Rolling Stones Zip It Up in Quebec City
July 15th 2015 Festival D'ete Plains of Abraham Quebec City
To set things off right for the end of a tour the Rolling Stones broke the attendance record at The plains of Abraham during the Festival D’ Ete. One might expect the last night of the tour to bring about special guests or an extended setlist. Neither happened. In fact the set was one song shorter than usual due to the Festival D’ete strict curfew (something the Stones had fought against). For a band of this stature they had just a basic stage setup except for the catwalk leading to a circular mini stage. The music itself was basic blues based rock n roll with no frills. However what the Rolling Stones did was nothing basic at all. They did what they do best give an entertaining energetic two hour plus rock n roll extravaganza as only they can.
Mick Jagger is the undisputed ultimate frontman in the history of rock n roll and in particular for what is commonly known as the greatest rock n roll band. Mick strutted, poised, swayed, jumped, danced and ran along every inch of the main stage, it’s two side stage ramps, the catwalk and mini circular stage all night long never seeming to even be tired. Mick flails his arms and hips like rubber bands in a never ending workout. His constant movement left many jaws gaping in uncanny awe.
Then there’s the rhythm and lead guitar switch off’s from riff guru Keith Richards and licks master Ron Wood. These two were also enjoying running along the ramps with some fun for themselves. The ever so shy Charlie Watts kept that basic beat going but that’s all we really needed. The Stones were backed up by two keyboardists, two background vocalists, and a three piece horn section.
The night began with a brief video montage on the large video screen ending with a road sign that read Welcome To Quebec with a local postal code (The only city on this tour that does not have an actual Zip code). Keith riffed out the appropriate, Start Me Up with Mick prancing about in a shiny glitter jacket. It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It) followed and right away we were all loving it. Due to an online request in each stop of the 15 date tour Quebec City chose Street Fighting Man as it’s choice. There was Jagger punching his fists with all the angst a man in his seventies can.
The next two songs came from the classic Sticky Fingers album. This is also the reason for the tour’s name of Zip Code. It’s due to the people who are old enough to remember buying a vinyl album with an actual working zipper on it’s front cover. Standing at the microphone stand Mick was still the consummate showman with an emotional performance of the night’s “only slow song”, Wild Horses. There seemed to be some confusion amongst the band members as to what song they were supposed to play next and Mick commanded “Play something” and they tore into a rocking horn blasting Bitch.
The band introductions brought the loudest response for Ron Wood who headed out on the catwalk soaking it up. Keith Richards took centre stage for two songs Before They Make Me Run and Happy with Ronnie on lap pedal steel guitar for the later. The main highlights of the night were the next three songs. The lengthy blues nirvana of Midnight Rambler with Mick blowing on harmonica and still contorting his body in every bend and shake of his hips. Miss You had Mick playing some rhythm guitar before getting the crowd into singing along on the “oooh, Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh’s”. This song featured a saxophone solo and bassist Daryl Jones soloing down some funk lines. Backing vocalist Lisa Fisher got to shine and take spotlight as she howled out “Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away!” with Jagger on the circular mini stage for Gimme Shelter.
Where could a band go from there? If you’re the Rolling Stones you break into more massive hits like Jumping Jack Flash with Mick, Keith and Ronnie up and down the ramps and catwalk. Next the stage was aglow in red, the side ramps had red pyrotechnics, and Mick wore a red feathery cape while the crowd chanted “ooh, ooh” on Sympathy For The Devil. Then there was the audience call and response for Brown Sugar’s “yeah!, yeah, yeah…Whoo!”
Mick’s fashion faux pas came in the black hat he wore for the encore. Mick strummed some
acoustic guitar for You can’t Always Get What You Want which was enhanced by a choir from Le Chœur des jeunes de Laval. By song’s end there was Mick the ever present cheerleader swaying his arms and hips side to side with the audience swaying their arms back in unison. It all came to a close with a bombastic firework send off with something we all got last night, Satisfaction.
Start Me Up
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
All Down the Line
Street Fighting Man
Honky Tonk Women
Before They Make Me Run
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Sympathy for the Devil
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
As an after note : I was fortunate enough to meet with Ron Wood late in Montreal last night where he asked me how I liked the show. I told him how much I love the song One Hit (To The Body) and hope they’ll play it on the next tour. His eyes widened and he thanked me for saying that. This song is one of the few singles in Rolling Stones history that Wood is credited as a co-writer.
Speaking with Marlon Richards (Keith’s son) he told me he thought the show in Quebec city was the best of the entire Zip Code tour and the energy was higher then usual even for his famous father.