Barcelona, June 1976. Kilometric queues of young people – many groupies among them – crowd to get the desired entrance that will allow them to get closer to their idols. For the first time the Rolling Stones perform in Spain and the chosen stage is Barcelona. Since 1965, the date of the clamorous performance of the Beatles who took over the city wearing naphthalene hats in the heart of Franco’s Spain, there had not been a milestone of such magnitude. Eight years earlier, the Stones had been banned in Chicago for singing their vindictive Summer has come, it is a good time to fight in the street. They were young, they were dangerous and cool, very cool, a real rock band.
They would star in a remembered pitched battle with the fire extinguishers at the Reina Sofía hotel, where they were staying
In our city they would more than demonstrate it, starring in a remembered pitched battle with the fire extinguishers at the Reina Sofía hotel, where they were staying.
In Spain, a whole generation was coming of age that was beginning to glimpse small chinks of freedom, after so many years of obscurantism and repression. At the height of the transition, the mood is expectant and, above all, receptive. Rock will be your cry of freedom and will fire a fuse about to explode.
On June 11, their Satanic Majesties take the alternative in the Monumental arena, offering their only concert to the Spanish fans.
The preparation of the event is taken care of to the maximum: voluminous sound amplification equipment valued at more than sixty million pesetas of the time is used. Special teams from NASA and technicians from Cape Kennedy are in charge of ensuring its smooth operation.
NASA teams and technicians from Cape Kennedy ensure the operation of voluminous amplification equipment
In the last hours before, the brawls begin outside. 11,000 excited young people crowd around the venue. They are hungry for sensations, ready to devour with relish a spectacle that seems unique.
Around nine o’clock at night, under the twilight light, the show begins with the intervention of an unknown opening act. Then John Miles acts. The audience is in tune, spirits are heating up, tension is in the air. It is known that Jagger took the opportunity to have a drink before the performance at the Café de la Rambla, perhaps that is why the beginning is made to beg. At half past twelve, the Stones jump into the ring to the tune of The Wildcat, graceful pasodoble bullfighter. Great anticipation, and then… bang! the chords sound Honk tonk women. A young and sexy Jagger, he was only 32 years old, begins his swaggering. The show has started.
The group performs up to twenty compositions, some from the late 1960s and early 1970s, alternating with the songs from their latest LP Black & Blue. The musicians give themselves conscientiously and Watts on drums, Keith Richards, Wyman and the new signing, guitarist John Wood, put on a memorable concert.
To the sound of the Holy Thorn the Stones say goodbye to their lucky audience
Around two o’clock in the morning, Mike’s naked torso adds the icing on the cake. Exultant, he spills buckets of water and handfuls of confetti on colleagues and fans, who are greeted with delirious enthusiasm. To the sound of Santa Espina the Stones bid farewell to their lucky audience. A mythical concert, already a legend.
The Stones would not be seen again until fourteen years later, on June 13, 1990. On that day, the newly remodeled Olympic Stadium welcomes them with its Start me Up. Barcelona is preparing for the Olympics and needs to get up, as the name of the tour says. The musicians demonstrate that they are in total plenitude, contrary to what is spread about them, and they offer a show that overwhelms thousands of enthusiasts.
Eight years later, in 1998 they performed on the same stage before some 55,000 people and, singing their legendary Satisfaction, they start a concert that critics and the public call añejo, an authentic already seen that does not excite but satisfies.
The band last performed at the MNAC in front of 42,000 fully ‘satisfied’ fans
The band returns to Barcelona five years later. Keith Richards shakes the staff with a masterful and forceful chord, Jagger jumps on stage singing Brown sugar and, before his second performance, he shouts a Barcelona, ”sou de puta mare”, with which he puts the respectable man in his pocket. They interpret another nineteen compositions and dismiss their 60,000 fans – of increasingly disparate ages, as those who saw them in 1976 mature – with a good taste in their mouths that only casts doubt on whether they have attended the last of the concerts of their idols. For some it is a small pleasure to think that yes, that over the years they will be able to say ‘I saw the Stones for the last time in Barcelona’.
But Jagger, Richards and company are still going to star in two other concerts in our city, the last so far. The second is a private performance in the Oval Room of the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, (MNAC) financed by Deutsche Bank in 2007.
Life is hard and it is not the years but the bank accounts so, after having been forced to cancel an announced as well as eagerly awaited concert the previous year for reasons as strange as Richards falling from a coconut tree or a sudden Jagger’s laryngitis, he utters his familiar message in Catalan, with which he puts his young and not so young followers back in his pocket.
It is September 2017 when the Rollings return to Barcelona this time they perform at the Estadi Olimpic. Only Spanish stop of the 14 concerts scheduled in Europe within the tour No Filter Tour, with Los Zigarros as witnesses and exceptional opening act for this occasion. The band fails to fill the stadium but manages to summon 42,000 fnas, a more than respectable figure with which they show once again that they are still in the gap and … ‘satisfied’.