throbbing from the drum kit and screams from hysterical fans in what the Globe called a "ferocious one-night stand."
Maple Leaf Gardens Oct. 31, 1965
"Worse than the Beatles" is how one usher described the scene of 11,000 screaming fans at a concert that produced "mass hysteria." The band was in town for less than 24 hours, but still had time to give a press conference where they complained about the media and manager Andrew Oldham forced an out of town radio journalist tp destroy his tape because he was asking "stupid questions."
Maple Leaf Gardens, June 29, 1966
The audience of 11,000 was mesmerized by the 43-minute set that included hits This Will Be the Last Time, Time is On My Side, Here I Comes, Get Off My Cloud, Satisfaction, screaming every time Jagger cocked his head or lifted an arm. Police were kept busy ejecting a constant stream of tear-stained fans as they rushed the stage, and the show stopped at one point when a fan somehow climbed onto a net covering the rear stage seats, presumably hoping to negotiate the 25-foot drop to her heroes, and a photo of a fan being dragged off the stage by police made the front page of this paper.
Maple Leaf Gardens July 15, 1972
The 1972 tour lives on as the year the Stones -- Wyman, Richard, Jagger, Watts and Mick Taylor -- solidified their rep as the wildest boys rock 'n' roll every produced. Six hundred police officers were on hand to prevent the rioting that broke out at earlier gigs accross the continent. Frisking 35,000 concertgoers produced a wagon-full of contraband liquor, marijuana and hashish. The show itself had turned from rock 'n' roll to the theatre of rock and roll, but nobody cared. Even tired from performing two shows a night, Mick Jagger was still, according to reporter Jack Batten, "the single most exciting musical performer at work this moment."
Maple Leaf Gardens June 17 and 18, 1975
Mick Taylor was gone, but Ron Wood makes his Toronto debut as a Stone on loan from band the Faces, meanwhile Billy Preston almost stole the show as a session man on piano with some blistering solos. The stage design included a 12-foot high penis shaped balloon popped out of the middle of the stage during the song Star Star - whose lyrics were considered too randy to be printable at the time provided some memorable moments for the 36,000 who packed the gardens which, in the steamy summer heat resembled "a sold-out locker room."
El Mocambo Club March 4 and 5, 1977
Considered by many to be the only Toronto rock concerts that ever mattered, period. Half of the 600 who had won concert tickets from a radio contest tickets thought they were going to a recording session of April Wine, the others thought they had won a private party invite to hang out with the Stones. They were both partially right, and Stones' wild two-hour shows live on in singles Crackin' Up and Mannish Boy. From the first note, reported Paul McGrath, "folks were dancing on chairs and the tables, spilling beer fans had paid for on the own everywhere." The band was in top form, although Keith Richard, still smarting from being busted for heroin possession six days earlier, looked "shaken and morose." And of course, Canadian politics were forever transformed when Maggie Trudeau arrived to the Elmo with Mick Jagger and was seen mingling with the band after the show.
Oshawa Civic Auditorium, April 22, 1979
Judge Lloyd Graburn put Richards on probation for his heroin charge, but ordered him to perform a benefit concert at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The judge had apparently been swayed by Richards's friendship and concern for a blind fan, 24-year-old Rita Bedard from Montreal who attended several Stones concerts. Instead of performing at the CNIB, Richards and his band The New Barbarians (featuring Ron Wood) performed a double bill with the Stones at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium with proceeds going to the institute.
Exhibition Stadium, September 3 and 4, 1989
It was on Steel Wheels that The Stones' had their triumphant return to Toronto. Ten years since they played along with Richards's court-ordered gig, they filled SkyDome with more than 60,000 people on both nights in a production that was pure showmanship - if a little commercial to be pure rock 'n' roll. A two-hour 27 song set list (nearly one for each year they'd been playing) covered the classics and new work while the crowd was dazed with the spectacular staging including a lightshow and 50-foot inflatable dolls for Honky Tonk Woman. And in a nod to his past friendship with Margaret Trudeau, Jagger joked I was a little bit worried when I saw Mrs. Mulroney backstage, but everything's cool."
SkyDome, Dec. 3 and 4, 1989
The only danger at this show was the 20th anniversary of Altamount, the infamous 1969 concert where a fan was stabbed by a member of the Hell's Angels, lurking in the background. Reviewers cynically dismissed it as Steel Wheels part II while admitting the rehashing, of their earlier September gigs was still a nonetheless professional, crowd-pleasing gig and the last time Bill Wyman would perform as a Stone in Toronto.
RPM July 19, 1994
With the Stones in town all month, invading Crescent school to rehearse their upcoming concert tour for Voodoo Lounge, rumours had been running wilder than Mick Jagger with a Brazilian supermodel that the band would play a small club gig. With only a few hours notice, the club was still swarmed and 1,000 people paid a mere $5 to catch the band recapture the spirit of the Elmo days. Somebody captured the band's wardrobe -- a trunk containing some of the Stones' stage clothes went missing after the show.
Exhibition Stadium, August 19 and 20, 1994
Mick Jagger continues to prance on stage like a man on fire, the band was as gutsy as it ever was, although "Stone age" jokes are now officially de rigueur. Embracing their past, the set list has all the standards but also starts revisiting older bluesier material, opening the show with Not Fade Away, the Buddy Holly hit that first launched them on the U.S. charts.
The SkyDome Dec. 3, 1994
Despite having played four gigs in Toronto this year, this last show still managed to pack in 50,000 fans, some who worried this might be a farewell tour. A 2½ hour show was like playing Hot Rocks, the Stones' divine compilation CD but it still almost took second place to the increasingly spectacular staging, Reviewer Alan Niester called the set "an oil refinery designed by Salvador Dali' complete with shooting fireballs, a collection of inflatable heads and a fireworks display that would put Parliament Hill on July 1 to shame.
The Horseshoe Tavern, September 4 1997
Mick Jagger became our favourite rock star when he thanked the city during another "surprise" gig at the end of the band's rehearsal period for their upcoming Bridges to Babylon tour. "We've been very well treated here in Toronto. Everyone's been really, really good to us."
The SkyDome, April 26, 1998
The blow up dolls of yore were missing this time around, but the sex appeal of the band was in full force. Richards, Jagger, Wood and Watts sauntered on the stage in matching full length animal print velvet coats, adding a little sophistication to the opening number, Satisfaction, but not for long. The coats were off by the second song, Let's Spend the Night Together, and Jagger was back to his "usual chest-stroking moves" noted reviewed Simona Chiose.
Air Canada Centre, February 25, 1999
Jagger was in full swagger, and the band was up to their old tricks, but something was missing from the concert: the usual hits. Sure the Stones get tired of playing Satisfaction, but that's what the audience wanted, -- and didn't get - with a set list that seemed dominated by newer tracks. And although it did open with Jumpin' Jack Flash, for the first time ever, Toronto concert-goers - boomers, now -- remained mostly seated through the act.
Palais Royale Ballroom Aug. 16, 2002.
Fans started lining up the night before the show when word broke about the location of this surprise club gig, now a tradition for the band that makes Toronto its summer home as they rehearse their upcoming world tours. About 1,500 people paid $10 to get into the lakeside venue, while a police boat chased away would-be seafaring Stones fans from the water.
Air Canada Centre, Oct 16, 2002 and The SkyDome, Oct. 18, 2002
Tickets topped at $350. A miniature orange blimp stamped with corporate logos trundled through arena. The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band started to feel like a real trademark. No matter. The 58,000 fans lapped up the Licks tour, celebrating 40 years of the Stones.