Rocking Havana: The Rolling Stones stage historic concert in Cuba


After US President Barack Obama’s historic visit in Cuba, the first of a sitting president since 1928, the country was already preparing to receive another unprecedented event.

The legendary British rock band The Rolling Stones landed three day’s after Obama’s departure for an historic show in the capital Havana, attended by thousands of fans from Cuba and around the world.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Charlie Watts landed in Cuba on Thursday the day before the show that was christened the ‘Concert of Friendship’.

“Hola, Havana! Buenas noches mi gente de Cuba” said lead singer Mick Jagger, in Spanish to the adoring crowd in Cuba. The mega Rolling Stones show that took place at Ciudad Deportiva Complex in capital Havana turned Friday 25 March into an historic moment.

The two hour and a half hour spectacular was attended by 450,000 people of different ages and nationalities. In the VIP area, supermodel Naomi Campbell and Hollywood actor Richard Gere were just some of the prominent names.


Boat with the iconic Rolling Stones logo. (Courtesy: Angel Xavier Viera-Vargas/Flickr)

The British band played 18 songs, which included their most famous hits. The concert was free, the band’s first free concert since the historic show on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in 2006. Images were filmed for a documentary about the tour and some will be transferred for display on state television in Cuba.

Mick Jagger threatened farewell, saying “thank you Havana, goodnight.” However, this was only a joke, as the band returned to play their seminal hit ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. “Are you ready?” asked Jagger. As the first notes of ‘Satisfaction’ began to sound, the audience was incredibly enthusiastic. The Stones extended the original version of the 1965 hit, making it more than twice as long.

The Rolling Stones show was undoubtedly historic. At the time of Fidel Castro, the Stones were a rock ‘n’ roll style symbol that was banned in Cuba. However, over the past 30 years, rock was gradually allowed. Now, with the arrival of The Rolling Stones, it is clear that the island is changing noticeably.

“We know that a few years ago it was hard to hear our music in Cuba, but here we are playing for you in your beautiful country. I believe that, finally, times are changing,” Jagger said in Spanish.

Havana was chosen to close the Olé Tour of Latin America,  which began in Argentina and went through Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.


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Pablo Mingoti

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