Since my dad was the one who got the free tickets to see the stones from a fisherman friend of his, we ended up going just the two of us. I didn't find out until just before the Stones came on that my dad had never been to a rock concert in his life. So of course starting with the biggest one that will ever happen around here makes all kinds of logical sense.
My review of the Stones concert at Magnetic Hill is inside.
The trip over was pretty uneventful. I took a stack of CDs along and since we were going to see a show I started to talk about what we were listening to and why I enjoyed it or what I thought interesting about each album. Explaining the way Sarah Slean takes her classical music training and infuses that into Day One's essentially punk rock sound, or talking about what the hell Gord Downie was on about in some song or other on Music@Work, normally we would talk about something that we are both interested in separately, like politics or business or philosophy, but since the topic of the day was music I just figured I might as well explain what it is about it that takes up so much of my attention.
The first band to play was Les Trois Accords from Quebec, they sang and did their between-song banter in French, lending strength to my hypothesis that all Quebecers think that everyone in Moncton speaks French. They were fun to listen to, though, with hard rocking upbeat tunes. They sounded like they were on top of the world playing in front of so many people.
Our Lady Peace even disappointed my mediocre expectations for them. At least they did play their old Much Music favourites. The between-song banter was limited to 'thank you's and 'it's so great to be here's, very dull, indeed. The only exception was Raine Maida's attempt to get political on us, saying ÃThis song is called 'Wipe That Smirk Off Your Face'... it's kind of indirectly referencing a certain politician.. George W. Fucking Bush.Ã (oh, edgy!)
During the last song they did they got the audience to sing along. Never before have I heard a sing-along crowd at a big concert made up entirely of female voices. Congratulations, Our Lady Peace, you're officially inducted into the order of band who are more famous than they deserve thanks to a photogenic lead singer. Take your place alongside The Cardigans, Bush and Garbage and tell David Usher I said 'hi Ã play Silver'.
Nearby quote from just before Maroon 5 started playing: ÃIs this Maroon 5? It is? OK, do you want to go for a walk then?Ã I don't listen to Magic 93 so I don't know anything about this band or any of their songs. This seemed to be the time of day for people to get up to take a leak and buy $3 hot dogs before the Tragically Hip and the Stones came on.
They opened with Grace, Too from Day For Night, where Gord got to ad lib some lyrics about getting off a helicopter for a photo Raine Maida shouldn't have even bothered. He reminds me of half the people I run into most days, very angry but not really sure why.)
The Hip's set was wall-to-wall well-known hits. With the one obvious missing song, but he did make up some bits about hurricanes ripping up the Mississippi in the intro to 'Nautical Disaster', and then used the phrase 'New Orleans is Sinking', causing the obviously confused casual Hip fans in the crowd to cheer and then feel bad about it and stop abruptly.
Sadly the Hip only had a 55 minute set, which isn't enough time for Gord Downie to get really worked up enough to go into one of his famous rants. Also the crowd wasn't the expectant and oddness-hungry crowd you would get at a smaller (by comparison) show where they were the main attraction. People cheered for familiar songs like 'Little Bones', but it wasn't up for egging Gord on during one of his flourishes of wordplay. Not as good as the other Hip shows I've seen but I still love to hear those songs.
It was still very light out when the Hip ended their set, so I knew we were in for a long wait standing on the long-dead grass and giving expectant cheers to every sound guy and roadie to come on the stage.
On a side note, we did learn the chance of someone needing an emergency appendectomy on a given day: 80,000 to 1.
All afternoon the bands have been playing in front of a seven-story high steel tower that just served to make them look very very small. The entire thing was to provide light and background video for the Stones, and as soon as it was dark enough it exploded into light, with some excitement-building science-fictiony tunes behind what looked like an iTunes visualization. But that quickly gave way to a round of fireworks from the sides of the stage and the opening chords to 'Start Me Up'.
I refrained from any 'haha, they're old' jokes all day out of respect for the fact that they're even still playing music at all, which most bands surely won't be doing. But they didn't need any of my charitable thoughts. Their playing was very tight, they sounded great with the backing musicians on stage, Keith Richards and Ron Wood kept together very well, and Mick was running around the stage like a teenager while I was thinking that my feet were starting to hurt.
They ended up playing for over hour and a half, maybe closer to two hours, and got in every single song I wanted to hear, including 'Ruby Tuesday', 'Sympathy for the Devil' and 'Paint it Black' which they played back-to-back and made it totally evil, with huge flames erupting from the lighting towers for the first 'Pleased to meet ya', don't forget my name', and also did a really nice job singing 'In the Nighttime' as a little tribute to Ray Charles.
They also played a few songs off of their latest album, which sound just like their familiar stuff, no great musical departure, to be sure, but still good rock'n'roll music. There was a group of French girls standing next to me who even seemed to know the words to 'Tough Justice'. I was impressed, they're not just a re-union band, to be sure.
While the light show was spectacular, and I was happy to get up to about 30m from the stage, I was not expecting it to actually be mobile, but at one point the lights all went out, and when they came back on, they had all moved to a side stage only about 10 meters from where I was standing. By sheer chance I ended up with one of the best views in the entire park. I don't know why more people didn't want to get up close, I guess it's just the festival crowd's way. I shouldn't complain. (Sadly, my camera wasn't co-operating with the spotlight and all my pictures of this part of the show are super-saturated) Seeing Charlie Watts from the side sitting at his drums made him look even more like just a regular old man while Mick and Keith hammed it up in front of him.
At the end the did a totally energetic performance of 'Brown Sugar', and pre-empted calls for a real encore by going off stage for about two minutes and then coming back on to play 'Satisfaction' before leaving in another storm of fireworks.
My dad knew all the classic Stones songs and he said he had a lot of fun, so it turned out to be a great idea to go together. He doesn't do many things that might lead to fun so when it happens it's definitely a good thing. Also getting to see a rock concert where he knew the songs and the band well enough that he wasn't in unfamiliar waters, not being one to listen to much rock music at all, was a total shot of good fortune.