ORO MEDONTE, Ont. -- Dressed in T-shirts and hats emblazoned with the famous tongue logo, Rolling Stones fans gathered at an sprawling outdoor venue in Ontario for what many expect will be a piece of history - and perhaps even a farewell.
After Mick Jagger's emergency heart surgery made it uncertain if the British rockers would ever return to Canada, the singer got the all clear, and on Saturday at the Burl's Creek Event Grounds many fans said they were simply grateful he was healthy enough to perform.
And none of them wanted to miss what could be a last chance to see the band over the Canada Day weekend.
“The heath scare was kind of an indication this might actually be the last one,” said Marc Fielding, who joined about 30 of his friends on a road trip from Toronto.
“They're such an iconic band, so you don't want to risk them maybe not coming back.”
Roughly 70,000 concertgoers were expected to gather for the iconic British band's concert tonight at the Burl's Creek Event Grounds. The show in Oro-Medonte, Ont., about 30 kilometres north of Barrie, is the Stones' only Canadian date on their North American tour.
For some in attendance, seeing the Stones live came with an extra significance.
Jackie Morin's father, a longtime fan, died shortly after the Stones most recently played Toronto. So this night is an especially poignant moment.
“This is a big deal,” she said. “Never will you ever see a concert like this - it's history.”
Dino Bruno landed tickets when his sister-in-law surprised him with the gift. He last saw the Stones in the mid-1970s at Maple Leaf Gardens where he said the local news captured him playing Frisbee with police in the street.
“The Stones were the bad boys of rock,” he said. “I wanted to be here because I want to die happy.”
Jayne Sidey first caught the Stones at a Canadian National Institute for the Blind benefit concert over 40 years ago in Oshawa, Ont. It was part of a court-ordered performance for Keith Richards who was arrested for heroin possession in Toronto.
She was forever changed by Jagger and his buddies and has gone to at least 20 Stones concerts since.
“I saw them three times in the U.K. last year, and we're booked for two shows on this tour,” she said. “The 2013 show in Toronto was so good we all jumped in a car to Montreal and saw them there.”
Several homegrown acts performed before the Stones took the stage, including Saskatoon-formed One Bad Son, the Glorious Sons from Kingston, Ont., Toronto four-piece the Beaches, and longtime favourites Sloan.
Toronto cover band Dwayne Gretzky is slated to play a late-night show after the Stones' set.
The day-long festival marks the third concert on the Rolling Stones tour, which kicked off with two dates in Chicago a week ago.
Guitarist Ronnie Wood assured longtime fans the band has a few surprises up their sleeve.
“They're going to get the dynamics of the band as it is now,” he said earlier this month.
“None of us can actually believe how powerful it's sounding.”