The Rolling Stones return to China, with setlist reflecting government censorship

Mick, Keith and co play their first gigs in the country since 2006

The Rolling Stones have returned to China for the first time since their debut there in 2006, headlining the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena last night (March 12) with a setlist altered due to government censorship.

The band had been set to play the country for the first time in 2003 but the gigs were cancelled due to the Sars crisis. When they did play there, in 2006, songs including ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ were banned by the Chinese Ministry Of Culture.

Last night the former two songs were off the setlist again, with frontman Mick Jagger telling the crowd that ‘Honky Tonk Women’ was “vetoed” by the authorities. Speaking before the show to local media, he had confirmed that the band had to submit their lyrics to Chinese authorities for vetting, as is custom for all foreign bands playing in China.

They played Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China that does not fall under the same censorship rules, earlier in the tour.

The band’s 1971 song ‘Dead Flowers’ was brought into the Shanghai setlist, having not been played on their current world tour so far, as was ‘Street Fighting Man’. The latter song had been chosen by fans on the Stones’ social media channels.

Guitarist Ronnie Wood wore a red T-shirt with a horse on it in reference to the current Chinese Year Of The Horse, with Jagger greeting the audience in basic Mandarin.

Ex-member Mick Taylor is on tour with the band, joining them in Shanghai for songs including ‘Slipping Away’ and ‘Midnight Rambler’.

The tour continues in Singapore on Saturday.

The Rolling Stones played:

Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Get Off My Cloud
‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’
‘Tumbling Dice’
‘Dead Flowers’
‘Ruby Tuesday’
‘Street Fighting Man’
‘Doom And Gloom’
‘Miss You’
‘Slipping Away’
‘Midnight Rambler’
‘All Down The Line’
‘Paint It Black’
‘Gimme Shelter’
‘Start Me Up’
‘Sympathy For The Devil’
‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’