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China says no to Kraftwerk, yes to former Sex Pistol

Chinese officials have refused permission forveteran German electronic band Kraftwerk to perform in the country but sanctioned the first concert by PiL, fronted by former Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon, promoters said on Friday.

Chinese officials have refused permission forveteran German electronic band Kraftwerk to perform in the country but sanctioned the first concert by PiL, fronted by former Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon, promoters said on Friday.

Kraftwerk had agreed to headline next month's Beijing Strawberry Music Festival but were denied permission by the Ministry of Culture, festival organisers Modern Sky Records said.

"They didn’t get approval from the Ministry of Culture," Peng Peng, a concert manager for Modern Sky, told dpa when asked about Kraftwerk.

"They won't give us a detailed reason," Peng said of the ministry's decision.

Some observers speculated that the refusal could be linked to Kraftwerk's scheduled performance at a Free Tibet concert in Washington DC in 1998.

The band, which shot to fame with the 1974 hit Autobahn, cancelled the performance in Washington because of poor weather.

Kraftwerk were still scheduled to perform in Taipei on April 30and Hong Kong on May 4 during an extensive Asian tour.

Lydon and PiL, or Public Image Ltd, were scheduled to perform in Beijing on Saturday and Shanghai on Sunday after Chinese officials approved the band's song list and lyrics.

Known in his Sex Pistols days as Johnny Rotten, Lydon would be allowed to perform Sex Pistols classics Anarchy in the UK and Pretty Vacant in China, British music magazine NME reported.

"The Chinese government asked me to send every lyric I have ever written, and they surprisingly approved me," Lydon told NME.

"They have either incredible good taste or they have no idea what I'm going on about," Lyon said. "I can't wait to find out." Peng said foreign performers were "very often" asked to change lyrics or omit songs from their sets during the approval process.

"We have to submit the audios, videos and lyrics of the band to the Ministry of Culture," he said.

"They review it. If they think the lyrics are not proper, or somel ive videos are too extreme, too bloody, too obscene or too violent, they will ask you to change the song," Peng said.

"If you don't want to change it, you just cannot perform (in China)," he said. "If you have any political problem, it will beimpossible for you to come." Once approval is given, the artists must perform "exactly thesongs that were approved," Peng said.

"There will be people supervising that on the scene," he said.

Peng said performers were sometimes asked to change specificlyrics rather than complete songs.

"That’s the easiest way," he said of changing the lyrics. "But the band might not agree. They might think, 'It's not my work anymore, I don't want to perform it. I’m not coming'." He said PiL were allowed to perform because they were different from the Sex Pistols and had "no dark history" of political problems with China.

"People are going to have to understand that I’m not the same as Iwas 35 years ago," Lydon told the Beijing-based Global Times newspaper.

"If you come to a PiL gig with the Sex Pistols in mind, you're going to end up a bit puzzled," Lydon said.

The government said it would take a more cautious approach to approving foreign performers after Icelandic pop singer Bjork backed independence for Tibet during a concert in Shanghai in 2008.

Bjork cried "Tibet, Tibet!" followed by "Raise your flag!" towards the end of her final song, "Declare independence." In November, British singer Elton John dedicated a concert in Beijing to artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, but he made no comment about Ai's work.

Many other leading international musicians have performed in China, including US singer Bob Dylan, who played in Beijing and Shanghai in 2011 after allowing the Chinese government to vet hisplaylist.

When veteran rockers the Rolling Stones played in China for thefirst time in 2006, they agreed to cut five songs containing sexually suggestive lyrics from their playlist, including Honky Tonk Women.








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