British heavy metal legends IRON MAIDEN made their highly anticipated first-ever visit to China on “The Book Of Souls” world tour, playing at Beijing LeSports Center on Sunday, April 24.
According to the Polish IRON MAIDEN fan club SanktuariuM, MAIDEN did not alter “The Book Of Souls” setlist for the Beijing show, although several minor changes in the performance were made — presumably at the reqest of China’s Ministry of Culture, which had to approve all of the band’s lyrics prior to MAIDEN’s Chinese dates being confirmed.
Among the changes:
* There were no pyrotechnics used during the show.
* During the performance of “The Trooper”, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson did not wave a Union Jack flag, but, as can be seen in the video below, he still sported the red coat uniform worn by troops during the battle which inspired the song and waved an “invisible” flag while singing the track. In addition, the Union Jack flag was still prominently displayed on the backdrop during MAIDEN’s performance of the song.
* Bruce changed the lyrics to the chorus of the song “Powerslave” from “Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave” to “Tell me why I had to be a Wicker Man.”
* IRON MAIDEN was not allowed to throw stuff (wristbands, drum heads, etc.) into the crowd during the concert.
* Bruce didn’t swear and had to be careful not to use the “F” word.
IRON MAIDEN’s setlist for the Beijing concert:
01. If Eternity Should Fall
02. Speed Of Light
03. Children Of The Damned
04. Tears Of A Clown
05. The Red And The Black
06. The Trooper
08. Death Of Glory
09. The Book Of Souls
10. Hallowed Be Thy Name
11. Fear Of The Dark
12. Iron Maiden
13. The Number Of The Beast
14. Blood Brothers
15. Wasted Years
IRON MAIDEN will play a second show in China on April 26 at the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Vetting by the Chinese authorities for foreign bands and artists isn’t uncommon and has resulted in many big names being refused entry to the country to perform.
THE ROLLING STONES were censored in their China debut in 2006, most likely for their songs’ suggestive lyrics. “Brown Sugar”, “Honky Tonk Woman”, “Beast Of Burden” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together” were banned from the concert.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “authorities [in China] require entertainment companies to jump through hoops, submitting minute details of their show, including setlists. The process reflects the control held by China’s censors, who try to prevent incidents like one in 2008, in which Icelandic singer Bjork sang at a Shanghai concert about the ever-politically sensitive issue of Tibetan freedom.” Speaking about her comments at the time, a spokesperson for the ministry of culture in China stated: “[Her] political show not only broke Chinese laws and regulations and hurt the feeling of Chinese people but also went against the professional code of an artist.”
The members of METALLICA revealed in 2013 that they were asked to send the lyrics to their entire discography to the Chinese government for approval before they were given permission to play in the country. “We had to give them a whole set of songs and they went through all the lyrics and okayed which ones we could play, which ones we couldn’t play,” METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett said. “They see a lyric like ‘Master Of Puppets’ being so subversive that they’re not allowing us to play it. It’s kind of scary.” Added METALLICA frontman James Hetfield: “And that just brings more attention to it, of course. That doesn’t work.”