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Rolling Stones to play mega-show in Brazil

Nearly 2 million people are expected to turn out on Copacabana Beach
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Rolling Stones promised a bigger bang, and they’ll get one in Rio.

City officials said Monday they expect nearly 2 million people to turn out for the Stones’ “A Bigger Bang” free concert on Copacabana beach Saturday.

“This is the biggest live show that has ever occurred in the world,” said municipal Health Secretary Flavio Tanure at a news conference announcing the city’s preparations.

Tanure was probably exaggerating a bit: The Guinness World Records Web site credits the largest live concert to Rod Stewart, who reportedly drew 3.5 million for a New Year’s Eve 1994 performance — also at Copacabana Beach.

Millions of people flock to the famous 2.5-mile beach each year for Rio’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which features a fireworks show and bands playing on several stages.

Crowds are expected to fill full half of the beach Saturday, with the Stones performing on a single stage. Eight video screens and 16 sound towers will allow fans far from the stage a glimpse of the sexagenarian rockers.

Security is a concern. Earlier this month, three people were crushed to death and 38 injured in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when thousands of fans surged through security barriers at an autograph session for the Mexican band RBD.

But authorities said they weren’t worried about a repeat at the Stones’ concert.

“It’s similar to New Year’s, and we have significant experience with live shows on the beach,” said Tanure.

Ana Maria Maia, Rio’s subsecretary of special events, said the city would deploy 10,000 police officers — about three times the usual contingent for New Year’s — as well as 600 firefighters, civil defense workers and lifeguards.

The show marks the Stones’ third visit to Brazil, but the first for free in a country where few can afford tickets to see top international acts.

Fans across Brazil were chartering vans and buses to get to Rio, and Mayor Cesar Maia said tourists from as far away as Chile were coming for the concert.