Brow Beat

The Rolling Stones Just Gave a Historic Concert in Cuba

The Rolling Stones gave a free concert at Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva complex on Friday night, performing before an audience estimated at 450,000. It was the last stop on their America Latina Olé stadium tour, which began in Santiago, Chile on Feb. 3. The concert came the same week of Obama’s historic visit and was the first open-air rock concert by a Western band. The band posted their set list on Twitter:

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Rock music was banned in Cuba in the 1960s—though by 2011, the state Culture Ministry owned and operated an unlicensed Beatles theme bar—so seeing the Stones in Havana was a special experience for Cubans who lived through the post-revolution crackdown. Mick Jagger opened the show in Spanish, greeting the crowd, “Hola, Habana. Buenas noches mi gente de Cuba.” They were accompanied by Cuban choir Entrevoces on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The best sources for photos of the show are, not surprisingly, Cuban newspapers, so in the interest of cultural exchange, here are photo galleries from Granma, Juventud Rebelde, Tribuna de la Habana, and Trabajadores. Courtesy of Cibercuba, here are their show-openers, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But I Like It)”:

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Cibercuba also got great footage of Cubans waiting to get into the show, including a handmade Che-Guevara-with-Rolling-Stones-lips banner. The only person who wasn’t on board with the concert was Pope Francis; the Vatican sent a letter to the band urging them not to perform on Good Friday. Unfortunately for the pontiff, you can’t always get what you want.

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If seeing the Rolling Stones play Havana puts you in a “Behold! The ravages of time!” kind of mood, here they are playing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” at Madison Square Garden in 1969 (as featured in Gimme Shelter):

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