MONTREAL—The yearly surge of elderly tourists invading Montreal began a week early this year with the arrival of The Rolling Stones who played to a crowd of over 15,000 cane-wavers at Bell Centre this past Sunday.
The audience, largely comprised of residents from neighbouring retirement homes and Americans too cheap to spring for packages to the French Riviera were mildly impressed by the performance, though it was unclear whether this was due to the music itself or the rare treat of being allowed outdoors for a field trip by bus.
“I was filled with great hope,” said Heywood Banks, 81. “The fact that Keith Richards is still alive, yet alone able to play, is greatly inspiring to me. Yes, he’s not as good as he was, and actually isn’t even as good as those kids I used to hear trying to tune by ear at the music store, but still… it beats shivering over a cold bedpan watching Lawrence Welk, doesn’t it?”
The air was rich with the pungent odour of Ben-Gay as the lights came up. Most of the geriatric rebel rockers were able to get to the stage under their own power with the aid of wheelchairs, canes, and walking frames, though Brian Jones, looking much worse for wear, had to be carried aloft by a dozen pallbearers. Bill Wyman was able to reunite the lineup for the evening by special arrangement with his Warden. Though he had the most dexterity of the surviving members, his walk to the stage took the longest owing to his insistence on keeping his back to the wall at all times.
In lieu of an opening act, Mick Jagger officiated a round-robin shuffleboard tournament. The winner, Phil Deville, 68, opted to be excused from remaining for the concert and was instead allowed to remain backstage and receive unchaperoned time alone with Mick’s personal stable of 50-something groupies (age, not quantity).
The wrinkly gents opened the Sunday night show with a 12-minute extended version of “(Hey You) Get Off My Lawn,” which was unintentionally lengthened due to forgotten lyrics and the resulting long instrumental improvisation sections. Mick eventually got his groove back with the aid of some sheet music and his bifocals.
Fire department officials were within seconds of the stage, ready to provide defibrillation to band and audience members as required.
“I’ve waited for this all my life,” said 99-year-old Mary Menow, shortly before passing away due to complications from a prior stroke.
Event security consisted of four police officers deployed by the city, dressed in traditional Canadian G8 Summit riot gear. One woman attacked by spitting her false teeth, but the officers’ face shields protected them from harm. The woman, 71, was subdued without deadly force as police had apparently been warned by organizers to refrain from using their stun tazers.
Earlier this month, three people were fatally crushed and 38 injured at Bell Centre when dozens of elderly broke through security lines at a post-concert autograph session for Wayne Newton.
This was the Stones’ third visit to Montreal but their first experiment with a ‘Reduced-fee for Seniors’ show pricing model. Falling ticket and CD sales and diminishing concert attendance due to a rapidly deceasing fanbase has driven the band to cast their net into deep international waters and ‘special, limited time offers’ in recent years.
“They’re past their prime and they need to get a grip,” said has-been nineties rapper Vanilla Ice, before abruptly retracting his statement and apologizing profusely. “Do you have Mick’s number? If he’d let me sample some stuff, I think we could mount a mutal comeback. Mick, if you’re reading this call me. At home. Please.”