You can’t always get what you want - but the Rolling Stones left a million fans satisfied at a free show on Brazil’s famous Copacabana Beach.
“It was sensational, marvellous,” said Fernando Monteiro, 25, of southern Parana state as the Stones finished their two-hour-long free show in Rio de Janeiro.
Boats, including a huge ocean liner, crowded the shoreline, and helicopters circled overhead during the show that shut down the Copacabana Beach district but fell far short of the record 3.5 million that packed the beach on New Year’s Eve 1994 to watch Rod Stewart.
Civil defence officials said 300 people were given medical treatment and police estimated the crowd at around one million.
Throughout the day people flooded into the beach, staking out places for the show that brought a carnival spirit to the city a week ahead of the world famous celebration.
Wilson Teixeira, a 26-year-old car dealer from Sao Paulo, waited eight hours pressed against a barrier to see the band from what was effectively the front row.
“I saw them in 1995 and they were better this time, more energy,” Teixeira said.
The band opened with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and played a set of mostly older hits, with a few songs from their newest album, “A Bigger Bang.” During the show, Sir Mick Jagger, who has a Brazilian son, ad-libbed comments in Portuguese, delighting the crowd.
On Friday, Jagger met with his six-year-old-son Lucas but disappointed fans who thought the veteran rocker might turn out to see the boy’s mother, TV talk show hostess Luciana Jimenez, when she appeared as a featured dancer during a rehearsal for a samba group on Friday night.
The band arrived onstage at around 9:50pm local time, crossing a specially-erected footbridge that took them directly from their hotel.
Eight video screens and 16 sound towers allowed those far from the action a glimpse of the sexagenarian rockers.
The city deployed 10,000 police officers – about three times the usual contingent for the traditional New Year’s festival – as well as 600 firefighters, civil defence workers and lifeguards, said Ana Maria Maia, Rio’s sub secretary of special events.
This is the Stones’ third visit to the country but the first time the band has played for free in Brazil, where few can afford tickets to see top international acts.
Fans were also camping outside Sao Paulo’s Morumbi stadium on Friday, hoping to be among the first into tomorrow night’s concert by U2.
Organisers were overwhelmed by huge crowds when the U2 tickets went on sale last month. Police were called in to restore order when some infuriated fans threatened to break into the stores where tickets were being sold.
One who won’t have to wait in line to meet lead singer Bono is Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He has invited the activist-rock star to Sunday lunch in Brasilia, the capital.