RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – The spirit of carnival arrived a week early in Brazil with a free Rolling Stones concert before a crowd of over 1 million people at Copacabana Beach.
The band opened the Saturday night gig with "Jumpin' Jack Flash," cheered on by fans who had staked out spots before the enormous stage.
Fire department officials estimated the crowd was over 1 million at the show's start but that more people were coming. Officials estimated that as many as 2 million could see the concert.
"It's going to be an amazing show," said 19-year-old Barbara de Carvalho, a student from Sao Paulo who had camped on the beach since Thursday. "I've waited for this all my life."
Photographers and fans also crowded around the Copacabana Palace hotel where the Stones have been staying since arriving here Friday.
Fans said the guitarists Keith Richard and Ron Wood appeared from time to time on the penthouse balcony to wave at them.
A specially erected footbridge took them from the hotel, over the beachfront Avenida Atlantica and directly to the stage.
On Friday, Mick Jagger met with his 6-year-old son Lucas, but disappointed fans who thought the Stones might turn out to see the boy's mother, the TV talk show hostess Luciana Jimenez, when she appeared as a featured dancer during a rehearsal for a samba group Friday night.
The city deployed 10,000 police officers — about three times the usual contingent for New Year's, said Ana Maria Maia, Rio's subsecretary of special events.
Earlier this month, three people were crushed to death and 38 injured in Sao Paulo when thousands of fans surged through security barriers at an autograph session for the Mexican band RBD.
This is the Stones' third visit to the country but the first time the band has played for free in Brazil, where few can afford tickets to see top international acts.
Fans were also camping outside Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium on Friday, hoping to be among the first into Monday night's concert by the Irish band U2.
Organizers were overwhelmed by crowds when the U2 tickets went on sale Jan. 16. Police were called in to restore order when some infuriated fans threatened to break into the stores where tickets were being sold.
One who won't have to wait in line to meet lead singer Bono is Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He invited the activist-rock star to lunch on Sunday in Brasilia, the capital.