In Regina's biggest rock show ever — and its best, according to some of the 40,000 fans in attendance— the Rolling Stones played in Saskatchewan for the first time on Friday night.
Under a full moon on an unseasonably mild October night at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field, the band many call the world's greatest gave the crowd two hours of iconic hits and sent them out in a blissful mood.
"It was awesome, the highlight of my fall," said Janice Rothermel of Qu'Appelle, Sask., east of Regina.
Rothermel said the light show was fantastic and she was thrilled to hear old hits including Satisfaction played live. It was also exciting to hear members of the band talk about her province, she said.
"It was like they really took an interest in where they were. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets."
Talk of the town
The show, and a second one on Sunday, have been the talk of the town for weeks and were expected to inject more than $10million into the economy.
Friday's concert began with an explosion of fireworks and the opening chords of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Vocalist Mick Jagger burst onto the mammoth 300-tonne stage and for the next 120 minutes ran, danced, pranced, strutted and shook his hips.
The set was largely a medley of fan favourites interspersed with songs from A Bigger Bang, the band's bluesy new album.
There were streamers, giant flames, a giant inflatable mouth and tongue, and a sliding stage that took the band halfway down the field.
Jagger worked hard to charm the crowd and it appeared to pay off.
"Thank you, home of the Roughriders," he said as the crowd roared its approval, just before the band tore into Tumbling Dice.
Old joke gets laughs
Jagger pronounced Saskatchewan correctly and made a couple of comments about the city and province that had the audience cheering. Even an old joke about Regina got some laughs.
"Someone told me, 'Regina, it rhymes with fun,'" he said.
Keith Richards, meanwhile, had the crowd awestruck and amused by turns.
During a solo, he smiled and took a long drag on a cigarette, to the apparent delight of those in the crowd who had heard media reports suggesting he might get ticketed for violating a no-smoking bylaw.
The notoriously hard-living rocker said it was nice to see the people in the stadium. "It's nice to see anybody," he added.
Fans flocked from several provinces
For the first concert, fans came from Saskatoon, Sturgis, Madge Lake and dozens of other communities around the province. Others made the journey from Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario to see Jagger, Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts.
James Sterling of Moose Jaw came out of the stadium with a grin on his face.
"I was amazed at how great they were live," he said. "And to see a 63-year-old [Jagger] run around like that? I don't think I could keep up with him — I'm 31."
In the minutes before the show got underway, a carnival-like atmosphere prevailed outside the stadium. Scalpers tried to get rid of the last of their tickets. Vendors flogged $10 "Bigger Bang" key chains. Kids with cardboard signs flagged down people looking for parking.
Two blocks away, a cherry picker with a bucket was put into position to hoist people where they could watch the show for free.
One man paced outside the stadium wearing a sandwich board that read "Wanted [Rolling Stones] ticket."
Later, a woman was spotted wearing the same sandwich board. Her explanation? The man had sold it to her.