Either way, Rock n’ Roll diplomacy seemed to win out, at least for a day, as excitement between Cubans and American regarding the reestablishment of diplomatic relations in Cuba continued to build.
The Rolling Stones played to an estimated 500,000 Cubans in Havana on Friday. The Stones became the the talk of Havana with their iconic tongue logo sprouted up on T-shirts across the island as locals asked almost anyone in earshot: “Do you know the Rolling Stones will play tonight?”
Not only was it real, it was free. According to Rolling Stone, in front of the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana, there were no ticket touts or T-shirt vendors. For a convertible peso you could get a cone of popcorn or a bootleg Stones CD outside the gates. Men in traditional green military uniforms were present but unnecessary despite the charged atmosphere leading up to Cuba’s largest concert ever.
The Stones kicked off the night with the staple “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” The crowd — mostly flying Cuban flags, but Mexican, Argentinean and the Union Jack made appearances as well — gave an appreciative cheer when Jagger greeted them in their native Spanish, in between “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” and “Tumbling Dice.” “This is a new time,” Jagger observed to roars from the crowd, a nod to the Stones’ once-outlaw status in the country.
After crisp takes on standards “Angie” and “Paint It Black,” Keith took over on vocals for “You Got the Silver,” with his counterpart Ronnie Wood adding the slide-guitar parts. Relishing the moment with the spellbound crowd, Keith said: “Maybe I’ll just stay here forever.” Mick rejoined the band for an extended jam out on “Midnight Rambler,” which featured Wood and Richards exchanging fiery licks. Without concession stands, the usual beer-run-shuffle was noticeably absent, but the rapt audience wasn’t going anywhere anyway.
A dozen songs in and the Stones cranked up the energy with an impassioned “Gimme Shelter.” Jagger’s vocals carried the night in many places, but at no point was he in better form than as he traded lines with singer Sasha Allen on the classic anthem. Cuban communism might be losing steam, but over an hour into the show it was clear that Mick Jagger is not.
~ BandRumors Staff