Stones censored, but lively

SHANGHAI, China – Strutting, preening and greeting the audience in Chinese, the Rolling Stones made their debut in mainland China on Saturday in a censored but still raucous show.

The “world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” opened their show with “Start Me Up,” a song with suggestive lyrics that apparently made it past the censors, who banned five other hits. They then pounded through almost two hours of classic rock.

“Dajia hao ma?” – or “How’s everybody doing?” – Mick Jagger yelled to the packed house at Shanghai’s 8,000-seat indoor stadium, where the audience was overwhelmingly foreign. Some paid more than $600 for tickets.

“It’s nice to be here for the first time.”

The concert had all the trademark Stones touches, from ringing guitars to falling confetti and huge inflatable dolls.

Chinese rock pioneer Cui Jian prompted appreciative cheers when he joined Jagger for the ballad “Wild Horses.” Cui was temporarily banned from performing after the deadly June 4, 1989, military crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on student protesters, for whom “Nothing to my Name” had become an anthem.

In another reminder of the heavy hand of China’s authoritarian government, the Stones were told not to sing five of their songs, apparently because of their suggestive lyrics.

The songs were believed to be “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Beast of Burden,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Rough Justice.” But “Start Me Up” slipped through.

Four decades into their career, the Stones remain relatively unknown in China. It did not help that ticket prices ranged up to $374 – about three months’ wages for most Chinese.

Still, Chinese audience reaction seemed largely positive, if a little preoccupied with the band’s longevity.

“So old, and yet he can really perform,” Song Jianghong said, referring to Jagger, 62.

Beijing resident Xue Liang said the Stones enjoy cult status in China.

“They were among the first acts whose music was smuggled in. To see them here in China now is just amazing,” Xue said.

Talking to reporters before the show, Cui hailed the concert as a milestone for him and all rock music fans in China.

“It is a big moment. I will never forget this,” said Cui, who said he believed rock ‘n’ roll needed another five years to truly find its audience in China.

At a Friday news conference, Jagger said he was not surprised to be censored, but added acerbically, “I’m pleased that the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of the expat bankers and their girlfriends that are going to be coming.”

He added that the Stones had another 400-plus tunes they could play.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Fatal 2-car crash closes Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read