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Rock rolls on, Stones in Cuba

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Rolling Stones Hosts Free Concert in Cuba

This time, U.S. forces were armed with briefing books and press invitations, here to seal the president’s 2014 opening to Cuba with a string of expertly crafted public events that saw Obama call for democracy live on state television, then attend a Major League Baseball exhibition game with Cuban President Raul Castro.

Before the concert, Mick Jagger greeted viewers in Spanish, which was followed by a burst of applause and approving cheers. ‘The Stones were the first to play Russian Federation, the first into China.

A few days after President BarackObama’s historic visit to Cuba, an arguably bigger rock star played Havana.

Some of these Cubans once risked re-education on a work brigade for secretly listening to pirated vinyls when the Communist government banned such music.

“Hello Havana! Good evening to my Cuban people, ‘ shouted Mick Jagger in flawless Spanish as he began the massive free outdoor concert with Jumpin” Jack Flash.

Time changes just about everything.

“Havana, Cuba, and the Rolling Stones!”.

“After today I can die”, Joaquin Ortiz, 62, told the AP. Pope Francis had asked the organizers of the concert to change the date as it was on Good Friday.

“I think we’ll see continuity on the church’s role in human rights, and also its important charity work as well”, says R. Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and scholar of Latin American history.

“We know that years back it was hard to hear our music in Cuba, but here we are playing”, Jagger said, according to Reuters.

It included Out of Control, Angie, Honky Tonk Women, You Got The Silver, Before They Make Me Run, Midnight Rambler, Miss You, Gimme Shelter, Start Me Up, Sympathy For The Devil and Brown Sugar, as well as All Down The Line, which was chosen by fans on social media.

“‘The band’s team were flabbergasted when the Vatican got in touch by letter – couldn’t believe their eyes”, a source told United Kingdom tabloid the Daily Mirror.

“Much as they didn’t want to upset the Pope, they had a contract to play and were going to honour it”.

Between the 1960s and 1990s, rock ‘n roll was discouraged to varying degrees in Cuba, leading during the most repressive years to clandestine listening sessions and an underground trade in smuggled recordings.

Defiant… Keith Richards plays his guitar as the Rolling Stones perform in Havana, Cuba.

But for a generation of older Cubans who loved rock music – albeit quietly – the Stones show may be as significant as Obama’s visit, Zolov said.

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