at Praia de Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Reviewed by Gisele Pointis, photos by Henrik Fridèn

On February 18th, it seemed that the carnival spirit was all over Rio de Janeiro, but all the excitement had nothing to do with samba. It was all about Rock ‘n’ Roll. The free Stones concert in Rio, attracted 1.2 million people to Copacabana Beach, where the mega-show took place. Fans who came from Argentina chanted “Let’s go Stones” as the beach filled with children, seniors who remember the Stones from their early days, and European and North American tourists.

For those who could not attend, the show was broadcast throughout Brazil live on television and radio, and around the rest of the world via satellite radio and the internet. Fans in the United States also had the option of watching the show at selected movie theatres around the country.

Depending on the band’s evaluation of the quality of the performance, a DVD may be issued later this year. The show was filmed by more than 50 cameras, including some mounted on helicopters or aboard boats just offshore, where numerous yachts with partying fans were anchored.

Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones were not performing for free, though. Two telecommunication companies were the main sponsors of the event, with the Rio de Janeiro municipal government absorbing some of the infrastructure costs. A press spokesman for the promoter of the event, Luiz Oscar Niemeyer, declined to disclose how much the group was paid or to discuss any of the other financial aspects of the concert, but city officials said that their share of expenses was about $750,000 and estimated the total cost of the event at about $4.5 million.

The band arrived onstage across a bridge that was built especially for them, and that took them straight from the hotel where they were staying. From that moment on, the crowd sang along and rocked hard during the whole amazingly presented show performed by the band that never seems to age. The Stones opened this Saturday night gig with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” followed by “It’s Only Rock And Roll,” and the set-list incorporated a good mix of newer and older hits.

Mick Jagger, who has a 6 year-old Brazilian son, and who seems to be familiar with the native language spoken in this South American country, impressed the Brazilian mass when he improvised some comments in Portuguese.

Several video screens and sound towers were erected for the many fans who could not get near the stage, which surprised everyone when it moved out into the spectators, slowly gliding through the center of it all, so that The Stones were swallowed up by the crowd of adoring fans all around. The show transformed Copacabana into a spectacle of light and sound, as thousands watched and sang along from windows and balconies of hotels and buildings near the beach and from boats massed offshore.

This was the first time rockers Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts had played for free in Brazil. Only a handful of the crowd would be able to afford to see top international bands in concert, so this free spectacle was certainly a treat.

Rolling Stones The VIP area was packed with celebs, including the actor Owen Wilson, who claimed to be a major Stones fan. The Hollywood celeb from Texas told Metal Express Radio that he watched his first Stones concert in the 80s in his hometown of Dallas, but had never been to such a big show like the one in Rio.

The free concert was one of the biggest in history, but this event wasn’t the biggest the city has seen. The Guinness World Record honours British rocker Rod Stewart who drew almost 3.5 million people when he performed on the same beach, on New Year’s Eve in 1994. Even though it didn’t break the Rio record, the ageless band was definitely amazing and managed to rock the night away, leaving the crowd more than satisfied.

Fearful of outbreaks of violence, panic, or stampedes, police officials of Rio said they had deployed the largest security contingent for any public event ever held here. More than 10,000 police, fire, and emergency medical personnel guaranteed safety during the show. In the end, the concert went off without major problems. Even firemen and security guards near the stage were dancing by the time the Stones ended the show just before midnight with “Satisfaction.”


– Jumpin’ Jack Flash
– It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
– You Got Me Rocking
– Tumbling Dice
– Oh No, Not You Again
– Wild Horses
– Rain Fall Down
– Midnight Rambler
– The Night Time Is the Right Time
– This Place Is Empty
– Happy
– Miss You
– Rough Justice
– Get Off of My Cloud
– Honky Tonk Woman
– Sympathy For the Devil
– Start Me Up
– Brown Sugar
– You Can’t Always Get What You Want
– (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

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