The Rolling Stones arrived in China on Thursday for their first-ever concert on the mainland. The band will perform on Saturday at Shanghai s Grand Stage, an 8,000-seat converted indoor stadium.
This isn’t the first time they’ve tried to come to the country. In 2003, they cancelled two concerts amid a SARS epidemic in the region. (They did, however, play in Hong Kong in late 2003 after the outbreak ended.)
But singer Mick Jagger told the Shanghai Daily newspaper last week, “We all know that Shanghai is a big important city, so we wanted to make sure it’s on our itinerary.”
At the height of the group’s popularity in the 1960s and ’70s, China was largely shut off from Western influence, and the band remains relatively unknown in the country.
Although the government has loosened restrictions in recent years, the Stones’ 2002 greatest hits collection, 40 Licks, was lightened to 36 licks by Chinese censors, who cut the songs “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Beast of Burden” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” from the mainland release, likely for their suggestive lyrics, the Associated Press reports.
Whether or not the group will perform those songs live remains to be seen. They are currently traveling the world on their “A Bigger Bang” tour.