Rock The Palais (Phoenix-03)
Palais Royale Ballroom, Toronto, ON, Canada – August 16th, 2002
(73:01): It’s Only Rock’n Roll, Sad Sad Sad, If You Can’t Rock Me, Stray Cat Blues, Hot Stuff, Don’t Stop, Honky Tonk Women, Torn and Frayed, Wild Horses, Happy, I Can’t Turn You Loose, Heart of Stone, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Jumping Jack Flash, Brown Sugar
The Rolling Stones’ Licks tour carried a phenomenal concept. Instead of touring off of a new album, it was ostensibly in support of the 40 Licksgreatest hits album in celebration of their fortieth anniversary. Many songs that had not been played in years were given a chance in the setlist along with some that had never been played before live.
Intense rehearsals meant to dust off the back catalogue were held between July 22nd at the CTV studios in the Old Masonic Temple and basically concluded with this surprise club gig at the Palais Royale Ballroom in Toronto. Rock The Palais is sourced from an excellent soundboard recording leaked from the venue after the show. There are some cuts between numbers including an abrupt edit between “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Jumping Jack Flash,” but the music and much of Jagger’s commentary is intact.
The show mixes well popular live songs with debuts of others and new arrangements. It is a nervous and rusty but enthusastic and fun show before a wild audience. Also present was a full force of press, family (both Elizabeth and James Jagger were in attendance) and celebrities (Sharon Stone was seen walking around backstage).
The tape starts of with the Ballroom manager introducing the band before they start “It’s Only Rock And Roll,” a song that would be one of the most popular on the Licks tour followed by “Sad Sad Sad” from Steel Wheels, a song that would be played only one more time a month later in Philadelphia. Afterwards Jagger jokes around, saying: “We’ve been in the Masonic Hall for four weeks now and don’t anyone say ‘you sound like you’ve been there for four days.’ It’s great to get out here and play for everybody.”
“If You Can’t Rock Me” and “Stray Cat Blues” both sound very rusty. The latter especially so since it sounds as if the band get lost in the middle. “Hot Stuff” though sounds really good in a bebop jazz/ funk arrangement with emphasis on the trumpet melody. “Don’t Stop,” the new original single on 40 Licks, is given its live premier and is an innocuous pop ditty.
Before “Torn And Frayed” Mick jokes: “We’ve never done this before and it’s gonna be just perfect I’m sure. And it’s called ‘Tempting The Gods.'” He is inaccurate since the song was played the first night of the 1972 North American tour in Vancouver before dropped from the setlist. This in fact the second live performance.
“I Can’t Turn You Loose,” a cover of the Otis Redding song, is played for the first time live by the Stones. It is followed by the old song “Heart Of Stone” played in a much different arrangement than in the sixties.
The most anticipated number of the night is undoubtedly “Can’t You Hear My Knocking” from Sticky Fingers. Given the loose jam feel of the original, it has never been attempted live. But on this night they give it its stage premier which even had the roadcrew giving each other high fives. The backing female singers are giving a large role in the sound in the first half of the song while the band emphasize the guitars in the second. Unlike some of the other premiers in the show this one sounds very tight and rehearsed and would be played sixty times during the Licks tour.
The show ends with the obligatory “Jumping Jack Flash” with “Brown Sugar” played as the encore. Phoenix is the first of several releases of this important gig which also include Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (Vinyl Gang VGP-319), Clubbing In Toronto (RS Records 16082002) and Fifteen Kicks-Secret Club Gig (160802), all in very similar sound quality. Given the sound quality and historic significance, this is an essential title to have.