maandag 26 september 2016

Havana Moon. The Rolling Stones Live in Cuba

One day, one cinema show, worldwide. Exclusivity all around. We reported on one such an event once before: 'Celebration Day', the movie of Led Zeppelin's one off reunion show.

Following The Rolling Stones on Twitter helped here and a few days before the cinema show I had my tickets secured. A bit to my surprise the show was far from sold out on Tuesday. Come Friday 23 September the room was full.

2016. The umpteenth movie, video, dvd, live album by the Stones. And yes, I liked it so much. On a big screen, the band up close, the music loud and perfect. Much better than at any live show, let alone the Amsterdam ArenA. It came close to the Imax experience of the early 90s.

The music is so well known. The only surprise to me was 'Out Of Focus'. Why play that song?, I had often wondered seeing the setlists from South America. I know why now. It is a song that has a perfect build up, an inner tension that is released each time in the chorus and definitely funky as shit. And allow me to pull out 'You've Got The Silver', that beautiful blues song sung perfectly (yes) by Keith with the lovely slide tones by Ronnie. I'll end there. The rest has been played for two millennia by now. And it is so good, but not new.

Let's look at the movie itself. What I really liked is that the director not only followed the show and effects of The Rolling Stones' live monster, but truly followed the music itself. The performance and inner dynamics within the band. So we did not only get the friendly smiles Ronnie and Keith give each other and the hairtossling of Mick to Ronnie. No, we followed the cues the bandmembers give each other. We got to see the whole band looking at Jagger, the question large on each face: "when is he going to come back into the song and stop the audience participation?" We saw Keith nodding to Charlie, saying here we go and the tempo is kicked up. We got to see the raised hand that announces the end of a song. There were many of these small flashes in the movie. Moments that define a successful show. Moments that define the quality of a band.

The four Rolling Stones are senior citizens  And it shows. They are not really trying to hide it either. In the interview before the movie I saw four men who are getting on in live. Set them on a stage and this transition takes place. They are still four rock gods who enrapture each other and God knows how many people in the audience. Both Cuba and the world('s embassies in Cuba) had turned out to see something Cubans have not been able to see ever before.

And there is another feature this movie shows. The universal strength of music. I don't know how hard the ban on things western were in Cuba itself. Just that it was impossible to get by due to the embargo on trade with Cuba. Let's face it, it was not as if the people in the audience didn't know the songs. Music can't be stopped and people find ways to get by it.

Four men, and their hired guns, who put on a great show, with their greatest hits set and can tour as long as limbs allow them to do so. "We are still getting better", Keith Richards says in the movie. The Rolling Stones can grow with such an excellent set of musicians around them. "It is you who keep us going", Charlie muses.. Yes, but it is you guys who make us want to come. Your songs, your shows, your exuberance, that make us forget that we are getting on in life as well. The greatest rock and roll band in the world? Perhaps no longer, but from their generation there is only one left in competition and in size. And they are best friends since the early 60s.

Havana Moon. I loved it. Tied to a comfortable chair, I wanted to dance, sing and clap my hands. Perhaps we all did there in Pathé Haarlem, but no one dared to do so. The thought that we could have is hardly a solace.


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