The Rolling Stones were set to give at a concert in Havana, Cuba on Sunday, but their show has been delayed five days due to a visit by President Barrack Obama.
According to Reuters, Obama is landing on Sunday for a 48-hour visit to Cuba. This comes 15 months after the United States started to normalize relations with the nation. It is the first time since 1928, that a sitting U.S. president will be visiting Cuba and he will be joined by delegate made up of 20 Congress members and CEOS from such companies as Xerox and Marriott, as reported by Fox Business.
A statement from the White House noted that, “In addition to holding a bilateral meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro, President Obama will engage with members of civil society, entrepreneurs and Cubans from different walks of life.”
“Cuba is preparing for a Category Five storm. Locals are calling it Hurricane Obama,” said Kate Linthicum, a writer for The Los Angeles Times.
As part of their Latin American tour, The Rolling Stones were set to play a free show in the capital city when the concert organizers heard about the Obama trip. The concert was subsequently rescheduled for Friday March 25.
According to SBS, the Rolling Stones will be the biggest musical act to play in the fragile country since 1959. The concert will be held at Ciudad Deportiva in Havana, and is expected to draw a large audience.
“At one point we thought he (Obama) was coming to the show,” said Dale “Opie” Skjerseth, the Stones’ production manager. “He’s our opening act.”
On Saturday, Skjerseth spoke to reporters outside the arena where the concert will take place. He noted that the Rolling Stones were aware of the fact that their music was at one time banned by the Communist Government and known as “ideological deviation.” The music of both The Beatles and Elvis Presley was banned too. The band will be the first international rock stars to play in Cuba.
“They like to be the first of everything,” said Skjerseth.
However, there are other problems facing the concert. Richard Tullo, director of research at Albert Fried & Company, said that due to Cuba’s lack of infrastructure, the concert will be expensive and “logistically difficult.”
“The acts that will play in Cuba, once the infrastructure comes to a first world standard, and once their Internet comes to a first world standard, will be acts that they [the Cuban people] find out about on Facebook and social media,” said Tullo, who despite all these concerns, still thought the Stones show will be good for the country.
Tullo continued, “It’s a good marketing move, especially since Cuba is a point of social interest.”
Officials are worried about how many people will show up to the Rolling Stones’ free show described by The Los Angeles Times as “the surprise last stop.” With massive television screens being installed in front of the arena, and around 500 tons of equipment that was brought in, the concert organizers are hoping for one million people to visit.
“Who came up with this idea?” said Josue Lopez, a Cuban photographer who often works with producers and journalists visiting his country.
“It’s like the return of the Christmas all over again,” said Michelle Quesada, of WPTV, who described the Stones concert as a “truly once in a lifetime event.”
“We have performed in many special places during our long career but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too,” said the band in a statement.
The Rolling Stones were also the first prominent international band to perform in what was then called Czechoslovakia, after they were free of the Soviet Union.
[Photo by Carlos Muller/Getty Images]