The Rolling Stones have held countless concerts in nearly every corner of the world over the course of its nearly 55-year life. From the UK to Asia and across the Americas, the British rock outfit has been there and done that plenty of times. For all of the concerts that the band has held throughout its life, few have held or hold the importance of the concert that the band held on March 25, 2016. It was on that night that The Rolling Stones became the first rock band in the country’s history to play a free concert in Havana. The concert came only days after President Barack Obama became the first American President in 88 years to pay a visit to the island nation. It was one of the most momentous occasions in the band’s history, and this Friday audiences around the world will be able to see the concert for themselves when Havana Moon is released in stores and online. The concert boasts plenty of positives, beginning with its set list. That will be discussed shortly. The band’s performance of its set list is just as important to note as the songs in examining the recording’s overall presentation. It will be discussed later. The concert’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the concert’s presentation. All things considered, they make Havana Moon a shining beacon in The Rolling Stones’ extensive live catalogue.
Havana Moon, The Rolling Stones’ new live recording, is a shining beacon in the band’s extensive live catalogue. It is a landmark concert because there is no telling if the band will ever perform on the island nation again. It boasts plenty of positives, beginning with the show’s set list. The show’s 18-song set list features a favorable sampling of the band’s most beloved songs including ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Paint It Black,’ ‘Brown Sugar’ and so many others. There are also some lesser known pieces included in the set list such as ‘Angie,’ ‘You Got The Silver’ and ‘Out Of Control.’ Audiences that pick up this record will find the show’s musical mix relatively familiar due to that set list. While the set list may not necessarily break any new ground for the band, it was new ground for the audiences in attendance. Their appreciation for hearing the classic compositions shows throughout the concert. That appreciation by the audiences will make audiences more familiar with the set list that much more appreciative of the set list even despite already knowing said song. The familiar set list and the audience’s appreciation of said set list do plenty to make Havana Moon an enjoyable recording. The band’s performance of each song is just as important to note here as the songs themselves.
The songs that make up the body of Havana Moon are important in their own right to the recording’s presentation. That is because while the songs are familiar to most audiences, they clearly were not so familiar to the Stones’ Cuban audience. The audience’s appreciation for the songs will generate a whole new appreciation for the songs among audiences who are more familiar with the songs. That is because seeing their reaction allows more seasoned audiences to experience the songs in a whole new light. While the songs and the audience’s appreciation thereof are clearly important to the recording’s presentation, they are not, collectively, the only important pieces of the recording’s presentation. The band’s performance of the show’s set list is just as important to note as the set list itself. That is because many of the renditions presented in this concert are unlike any that the band has done before. The band’s take of ‘Pained Black’ is just one of those unexpected performances. Most people know this song as being a rather powerful composition thanks to drummer Charlie Watts’ work at the base of the song. Keith Richards’ guitar line sits atop Watts’ timekeeping and solidifies the song’s instrumentation even more. The band’s performance of the song in Havana is anything but what one would expect of the song. The band’s performance of the song here is much more reserved than in its normal presentation. If the band has ever performed the song in the style presented here, then said instances are very rare. That makes this performance all the more important. The band’s rendition of ‘Honkey Tonk Women’ stands out just as much here as that of ‘Painted Black.’ It is a little bit slower than the band’s normal renditions, but not by too much; just enough to make it noticeable without taking anything away from the song in this case. Of course one cannot ignore the extended take of ‘Midnight Rambler’ here. The band’s performance feels so organic even as it runs more than 15 minutes. It is one more example of how the band’s performance stands out in this recording just as much as the songs chosen for the concert. There are plenty of other performances throughout the show that stand as examples of what makes the band’s overall performance just as important to the recording’s presentation as the songs themselves. All in all, they join with the performances noted here to show in whole why the band’s performance of its set list is just as important to the recording’s presentation as the show’s set list. It still is not the last important element to discuss. The recording’s companion booklet is just as important to note in its presentation as the show’s set list and the band’s performance thereof.
The set list that is featured in Havana Moon and the band’s performance thereof are both important in their own right to the recording’s overall presentation. Audiences who are familiar with the featured songs will gain a whole new appreciation for them as they see the Cuban audience—many of whom were experiencing the songs for the first time ever—show their own appreciation for getting to hear them. The band’s performance is just as important to note here because in many cases, the band’s performances of certain songs are completely unlike those in any other live setting. They give said songs brand new identities. Both elements are clearly important in their own right. Yet they are not the recording’s only important elements. The recording’s companion booklet is just as important to note in examining the recording’s overall presentation as the show’s set list and the band’s performance. That is because it presents a rich background picture of the concert courtesy of Jonathan Watts. Watts starts the concert’s story with a mention of President Obama making his own historic visit to Cuba only days before The Rolling Stones. From there, he highlights all of the work that went in to making the “Concert For Amity” a reality. It then transitions into the story of the concert. That story includes the reaction of both the band and the audience to one another. By the time Watts reaches the story’s end, the importance of the concert becomes crystal clear. He shows through his story why this concert is an important part of not only The Rolling Stones’ history but also of Cuba’s history and that of the entire world. That understanding creates even more appreciation for the concert, and in turn, leaves audiences understanding that this is truly a special recording that Rolling Stones fans and music lovers alike should have in their music libraries.
Havana Moon is an important piece of Cuba’s history. It is also an important part of The Rolling Stones’ history and that of the whole world. The band isn’t the first-ever band to perform in Cuba. But it is the first band to hold a free concert in the island nation’s capital. From its set list to the band’s performance to the recording’s companion booklet, there is so much included here that serves to illustrate the importance of the concert. One could also cite the recording’s editing, varied platforms on which it is available and much more to show why it is such an important performance. All things considered, Havana Moon shows itself in the end to be a recording that Rolling Stones fans and music lovers alike should have in his or her own music library. Havana Moon will be available Friday, November 11th in stores and online. More information on Havana Moon is available online along with all of The Rolling Stones’ latest news and more at:
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