Rolling Stones Rock Cuba

The Rolling Stones in top rock-and-roll form, belted out their best to some half a million fans at a free, outdoor concert in Havana, Cuba on Friday, March 25, 2016. Their performance marked a climactic finish to a historic week, in which the long-isolated populace met United States President Barack Obama, and reveled in the promise of improved circumstances.

According to Yahoo! News, Cubans had never seen the Rolling Stones performing live before, and when Mick Jagger, 72, led his men across the open stage to rock the thousands that filled the Havana sports complex, those who couldn’t get in, climbed the rooftops outside for a bird’s-eye view, a legend from the British isles becoming a reality.

The Rolling Stones dished out “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to open their first-ever show in Cuba with a return to their blues roots. Recorded in 1968, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” has graced every tour since its release, standing out as the rock song the band has played in concert most frequently.

Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood
Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood land in Cuba [Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
The sun set over Havana as the concert kicked off. It was not only the Rolling Stones’ debut in Cuba, but also the first gig of its size for any rock band, with giant video screens and a sound system that enticed the crowd to gyrate in rhythm with the beats of “Satisfaction,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” and “Angie” in a set of 18 songs.

Jagger addressed the crowd in between standard Rolling Stones hits “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” and “Tumbling Dice.” The fans who had shown up 18 hours ahead of time at Havana’s Sports City football and baseball fields, responded with grateful applause to what he said in Spanish.

“We know that years ago it was difficult to hear our music in Cuba, but here we are playing. I think that finally the times are changing. That’s true, isn’t it?”

According to Rolling Stone Magazine, after Jagger’s rendition of “Angie” and “Paint It Black,” Keith Richards, 72, assumed the vocals for “You Got the Silver,” the slide-guitar accompaniment executed by Ronnie Wood, 68. Getting into the zone with the enraptured crowd, Richards made the following comment.

“Maybe I’ll just stay here forever.”

Jagger teamed up with his Rolling Stones mates to rock the crowd with “Midnight Rambler,” through which Wood and Richards took turns at hot licks.

Meanwhile, in front of the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana, no souvenir vendors or beer runners worked the Rolling Stones fans. Military men in green uniforms stayed in the periphery to watch over the proletariat but nothing went out of hand at Cuba’s largest rock concert on record.

CBC reported that ex-supermodel Naomi Campbell, movie star Richard Gere, and singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet took part in the Rolling Stones concert celebration at the VIP lounge of the venue. Another notable on hand was Cuban President Raul Castro’s son, Alejandro, who greeted acquaintances after the rock show.

Fans waiting 18 hours ahead of concert start
Fans waiting 18 hours ahead of concert start [Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
The Rolling Stones’ tongue-and-lips logo proliferated in the crowd sporting jeans, T-shirts and boots to rock with. Waving Cuban, Mexican, and Argentinean flags along with the Union Jack, the concert attendees also had the Stars and Stripes on some tongues, likely in keeping with the historic visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Rolling Stones wound down their act, leaving their fans in stunned disbelief from it all. It was the end of a tour through South America and Mexico, giving the rock group a much-needed break, but marking the start of a new era in music for Cuba.

These Rolling Stones have gathered some recognition moss, namely, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and the U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Other moss would be a Rolling Stone magazine ranking of fourth on the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

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