The Rolling Stones don’t have medical degrees, but they helped cure Toronto’s SARS-related malaise, banishing it Wednesday with a concert for an estimated 450,000 fans, according to wire service reports. They headlined the 12-hour show, which some wags dubbed ”SARSstock,” at the recently-stricken city’s Downsview Park, a former military base.
It was a patriotic day for Canadians, with maple leaves visible on many concertgoers’ attire, and with a lineup that included Dan Aykroyd (who MCed), Rush, and the Guess Who. AC/DC aren’t Canadian, but guitarist Angus Young, during his traditional moon-the-crowd moment, revealed a maple leaf on his boxers. Also on the bill was token Yank Justin Timberlake, who joined the Stones to sing ”Miss You” after his own set.
The Stones, who often sequester themselves in Toronto to rehearse for their tours, wanted to do a favor for the city, which had lost an estimated $2 million in tourist revenue after the SARS outbreak there earlier this year. ”I think it’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to, so it is a fantastic buzz,” said Mick Jagger, who turned 60 last week, to reporters before the show. Jagger may have forgotten that the Stones played to 500,000 people in London’s Hyde Park in July 1969, in a free concert to pay tribute to their former guitarist Brian Jones, who had died days before. Maybe he meant the largest paying crowd.