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"Trigger" Rolling Stones wow great crowd at Burl's Creek

For a lot of British chaps, The Rolling Stones certainly know a lot about Canada, and Mick Jagger did not hesitate to whistle his wisdom on his Canada Day weekend concert in Ontario.

The frontman of the iconic rock band knocked out handfuls of Canadiana on Saturday and paused to refer everything from the Toronto Raptor's historic NBA championship match to the Ontario's Buck a beer policy, Doug Ford.

Facing a crowd of about 70,000 concert groups, it did not take long before Jagger wanted a simple "Happy Canada Day" to the receptive audience, who did not seem to think that it was technically two days earlier.

The concert at Burl's Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, about 20 kilometers south of Orillia, was the only Canadian date on its North American tour. And for many participants it seemed a miracle that Jagger was even on the stage considering his latest heart surgery.

None of it was referring to the 75-year-old singer's tireless performance, which meant replacing one glittering jacket to another before finally donating a hat and T-shirt emblazoned with the band's famous heavy-logo.

Armed with his flamboyant swagger, Jagger sank over the massive scene – and strutted down the catwalk – for two hours and played 20 of the band's biggest hits.

Popular classics Paint the black, Gimme Shelter, and Honky Tonk Woman, was balanced with a selection of fan favorites, including Before they make me run, a song Keith Richards wrote in response to his 1977 arrest for heroin possession in Toronto.

And during four high digital screens Jagger played right into the audience's hand on almost every turn.

"How about the Raptors?" he shouted, as the "We The North" logo flashed over his head. He pointed out a little fun on the Toronto Mayor John Tory's famous black-and-gold Raptor jacket, which he enthusiastically wears in the city for weeks.

"He still has his dirty blazer," Tory's singer, who was in the audience, said.

Jagger later introduced the band's drummer Charlie Watts as the Toronto Maple Leaf's mascot, apparently for no particular reason.

He also took a jab on Ford's "buck a beer" election platform and told the audience at a point that "for the next 15 minutes it's a buck-a-beer – licensed by Doug Ford."

The commentary provoked some anguish in parts of the audience, and no visible discounts on beer tents.

But Stones fans did not seem to think, so busy in an instant that would be a little bit of history, and perhaps even farewell.

Earlier this year, Jagger underwent emergency cardiac surgery, pausing the Canadian date and hearing questions about whether the British rockers would ever tour again. When the singer got everything ready, the date was again.

"Heath scare was kind of an indication that this may actually be the last," said Marc Fielding, who joined around 30 of his friends on a Toronto road trip.

"They are such an iconic band, so you don't want to risk them maybe not coming back."

For others who participated, the stone was seen live with an extra importance.

Jackie Morin's father, a long-standing fan, died shortly after Stones recently played Toronto. So this night was a particularly urgent 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. He last saw the stones in the mid-1970s at Maple Leaf Gardens where he said the local news caught him playing Frisbee with police on the street.

"The stones were rock's bad boys," he said. "I wanted to be here because I want to die happy."

Jayne Sidey first took Stones to a Canadian Blind Benefit Concert Institute over 40 years ago in Oshawa, Ont. It was part of a court order for Richards' after he was arrested for heroin possession.

She said she was forever changed by Jagger and his friends and has gone to at least 20 Stones concerts since.

"I saw them three times in the UK last year, and we are booked for two exhibitions 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."

Homegrown acts are performed before Stones play

Several home-made acts were performed before Stones took the stage, including Saskatoon-formed One Bad Son, the glorious sons of Kingston, Toronto's four-part beaches and long-time favorites Sloan.

Toronto cover band Dwayne Gretzky played a late night show of other rock and pop classics, all from Whitney Houston I want to dance with someone to the queen Bohemian Rhapsody.

The day-long festival marked the third concert on the Rolling Stones tour, which kicked off with two dates in Chicago a week ago.

After the stones finished their set, they offered a clue of the resilience that kept them for more than half a century.

"See you soon," reads the digital screens, next to the band's heavy logo.

– David Friend, Canadian Press

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