Backstage with Baldy
Singapore – March 6th
Welcome to the list, Singapore.
No one in the band had been here before, and in only 3 short days, Singapore jumped onto the short list of everyone’s favorite cities.
If you like interesting and unique architecture, great food, nice people, and warm weather, then Singapore is for you.
Singapore was unique in another way; it was the first place we’ve ever been where it was strongly recommended to the band not to play a certain song.
There’s an entity in Singapore called the Media Development Authority, and its job is to keep material it deems objectionable off limits to the citizens of Singapore.
The scope of the MDA’s authority includes film, television, music, video games, and live performances.
At one point in the 1960’s, the song Puff, The Magic Dragon was even banned in Singapore.
So if Singapore’s Media Development Authority tags Man In The Box for its religious references and decides that it shares a similar moral repugnance to Puff, The Magic Dragon, then it’s best to just go along with the decision and not fight it.
This is what you do when you’re a guest in someone else’s country; you follow the rules. Especially when the country in question practices judicial caning as a form of punishment.
We’d also been told before we reached the country that chewing gum wasn’t allowed, and spitting was an offense that you get fined for.
The gum thing was easy enough (although I broke down and had a piece in the production office at one point), but Mike had to practice incredible restraint onstage. If you’ve been to an Alice In Chains show and paid even a slight amount of attention to Mike during the show, you know that he’s a human water sprinkler, so getting him to shut down the water works for a night wasn’t easy.
We had a local promoter rep that took care of us while we were there, and I called her into the office on show day just to go over this kind of stuff one more time before the show, and she gave me a brief rundown of what language wasn’t acceptable onstage.
I really enjoyed having a petite and polite young girl run through a short list of curse words that were fine to use, and then stop at the Mount Everest of all four letter words and say, “But the F word is a no-no”.
So gum chewing, spitting, the F word, and Man In The Box were all out, but it was still a great show.
The Singapore fans were awesome, and my favorite part was watching the handful of Sikh fans down front going nuts.
I love it when things are new or different. And looking out in the crowd and seeing a bunch of dudes in thick beards and turbans bouncing up and down and losing their minds was really cool.
All in all, Singapore turned out to be everything we could have hoped for, despite the lack of gum, spittle, the F word, and Man In The Box.