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Published:February 20th, 2006 08:03 EST
2 million flock to beach in Brazil for free Rolling Stones concert

2 million flock to beach in Brazil for free Rolling Stones concert

By Maria Grella

Fans of the legendary rock band, the Rolling Stones, began planting themselves on the sands of Copacabana Beach Friday, in anticipation of the group’s free concert Saturday. In support of their new album, A Bigger Bang, the Stones couldn’t have picked a better place to have a big bash. Millions flock to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil each New Year’s Eve for the huge fireworks display and various bands performing. The crowd not only consisted of Brazilian fans but also tourists; an estimated 2 million people were expected.

City officials were hyping the show to be the biggest live concert in history. According to the Guinness World Records website, the honor is currently held by Rod Stewart for his 1994 New Year’s Eve performance; reportedly 3.5 million people turned out on Copacabana Beach, though it is unclear how many were there to celebrate the New Year festivities versus there to see Stewart. Rod Stewart is still credited with the honor, as over one million attended the Stones’ concert, less than expected.
Copacabana Beach is 4 kilometers long, (2.5 miles) and was set up with 16 sound towers and 8 video screens. Security was tight in Brazil, as 10,000 police officers, 600 firefighters, civil defense workers and lifeguards were deployed. The excessive measures, three times the amount of a usual New Year’s Eve bash, were to avoid a repeat of a recent fatal event. Earlier this month, Sao Paulo hosted an autograph session for the Mexican band RBD. The crowd became unruly and crashed through barriers, crushing 3 people to death and injuring 38. The city’s port authority also prepared for the arrival of fans, as they entered by boats, vans and buses.

The security increase paid off. Officials said nearly 500 people had sustained minor medical treatment during and after the show, but no major injuries were reported. Left behind on the beautiful sandy beach was 220 tons of trash. It took about 400 city workers to haul the debris out.

This was the Rolling Stones first free concert in Brazil, but third visit; an act very much appreciated since many are unable to afford to see top international acts. Donning a shirt with the Brazilian flag, frontman Mick Jagger, who has a 6 year old son with Brazilian dancer Luciana Jimenez, spoke to the crowd in Portuguese. Starting up the two hour rock show with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the set-list largely featured old hits, with a few new tracks from their latest album release.