On 25th March 2016, The Rollings Stones played a gig to 1.2 million people in Cuba. This is my review… of the film of that historic concert.
The Rolling Stones formed in 1962. Just think about that. They were stars by the mid-Sixties, then became mega rock stars in the Seventies after the release of Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), and Exile On Main Street (1972). After a lull and solo projects through the 80s, they started touring more consistently and lucratively, and have basically spent most of this decade doing just that. They have been rediscovered by a new generation, forgotten again, re-rediscovered and are pretty much now regarded as national treasures.
Their most recent South American tour included a free gig in Cuba – the thawing of Cuban/American relations had led to an “unbanning” of foreign rock n roll music, and who better than The Rolling Stones to play the first “rock n roll” gig? And when The Rolling Stones play a free concert, you know it is going to be big: 1.2 million (or 500,000 depending on who you believe, but still!) people turned up.
There’s a line in The Beatles: Eight Days A Week where George Harrison (I think, my memory isn’t what it was!) says that they were worried about their concerts turning into a circus, with The Beatles as the attraction, instead of the music. This was one of many reasons that lead to the Fab 4 stopping touring. In 2016, obviously The Rolling Stones are a now touring attraction. There’s nothing new here, and sure Jagger’s voice isn’t the same – noticeably early on with Jumpin’ Jack Flash – but this is THE ROLLING STONES! They are so far beyond just being a band there almost needs to be a new word. They are more than musicians, they are icons.
And actually, as 75 year old men, a lot of the songs start making sense again. It’s believable that Mick Jagger gets annoyed when “that man comes on the radio” with all his useless information. Keith Richards with a guitar in his hand is still the coolest sight in the world – closely followed by Ronnie Wood. Charlie Watts is just a force of nature on the drums. That give me a chance to tell the old (and almost certainly untrue) story about him – Watts was the happily married member of the group, and the quiet one in the heady, hard partying days. One night, after a few too many, Mick rings Charlie’s hotel room and wakes him up with “Where’s my drummer?” Charlie gets out of bed, puts on his suits, goes to Mick’s room. He knocks on the door, and when Mick opens the door, Charlie says, “Don’t ever call me your drummer!”, punches Mick square in the face, and says “You’re MY singer!”
One day The Stones will be gone and there will never be the likes of them again. Are U2 going to tour constantly for the next 15 years? Or can The Foo Fighters add another three decades of rampant success to their career? Will Fall Out Boy be closing concerts in front of hundreds of thousands of people with Thanks fr th Mmrs in 2055? That’s the equivalent of what The Rollings Stones have done over the past six decades.
The Rolling Stones Havana Moon is everything that is great about their brand of swaggering, stadium-touring, honky-tonking rock and roll. It’s overblown. It’s ludicrous at times. It’s The Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones Havana Moon was in cinemas for one night only, but will be released on Blu Ray and DVD on 11th November 2016.
01. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
02. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
03. Out of Control
05. Paint It Black
06. Honky Tonk Women
07. You Got the Silver
08. Midnight Rambler
09. Gimme Shelter
10. Sympathy for the Devil
11. Brown Sugar
12. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
13. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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PS There have been bands play in Cuba before – Audioslave even have a DVD – but who lets the facts get in the way of a good story? I think technically The Rolling STONES are the first band to play a scheduled tour date… or something.