The VIDEO: Rolling Stones at private gig, at Toronto's Phoenix Club, Aug. 10, 2005

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In honor of their ongoing 50th Anniversary Tour…

This Stones performance is from the surprise club gig in Toronto, August 10, 2005, which the band did just before kicking off its 2005 Bigger Bang Tour. And, I was there as a special guest of the band (well, sort of). For that story, see the article below, which I penned at the request of a Rolling Stones fan magazine in Europe.

I took all of the slideshow photos. Bear in mind that, back in 2005, cam devices hadn’t yet proliferated as much as they have today. And, besides, we were told that photography was not allowed. Well, that wasn’t going to deter me, and I smuggled my camera in (I’ll never tell where I had THAT hidden!). The Stones organization obviously wasn’t bothered by this, though, since they later published some of these photos on the band’s website.

Here is the set list from that evening’s festivities:

Rough Justice (new)
Live with Me
19th Nervous Breakdown (reworked)
She’s So Cold
Dead Flowers
Back of My Hand (new)
Ain’t to Proud to Beg
Infamy (new)
Oh, No, Not You Again (new)
Stand for your Rights (Bob Marley)
Mr. Pitiful (Otis Redding)
Tumbling Dice
Brown Sugar
Jumpin Jack Flash

One of many highlights was “19th Nervous Breakdown”. They slowed it down, and gave it a bluesy, boozy, sleazy sound, if you can imagine that. Clearly, it was an experiment, and I’m not aware that they’ve performed it that way again. Still, Mick’s comment at the end of the song was, “That was all right…I liked that.” I liked it, too! He also told us that this was the first time they’d performed “She’s So Cold” before an audience.

Keith (my personal favorite) was, as usual, swaggering, happy, gracious and funny. He thanked us all for being their pre-tour “guinea pigs”.

Cheers, and I hope you enjoy the videos.

Magazine article:

My Toronto Gig Experience: 2000 Light Years from Home

Sure, seeing the Stones live was a treat, but much of the experience was disappointing. It was a sweltering 95 degrees and, having gotten into the venue at 11 a.m., the boys didn’t meander onto stage until nearly midnight that night! By then, the crowd was surly and desperate, crushing forward toward the stage as the first chords were struck. We were in a football stadium, and on the field where there was no seating. It was all very uncomfortable, and pretty scary. I spent as much time protecting myself and my date as I did watching the band!

But, I have no hard feelings. After all, that was very long ago, in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 4, 1975. As a college student, it was on that day that I attended my first Stones gig, and I’ve been to quite a few since then. I reflected on all of this over a cup of coffee on an Air Canada jet as I traveled to see them at Toronto’s Phoenix Club on August 10, 2005. This, I knew, would be 2000 light years away from my first encounter with the Rolling Stones.

Just after midnight, and on the day of the private show, I happened to be sitting in front of my computer when I received a unique email. I was stunned by the coy message from the Rolling Stone Fan Club (of which I was a member, since joining gave you advance ticket sale access). “Shhhhhhh! You didn’t hear it from us, but the Rolling Stones are playing a surprise club show on Wednesday, August 10th and The Rolling Stones Official Fan Club wants to get you on the list! The Fan Club is giving a select group of fans the chance to see the Stones perform live before the A Bigger Bang tour even begins!” The note directed me to respond to the email, and explained that PERHAPS I’d be selected. Teasingly, the missive cautioned, “If you hear your phone ringing between the hours of 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM EST, don’t pull the plug, don’t put a pillow over your head, pick it up!”

And, the call did come, at 7:50 a.m. The nice Stones PR lady informed me that I had until 3 p.m. to get to the Toronto Four Seasons Hotel, retrieve my ticket and then go on to the club for the evening performance.

Toronto? I lived in Washington, DC! “So”, I said to her, “you are inviting me to drop everything, spend a ton of dough on last-minute airfare, hotel and ground transportation, and bust my ass in order to see the Rolling Stones at this exclusive gig tonight?” She responded in the affirmative and, with no hesitation, I declared, “Sign me up!!!”

The rest is history, as they say, and the boys’ amazing show has been well documented in these pages and elsewhere. The Stones were artistically stellar that night, the crowd was pleasant and the venue was very comfortable. It was an experience of a lifetime for me, and quite the mirror image of my first Stones encounter many years ago.

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