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Iranian band plans concert with Chris de Burgh

Iranian authorities have approved a plan for concerts by an Iranian pop group and singer Chris de Burgh in Tehran, the group’s manager said on Saturday. The concerts, set for the middle of next year, would be the first time since the 1979 revolution that an Iranian pop band had played alongside a Western singer inside the Islamic Republic, Arian’s manager Mohsen Rajabpour said.

Rajabpour, director of Taraneh Sharghi music company, said Arian and de Burgh had recorded a song called “A Melody for Peace” which he said was intended “to reflect the peace-seeking spirit of the Iranian people to the world.”

“We are trying to organize the concerts, scheduled for June and July,” he told Reuters, confirming a report carried by Iran’s Fars New Agency.

The plan is to hold the concert at a 12,000-seat stadium complex in Tehran. De Burgh is expected to visit Iran early next year as a tourist for discussions on the project.

De Burgh, born of British parents and brought up in Ireland, is popular in Iran and his Web site message board (www.cdeb.com) has several entries from Iranian fans.

“Iran is definitely one of those countries I would love to visit. Not only for historical reasons but also for the fact that I believe that music is an international language and deserves to be heard all over the world,” de Burgh replied to one Iranian in a message posted in 2002.

Western pop songs with lyrics are banned by Iran’s authorities although state radio sometimes plays instrumental versions. Iranian pop bands say their lyrics and tunes are vetted before they can be officially sold in Iran.

Pirate versions of the latest Western albums or songs by underground Iranian groups are available on the black market.

“The head of the music centre of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has officially announced that there is no problem with holding a joint performance,” Rajabpour said when asked whether his plan had been approved.

Iranian pop groups say plans to hold concerts have to go through a tortuous process to obtain permission. Lyrics are studied to ensure they do not contradict Islamic values and even the music style, such as the use of guitar feedback, prompt disapproval for having too much Western influence, they say.

Iran is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions which Western nations fear are aimed at building bombs. Tehran insists its intentions are entirely peaceful.

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