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One of the world’s greatest rock bands, Led Zeppelin, is set to perform at an open-air stadium in Beijing on Friday, a day after announcing plans to take up residency in the country for a decade.
In a statement, lead singer Robert Plant made no mention of the date or the venue but said the concert was “as necessary in the current times as it was in the past”. “We would encourage the government, fans and the Chinese people to join in singing, dancing and partying at this time of year. With a little imagination, it can be a great spectacle,” he said.
China’s Communist party, which traditionally prefers to keep its affairs in private, has traditionally shunned foreign bands, as they do not fit with its more closed culture. But since the country’s last major concert in 1980, there have been growing signs that government officials have started to change their tune, opening up to the foreign rock scene, particularly with acts such as Bono, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.
“The music industry in China has suffered a period of stagnation as a result of the government, and we are happy to see that there is a lot more competition in this area,” said Wu Qingtai, head of the China Rock Bureau of the European Union’s music division.
Although China has no formal capacity limit, venues must agree in advance to allow bands to take up to 50 members to the country. “For China to realise rock music’s potential as a cultural industry it needs to have a larger number of spaces to offer this form of music – that’s why it’s so important not just to have rock concerts, but to be able to offer rock music and other forms of music,” he said.
Led Zeppelin have been at the forefront of bringing rock to China since last December, when they announced plans to tour the country in November.
China’s state broadcaster, China Central Television, announced a new program promoting rock music on Thursday and invited bands to submit proposals ahead of Friday’s opening concert.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper claimed that most Western rock bands chose to play their first concert in China after starting
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