MEXICO CITY — The Rolling Stones made a triumphant return to Mexico a decade after they last performed in the country, delighting a crowd of about 60,000 fans who packed a sports stadium in the capital.
Mick Jagger celebrated Monday night’s concert by poking fun at actor Sean Penn, whose secret interview with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán while the convicted drug lord was a fugitive from justice has provoked controversy in Mexico.
“Sean Penn came to interview me at the hotel, but I escaped,” the British band’s frontman said to cheers and roars of laughter.
Penn’s article was published by Rolling Stone magazine in January a day after Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was recaptured by Mexican authorities following his second brazen prison escape months earlier.
Speaking in a heavily accented but charming Spanish, Jagger said the Stones were “having a great time in Mexico” and expressed fondness for the city’s iconic Zócalo, or main square, for “lucha libre” wrestling and for the ancient pyramid ruins of Teotihuacán outside the capital.
“It has been 10 years since we last came to Mexico,” Jagger said. “It’s cool to be back.”
He also joked that the band enjoyed drinking tequila but now they prefer mezcal, another agave-based spirit which is known for its smoky flavor.
Performing beneath three huge video screens at the Foro Sol arena, the band kicked off the show with the classic “Start Me Up.”
“Hola Mexico! Hola güey!” Jagger exclaimed, employing a uniquely Mexican slang word that roughly translates as “dude,” before launching into “Tumbling Dice.”
Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts powered through other hits including “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It),” ”Out of Control,” ”Wild Horses” and “Paint It Black,” before sending the crowd home with a rousing rendition of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
The Rolling Stones are wildly popular in Mexico, and many local fans refer to the band as “Their Satanic Majesties” in a nod to the title of their 1967 album.
The Stones will play a second show Thursday in Mexico, the penultimate stop on their “Ole” tour of Latin America.
Then they’re off to Havana for a historic free concert on March 25, three days after U.S. President Barack Obama wraps up his own landmark visit to communist-run Cuba.
Like on other stops on the tour, it fell to a star-struck local band to warm up the crowd in Mexico City.
“It took us a whole day before we told our parents that we would open for the Stones’ concerts in Mexico. Even we didn’t believe it!” said Santiago Casillas, singer and guitarist for the group Little Jesus.
“My mom almost cried,” Casillas added, “and my dad was paralyzed by the news.”