BRAZILIANT!

NME.COM rubs shoulders with Sting and James Taylor - but where's Axl Rose?...

ROCK IN RIO III starts today (January 12), with headline performances over two weekends from REM, GUNS N’ ROSES, *N SYNC, IRON MAIDEN, NEIL YOUNG and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, after nine months preparation and £20 million investment.

The biggest music event ever to be staged in Rio, it is expected to attract between 1.5 and two million music fans – and NME.COM is out in Rio to bring all the latest news, reviews and gossip all weekend.

The festival kicks off today on a “mellow” note, with major acts including Sting, who we have pictured yesterday (January 11) at a press conference in the city, and James Taylor.

As previously reported on NME.COM, the festival will be launched on a sombre note with three minutes silence, as local artist Milton Nascimento sings John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, and symbolically asks for peace all over the world. TV and radio stations will join in the silence, and the audience at the City of Rock – the venue specially built for Rock In Rio – is expected to wave white cloths and pray.

The twointernational attractions sharing the bill tonight spoke to the press yesterday. Sting, who has visited Brazil several times, has been enjoying the country since before the New Year. As a result, the singer arrived at the press conference exhibiting a healthy tan and looking happy.

He announced he will perform for two hours tonight in a set which will encompass his entire career. He said: “I am very honoured to play in Brazil, because your people have a deep understanding of music. When I perform here, I feel I play to an audience that understands what I’m doing.” The singer was asked about politics and, in reply, said the world was “a total mess”, but declared himself to be “optimistic”.

According to the local press, Sting is currently looking for a house to buy in Rio, following in the footsteps of Bono, who, in a recent visit to the country, bought a house in Angra dos Reis near the city.

Stars performing at the festival are being given full five-star treatment by organisers, who have laid on a special VIP area with a gym, equipped with 18 personal trainers at all times, a tai-chi-chuan exercise area, a spa with free aromatherapy, shiatsu and chakra equilibrium sessions, plus a 1.5 kilometre jogging space, surrounded by an art gallery. There will also be a Japanese restaurant and wine bar at the specially built Riocentro pavilion, which also houses stands selling Brazilian art and crafts for the celebrity souvenir hunter.

Hundreds of fans who gathered at Galaeo Airport yesterday (January 11) at 2:30pm to welcome Guns N’Roses frontman Axl Rose were disappointed when he didn’t show up.

Tommy Stinson and Brian ‘Brain’ Mantia did appear through the arrivals gate, but festival organisers could give no explanation for the singer’s disappearance, and said they are anticipating his arrival later today.