The Rolling Stones Zip It Up In Canada

The state of Mick Jagger’s flies has proved a lively talking point of late. Not those attached to his trousers, for once, but the zipper included in the Andy Warhol-designed cover of the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album. During the Stones' recent online fan Q&A, the singer went all QVC, demonstrating that vinyl reissues of the Stones' 1971 album featured a working zip. So front-of-mind is the popular trouser-fastening mechanism, it even crept into the name of the band’s latest north American tour.

The Zip Code Tour – see what they did there? – took in 14 cities before winding-up in Quebec last week (July 15) for a final date in the city’s Plaines d'Abraham park.

The cover of MOJO 261, featuring interviews with Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman.

Far from phoning it in for an end of tour festival show, the Stones delivered an up-tempo greatest hits set plus “the night's only slowie”, Wild Horses. Jagger channelled all his limb-cracking energy and competent conversational French to ensure that 100,000 plus Québécois had a good time with a set that included engaging jammed-out versions of Midnight Rambler, Miss You and Gimme Shelter, after which they recruited a local children’s choir for a rousing crack at You Can’t Always Get What You Want before (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction saw the band go out in a firework finale.

What’s more, the set boded well for Keith Richards’ impending solo activities, with a possible hint that solo live dates may even accompany the release of Crosseyed Heart later this year.

Taking centre stage for Before They Make Me Run and Happy, Keef’s rough-edged-old-tea-chest vocals and open-tuning eccentricities earned him a heartfelt ovation from the Canadian crowd, even drawing an affectionate “Cut it out!” from the genuinely touched guitarist. Hopefully he’s acquired the taste for frontman duties.

“The Stones' set boded well for Keith Richards' impending solo activities.”

The Stones’ Wednesday night headline was the centrepiece of the 2015 Le Festival d'Été De Québec, an annual two week long summer event (hence the name) that hosts a vast array of acts – a considered mix of French-Canadian locals, world music acts and international big hitters – across various stages around the historical state capital, all accessible via a single wristband that covers every show.

Interpol were among the international acts making a rare stop-off in the French-Canadian city, with their Friday night (July 17) headline set serving as affecting demonstration of how early cult appeal can subtly mature into something bigger without loss of edge or innovation.

Combining the urgent, twitchy energy of early material such as Evil, Say Hello To The Angels and The New, with the swelling emotions of newer songs from last year’s El Pintor album, Interpol possess a darker emotional tone than most festival headliners, and the drive and power of the New Yorkers’ tidal melodies confirmed that they are more than worthy of their growing status among the international elite.

It’s a club that Foo Fighters are confirmed members of, though, as their year has so far proved, it is no guarantor of good luck. Their appearance in the festival's first week (July 11) proved a short-lived affair – though this time no broken limbs were to blame.

Set to be one of Dave Grohl’s first gigs back after snapping his leg falling off stage in Sweden and forcing his band out of this year’s Glastonbury, the former Nirvana man started the gig from a throne-like dais in the centre of the festival’s main stage.

However, rather than emulate the pageantry of heroes Queen, the Foos’ leader ended his night early as rock’n’roll’s King Canute, unable to turn back floods of water as a torrential rain storm hit Quebec City. At least for four songs Grohl and co. did rule supreme.

Get the latest MOJO magazine for exclusive interviews with Rolling Stones Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman.

Watch The Rolling Stones performing live at Le Festival d'été de Québec.

For more information about Le Festival d'Été de Québec, visit Plus listen to Part 1 Of Absolute Radio’s recent Rolling Stones Documentary.

PHOTO: Philippe Ruel

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