While most concerts go on without a hitch, there are others that end up being memorable for all the wrong reasons. Here are five Toronto concerts that had their ample share of controversy.
Oasis Assault – Virgin Fest, Sept. 7, 2008
Oasis’ headlining set in mere seconds went from celebration to chaos. Daniel Sullivan ran onstage and violently pushed guitarist Noel Gallagher from behind, causing him to fall into his monitors. Sullivan got near singer Liam Gallagher before being tackled. Sullivan was sentenced in 2010 to 12 months house arrest. Noel later told MTV2 his doctor in London told Gallagher – who broke three ribs — “lucky you didn’t break your neck.”
Teenage Head – Horseshoe Tavern, Dec. 1, 1978
This infamous gig – which also featured The Viletones and The Ugly — became immortalized in the documentary The Last Pogo. The concert at the Horseshoe was overcrowded (reportedly 300 over capacity) when police entered the venue to stop the gig. Promoters urged the cops to let Teenage Head play one song before shutting things down. The ensuing chaos left the venue literally in shambles as tables and chairs were smashed.
Justin Timberlake – SARS-Fest, July 30, 2003
Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto saw roughly 460,000 people watching The Rolling Stones and AC/DC at Downsview Park. They also saw hundreds of plastic water bottles and cans thrown at Justin Timberlake during his brief late afternoon set. “That was terrible,” he later told Playboy in 2011. “I mean, I got beer cans thrown at me the whole f—king day. That was the most humiliated I ever felt as a musician.” He appeared again during “Miss You” with the Stones and another projectile missed Mick Jagger, causing Keith Richards to chastise the crowd off mic.
Jay Reatard – Silver Dollar Room, April 17, 2008
Late, mercurial rocker Jay Reatard pulled no punches during a small club gig in Toronto in 2008. While playing “My Shadow” the singer grabbed a fan by his t-shirt who jumped onstage, spun him around and hit him with a right hook. Moments later Reatard left the stage, leaving promoter Dan Burke to hurl barbs at Reatard’s group. “I don’t care if they’re from Memphis, that’s some p—– s—!” he said from the stage.
Madonna – Blond Ambition Tour, May 29, 1990
The final night of Madonna’s three-night stand at Skydome almost nearly never happened. As documented in 1991’s Truth Or Dare, “Like A Virgin” included Madonna simulating masturbation on a bed which police thought might violate obscenity laws. “The police are here, if I touch my crotch during the show I’m going to be arrested,” Madonna said backstage. The show went on without incident after she criticized the “fascist state of Toronto.”