National

Updated: March 27, 2016

Rolling Stones Cuba concert was mostly politics-free

By Ben Lawson

Video includes clips from the BBC, Miami Herald and the Vatican and images from Getty Images.

The Rolling Stones have officially brought their music to Cuba with a performance that seemed mostly free of a political agenda.

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For years, many Cubans listened to bands like the Stones in secret because their music didn't line up with the government ideology. But Friday's massive, free performance was meant to show that Cuba is opening up to the rest of the world.

According to the band's announcement, the concert at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana was "the first open-air concert in the country by a British rock band."

Frontman Mick Jagger and company mostly avoided any political statement during the show, except for acknowledging the band's presence in the country was a sign "times are changing."

Some estimates say nearly half a million people attended the celebratory performance.

The event capped off a week where a sitting U.S. president visited the country in nearly 90 years.

One concertgoer told The Guardian there is a feeling among Cubans that "something good" is happening.

But not everyone saw the concert as a sign of good things to come. One democracy activist said the government was using it as a symbol of an "opening that isn't really taking place."

And at least one world leader did take issue with the event — the pope, though it wasn't because of politics. The BBC reports he asked the Stones to postpone the concert because it conflicted with Good Friday.

The concert was a part of the Rolling Stones' America Latina Ole tour that is traveling through Central and South America.

They have also started a push to donate musical instruments and equipment to benefit Cuban musicians across all music genres.

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