April 8, 2006 was the night The Rolling Stones finally played the Chinese mainland for the first time.
Shanghai was the only Chinese leg on their two-year ‘A Bigger Bang Tour,’ the band arriving from Japan on a jumbo jet loaded with almost 100 tons of equipment and set pieces. At the press conference in the Four Season’s Hotel, Keith Richards declared of finally making it to the Middle Kingdom: “I feel like Marco Polo!”
Mick Jagger made light of the fact authorities had asked the band to cut five songs (‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Honky Tonk Woman,’ ‘Beast of Burden,’ ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together,’ and ‘Rough Justice’) from their repertoire because of suggestive lyrics, saying they had 400 other songs to choose from, adding that he was “pleased that the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of the expat bankers and their girlfriends that are going to be coming.”
The show itself was unanimously declared an absolute belter, with an 8,000-strong crowd cramming into the Shanghai Grand Stage and millions more watching it live on CCTV. The band even invited Cui Jian – ‘The Father of Chinese Rock’ – to join them on stage to play ‘Wild Horses’ (above).
The final encore? ‘Satisfaction.’ The audience certainly got some… yeah, yeah, yeah.