I have never in my life seen a city as excited for a show as Quebec City was for The Rolling Stones on Wednesday. Literally every building I set foot inside was playing Stones music, every local I spoke to eager to chat about the band. When I strolled past the festival grounds at 2 p.m,—seven and a half hours before the Stones were set to hit the stage and four hours before the gates would even open—there was already a huge crowd lined up outside. Many of them had slept there the night before to ensure they’d be the first ones on the Plains of Abraham.
And why wouldn’t Quebec City be excited? Wednesday was the first time since 1998 that the Stones had played their city, and it was the last date of what some speculate may very well be the band’s final tour. Most of the crowd spent the evening camped out at the Bell Stage awaiting Mick and Keith, which means they also caught sets from Galaxie and The Districts. The Districts in particular seemed in awe of the sheer size of their first gig in Quebec City—it’s not every day you get to perform in front of 80,000 people on the largest free-standing stage in North America to open for the Stones. And you have to pity the bands who were slated to play head-to-head with the Glimmer Twins—I can’t imagine anyone passing up a chance to see them to go watch Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros on the other end of the park.
The Rolling Stones stuck pretty much to their standard Zip Code Tour set, and their show felt just as thrilling and remarkable as their stop in Atlanta last month. The “request” voted on by fans online for this particular set was “Street Fighting Man,” and they played a few Sticky Fingers classics (“Wild Horses” and “Bitch” in addition to “Brown Sugar” later in the show) to celebrate that album’s recent reissue, but beyond that they didn’t deviate from their standard formula. Of course, why would they? It’s unnecessary to mess with a great thing.
Mick Jagger did his best to make the show feel like a unique experience, however, addressing the crowd primarily in French and indulging in so many costume changes that I’m pretty sure he just decided to wear every single outfit he’d packed for the tour. The crowd, of course, ate it all up, and to hear all 80,000 of them screaming along to “Satisfaction” at the end of the night was truly incredible. No wonder they were so excited.
Rolling Stones Festival d’été de Québec Set LIst:
1. “Start Me Up”
2. “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll”
3. “All Down the Line”
4. “Tumbling Dice”
5. “Street Fighting Man”
6. “Wild Horses”
8. “Honky Tonk Women”
9. “Before They Make Me Run”
11. “Midnight Rambler”
12. “Miss You”
13. “Gimme Shelter”
14. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
15. “Sympathy for the Devil”
16. “Brown Sugar”
17. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Stay tuned for more Festival d’été de Québec coverage later this week.