Tuesday, July 5

From the attack of the grays to the red carpet: the Rolling Stones return to Spain

It is risky to say that this could be the last tour of the Rolling Stones in Spain, because they have been threatening the same idea for more than 20 years. They don’t even lavish a little. The last time Mick Jagger’s men set foot in a stadium in these latitudes was the Barcelona Olympics in 2017. Three years earlier they had sold out their “possible last concert” at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. The energy and ambition had charge for yet another: the tour sixties, which begins this Wednesday, June 1, in the capital, but in the rival stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano of the Atléticos.

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Their Satanic Majesties landed this Monday in Madrid and were far from secluded in their hotel. Some privileged walkers of the Retreat ran into its three members in front of the fallen angel statue, one of the few pieces that represent Lucifer in the world. Later, they enjoyed a flamenco evening, dined at a restaurant on Calle Almagro – where Jagger spent 60 euros and left a tip of 200, according to the maitre– and they dropped out before their 22nd concert in Spain.

The Madrid City Council has been bragging about the visit for months. The delegate of Culture, Andrea Levy, has also echoed in her networks the tourist route that they recommended to the rockers. These days, Madrid boasts of hosting the Rolling Stones as if they were one more monument and rolls out the red carpet for them.

Last year, the band’s legendary drummer Charlie Watts passed away at the age of 80 from throat cancer. Those who will take the stage at the Wanda therefore are Mick Jagger (78 years old), Keith Richards (78 years old) and Ronnie Wood (74 years old). It’s the first time they’ve gone on tour without their fourth member and they promised it would be the last. “We’re going to put all our energy into it, it’s the last tour after all,” Jagger said in an interview with Esquire.

As for the repertoire, they have not wanted to reveal too much. sixties It is made up of 14 concerts that start in Madrid and finish at the end of July in Stockholm. Accompanied by drummer Steve Jordan, they will play classics like Gimme Shelter, Paint It Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction either start me up. But they have also wanted to keep aces up their sleeves on their 60th anniversary, a way to ensure expectation in the chronicles the next day.

Ticket prices have also taken advantage of the “last tour” rumor: the range ranges between 88 and 280 euros, which does not include distribution costs. Far away are the 900 pesetas paid by those who first saw the Rolling on June 11, 1976 in Barcelona. And that Spain is also far from being the one that today embraces its rock from glamor and not from the margins, as it did then.

The Spain of the Rolling of yesterday and today

“It’s amazing how many people at the age of 14 ran away to see the Rolling Stones and it opened their minds. It was a country in black and white and, modestly, I put a little color on it”, Gay Mercader told this newspaper a few years ago. The Catalan promoter dodged post-Franco regulations to schedule concerts never before seen in our country, including a British rock band that had been calling for more sex, hard drugs and lewdness in their lyrics since the 1960s. They were already performing in London, but it took more than 15 years to arrive.

It was on June 11, 1976 when La Monumental de Barcelona hosted an event that will remain etched in musical anthologies: the first concert of the Rolling Stones in Spain. Mercader describes it as “a painful journey”.

“We started in Cambrils and there they banned us saying that guys who raped the girls came out of the trucks. Then they released that I wanted to set up a homosexual nudist camp and they prohibited me again, ”explained the promoter. That summer after Franco’s death, in the middle of “medieval Spain”, the Rolling performed in front of a mass of 11,000 people, although the capacity allowed more than 18,000.

What seemed like a financial failure turned out to be the best of their luck: “The grays thought we didn’t have enough special effects and they shot smoke canisters from outside that fell into the empty stands in the background. If they get to be full, there is a stampede, deaths and there are no more concerts in Spain for the next fifteen years”. It was not necessary to understand the letters for the logo to transmit values ​​far removed from the society of that time.

The grays thought we didn’t have enough special effects and they fired smoke canisters from outside.

gay merchant
Promoter of the first concerts of the Rolling Stones

“Criticism made me give birth. That if the singer was already old, that the group had only entertained the staff…”, recalls Mercader. At that time Mick Jagger was 33 years old. 45 years later, and with the singer still on stage, that criticism sounds implausible. Despite the difficulties, the 1976 concert put Spain on the European map and the big groups discovered that there was life for rock beyond London or Paris. For this reason, when they returned in 1982, this time to Madrid, they filled the Vicente Calderón for two nights in a row.

The weather and the show were the basis of all those chronicles. The waterspout that fell in Madrid destroyed the props that Their Satanic Majesties had brought. But the show went on, and Jagger pocketed for the audience all that his rambling Spanglish you allowed. Not even the president of Spain, Felipe González, missed the occasion. All this made Tattoo You It will go down in history as the legendary tour of the Rolling.

What has changed since then? Those of Jagger know that the classics fill stadiums, so the repertoire has varied just enough in four decades. Honky Tonk Woman sounded opening then and has been relegated by jumping jack. But the lighters –now mobile flashlights– continue to waver in the air with their bucolic ballads, before with Wild Horses and now with streets of love. Substantial transformation is economic. Gay Mercader’s friendship is no longer enough, now the hiring figures are astronomical and are reflected in the price of tickets.

Far from the rejection that they provoked in the Francoist police and the Government in Transition, the Madrid politicians boast of having bid harder than other communities for this tour. In short, there are notable differences, but they will all dissipate this Wednesday when the first spotlights are turned on at the Wanda Metropolitano and Richards’ guitar begins to play.