Cuba crowds gather for Stones concert

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Fans began arriving early at the Ciudad Deportiva venue

Tens of thousands of Cubans have been gathering in Havana for a landmark free concert by the Rolling Stones.

Fans queued for hours to get into the grounds of Havana’s huge Ciudad Deportiva venue.

The concert comes after a historic visit to Cuba by President Barack Obama and is being seen as another sign of real change on the island.

Until about 15 years ago Cuba’s communist government banned most Western rock and pop music.

It was deemed decadent and subversive.

But Cuba has changed significantly in recent years, particularly in the past 18 months as the process of rapprochement with the United States has quickened, says the BBC’s Will Grant in Havana.

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Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood arrived in Cuba on Thursday

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Music from the Stones was banned from state radio until the beginning of the 2000s

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Cuban fans thanked the band’s generosity for agreeing to play for free in Havana

Fans travelled from many parts of Cuba and other countries to witness what some described as a historic moment.

“It was forbidden. We couldn’t have the Beatles or some singers from Latin America. Now we are allowed to hear what we want to hear,” a fan told the BBC.

“The visit from Obama [earlier this week], and now the Rolling Stones. It’s just unique and historic. So, yeah, nice to be here,” said another one.

The Rolling Stones released a short video saying their concert was a sign of change in Cuba.

“Time changes everything. So we’re very pleased to be here,” said Mick Jagger.

“It would have been surprising for this to happen 10 years ago,” he added.

At least a million people are expected to watch the British band’s first concert in Cuba from 00:30 GMT (20:30 local).

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