The Rolling Stones, “Havana 2016” (No Label)
Intro / Jumpin’ Jack Flash / It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It) / Tumbling Dice / Out Of Control / All Down The Line / Angie / Paint It Black / Honky Tonk Women / Band Introductions / You Got The Silver / Before They Make Me Run (58:58)
Midnight Rambler / Miss You / Gimmie Shelter / Start Me Up / Sympathy For The Devil / Brown Sugar / You Can’t Always Get What You Want (With Coro Entrevoces) / Satisfaction (78:02)
Live at Ciudad Deportiva De La Habana, Havana, Cuba, 25th March, 2016.
The Rolling Stones premiered in Cuba at the behest of the country where, way back when, it was verboten, even impossible, to listen to the band, now trade deals and sanctions between the US and Cuba have been relaxed, things are getting easier both for the acts themselves to bring themselves to the state and for the fans who have patiently waited to see them in the flesh. Bankrolled by Gregory Elias, the Cuban lawyer who owns the foundation Bon Intenshon, a scheme that looks to broaden social betterment through the country, the Stones concert at Ciudad Deportiva De La Habana was ushered through red tape a few months previously and co-incided with a visit by Barack Obama only a week before, two statements that the country was finally ready to accept their overseas cousins.
Even the fact that the show had been offered only a few months earlier, works were put in to place to assure Cuba that moving the weighty and complex stage set up that the band were using wouldn’t be a concern, there were only a handful of technical delays on the night and such was the event, the show was marked out to be a free show like the event on Copacabana beach in Rio, 10 years earlier where it was suggested that an estimated 1.5 million people turned up (Historic shows, however free, are still marketable though and selling the rights to TV or possible DVD releases, even streaming rights, still herald some return for the band – JA Digital were on hand to film the concert in full and with 3D recordings of the bands Hyde Park show in the archives, lets hope they caught Cuba too.)
The band generally withheld any public statements over politics – the only mention was in Spanish and even then it was to make the agreeable suggestion that times were indeed changing for the better – tonight was all about the music after all. The feel good event of a life time and one that a lot of Cuban’s had waited that life time to attend.
Despite the implied poverty of most Cuban households and the state of the ‘venue’, there were obviously a few attempts at capturing the prosperity of this exclusive event and thankfully, the No Label gang have managed to obtain a lively recording of this show, much better than a lot of the other outdoor recordings from festivals with fewer numbers of attendees at their disposal. Generally very clear with the odd smattering of audience noise (This is brilliant however – Check out the excitement in the guys voice who hears Keith suggest that he’d rather like to buy a house there), it slips in to electronic distortion a couple of times but usually this comes as an imposition to the audience chatter rather than the music.
The set is a standard setlist from the tour – the ‘by request’ number was “All Down The Line”, the Exile track is hardly a rarity but excites the crowd as it’s intended to.
The No label gang don’t always harness quality control for their output and sometimes you’re left wanting – Interestingly some of the indoor stadium gigs that the Stones played last year were best left or were bettered by different sources on different labels, this recording is different however and for an exclusive event, they’ve got us a brilliant tape. Of all their releases in the past year or so, this is top 3 if not THE piece to collect. Beautiful artwork as standard too.