Mick Taylor The 360, Toronto ON - August 9, 2003

With Toronto still buzzing from the Rolling Stones' SARSstock, Mick Taylor and his three-man band stepped onstage at the 360 and laid down two hours of solid blues. Taylor, the Stones' most virtuoso guitarist (1969 to '75), consistently played fluid yet precise guitar runs. He kicked off with "A Secret Affair" (from 1998's A Stone's Throw) and ended with an encore jam of his signature piece, the Santana-esque "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?" (from Sticky Fingers). The highlight of the evening was a 15-minute sweep of the Mississippi Delta, weaving "You Gotta Move," "Key To The Highway," "Catfish Blues" and other classics into a medley that was complex but never indulgent. Whereas former band-mate Keith Richards has slowed down on stage (sad but true), Taylor's playing remains sharp and swift. In fact, his trademark melodic, flowing guitar overshadowed his voice and all else. A shy man, the 55-year-old Taylor said little to the appreciative crowd except that his hearing was weak. Instead, he let his 1959 Historic Reissue Gibson speak for him, shaking the walls of this old Royal Canadian Legion hall on trendy Queen West with chords from Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell," Hendrix's "Red House" and Taylor's own "Leather Jacket." There were no surprises this evening, as Taylor delivered solo after solo to his cult of fans. However, an acoustic set would've broken up the pace and shown a different side of the blues, as well as Taylor's own versatility. There were several balding heads and Rolling Stones T-shirts in the audience, but also a fair share of younger Queen Street West-types, blues fans all.