THE ROLLING STONES with BECK at Rogers Centre, September 26. Tickets: $60-$450. Attendance: 45,000. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
No matter how charming and brilliant Beck was when he opened for the Rolling Stones Monday night, I couldn't help thinking, "Beck thinks I'm full of dead alien souls." Scientology's a drag that way.
I still felt bad for the guy, who faced a stadium that was barely a third full when he first hit the stage at the massive Rogers Centre .
Worse still, Beck had to battle a monster echo that swallowed up his every froggy-voiced word. Happily, someone soon wrangled the sound to a level that stayed listenable during his 10-song set, from Loser to E-Pro.
Midway through, Beck went unplugged, and his band inexplicably sat down at a dinner table and began eating. It made a bit more sense when they joined in to clink glasses and bang plates for the kooky Clap Hands.
As for veteran headliners the Rolling Stones, even if you weren't there you've seen this show already.
Yes, they started up with Start Me Up. And an over-caffeinated Mick Jagger hip-wiggled and doggedly shuffle-stepped across the stage in tight leather pants. Keith "I was born with a dangling cigarette" Richards clutched the mic stand to keep from keeling over, while Ron Wood appeared to be wearing a girly T with his skinny pants. And, of course, Charlie Watts said nothing and dutifully kept time. Just like you've seen on TV!
One of the night's high points happened when the front of the stage broke off into its own Goldfinger mini-plane and cruised toward the opposite end of the field. I found myself hoping a giant door would open and the band would keep playing as they peeled right out of the stadium.
I felt the faintest twinge of disappointment as it parked, allowing the old boys to treat the rear bowl to a few songs before finishing up their set back where they started. Then, for a finale, they set off a frenzy of pyrotechnics so intense and hot I feared they'd fry the special coatings off my glasses.
A Stones show is all spectacle, so formulated it's less a rock concert than a well-oiled Broadway production of The Rolling Stones: The Musical. Still, they've managed to hold onto some infectious quality that can't be denied, and I did feel a thrill of reluctant excitement when Mick chicken-walked down stage right toward us.
Maybe I bought into it a little bit. I'm almost not ashamed to admit that.