Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie give Cuba its first taste of Rock n’ Roll March 25, 2016 – captured live on the “The Rolling Stones – Havana Moon.” A turn-out of hundreds of thousands greeted the band who provided a free outdoor concert to the masses that included re-working of some old classics, “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”(But I Like It), “Gimme Shelter” and “Start Me Up”, and some less-often featured gems sounding fresher live, such as “All Down The Line” and “Out of Control” coupled with Richard’s raw voice delivery on “ You Got The Silver” and “Before They Make Me Run.” This release includes DVD+2CD, Blu-ray+2CD, DVD+3LP plus special Deluxe Edition.
Rock n’ Roll fans may well reflect upon their first Stones concert when they hear the roar of this audience, attested to by the man at center stage, “You could feel the buzz of the enthusiasm from the crowd” Jagger remarked… “It was an incredible moment.” Considering all the live releases that have followed this band since “Get Yer Ya- Ya’s Out!” in 1970, there is a certain well-worn familiarity that can creep in to the set list. But not this moment. The Rolling Stones seem rejuvenated by a new set of ears, powered by a yearning Cuban audience, released from 50 years of cultural censorship. The emotional surge rolls onto the stage and is fed back to these fans by the band (particularly evident on the DVD). Jagger, Richards and band are caught-up in responding to a massive wave of enthusiasm and authentic welcome from over half a million strong – all on their feet – as if every song were an encore.
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Several cuts distinguish themselves as highlights on this release – including “Out of Control” from the ‘Bridges To Babylon’ album, where Jagger stirs the audience into singing the opening refrain, backed-up by 3 soulful singers and bringing new-found emotion to a 73 year-old voice. The bassist’s rhythmic thump keeps the beat slow coupled with a mean and lean distortion guitar solo by Richards, with Jagger breaking-in on harmonica adding further pulse. Later Richards takes center stage with “You’ve Got the Silver” and his reckoning voice pairs well with Wood’s steel-edged slide guitar. A hot version of “Midnight Rambler” becomes an extended jam towards the end of the set, with some inspired harmonica runs by Jagger. The song’s tempo change gives Jagger a chance to catch his breath, getting his “Oh Ya’s” interplay in with the audience and a revved-up Ron Wood delivers a rapid-fire staccato lead as the “rambler” closes it down with a romp.
Not all familiar songs deliver. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Start Me Up” sound a bit walked through, and the slow build of vocals needed for the beginning of “Gimme Shelter” is drowned out by the roar of fans. But there are many moments of buzz and give and take on stage between Jagger and Richards and the band, driven in no small part by the sheer enthusiasm of the audience (witness DVD). With the occasion of such an historic performance – by one of rock n’ roll’s greatest bands – and such positive celebration and feedback from a new multitude of Cuban fans – you can’t help but give the Rolling Stones a pass, well, for being the iconic standard-bearer of rock and still having fun.