The Stones rock China, politely

Reports from China are calling The Rolling Stones’ first concert there on Saturday April 8 their tamest in 30 years. But then other reports are highlighting its “political edge”, calling it “risqué”, lambasting it as a foreigners’ party and still others are calling it “raucous”. So it’s probably advisable to make up your own mind.

One thing is for sure: five regular songs were missing from the show. Censors had advised the Stones to drop “Brown Sugar”, “Beast of Burden”, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Rough Justice” for their lyrics. They complied, but at the pre-gig press conference, Jagger said he “was pleased the Ministry of Culture is doing so much to protect the morals of expatriate bankers and their girlfriends”. By all account, expatriates made up some 80% of the audience. The band eventually opened with “Start me Up”.

A highlight of the Shanghai show came when the band was joined onstage by China’s dissident rocker Cui Jian, whose track “Nothing to my Name” was an unofficial soundtrack to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

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