The Rolling Stones are set to make a sensational return to Warsaw over fifty years since they last played in the Polish capital. With the arena in Chorzow already booked to host Guns’n’Roses this coming summer, speculation has mounted that the Stones will choose instead to perform at the National Stadium in Warsaw. Should they do so, the move will inevitably stir memories of their last performance in the capital.
Seen as a seminal moment in local cultural history, their two gigs in 1967 are entrenched in Polish folklore. “It was as if a UFO had landed in our gray communist world,” recalled one fan. Tickets, issued exclusively to ‘friends of the party’, were gold dust. Touts made a fortune, though many fans simply resorted to brute force to charge their way in past baton-wielding cops guarding PKiN’s Sala Kongresowa. It’s estimated that by the time the band took the stage, over 5,000 people had squashed inside a venue that had an official capacity of half that.
Legitimate ticket holders sat po-faced in the front rows while at the back commotion grew as youngsters maximized this chance to act like their Western counterparts. Mick, at his peacocking best, antagonized an already volatile situation by spitting flowers at the front row and gesticulating at the police.
Keith, meanwhile, went one step further: “You fucking lot,” he railed, “you can fucking get out and let the bastards in the back down the front!” Sala Kongresowa erupted in a way Stalin could never have imagined… Running battles were waged outside in the interval between concerts, and Bill Wyman later claimed that The Stones were so shocked that they later drove around town handing out LPs to their hardcore fans.
The two gigs, parts of which can be found on YouTube, have gone down in Warsaw legend, and while they remain cloaked in more myth than fact, one thing is certain: this was a concert to remember. “Was that a hurricane that hit Warsaw yesterday?” asked one newspaper headline, “No, it was The Rolling Stones!”