Bon Jovi concerts in China cancelled due to support for Tibet and Dalai Lama

A string of Bon Jovi’s first-ever concerts in China have been cancelled, presumable after the Culture Ministry discovered a photo of Bon Jovi with the Dalai Lama

World Religion News:

It looks like Jon Bon Jovi won’t be singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” in Mandarin any time soon. The long-standing rock front man of the self-named band Bon Jovi would have been performing for the very first time in China at major concerts in Beijing and Shanghai if the Chinese government hadn’t forced those shows to be canceled, TIME reported. Currently on a major world tour with concert dates scheduled across Asia in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and others, the dates scheduled in Bangkok and Shanghai were canceled by Chinese authorities, who have not given any explicit reasons to the band or to the organizers of the tour, AEG Live Asia.

The most prevalent theory about why the sudden cancellations occurred that has been circulating the Internet is relatively obvious considering, if it turns out to be true, Bon Jovi would just be part of a string of bands to be banned from performing shows in China because of their support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama. As was reported in the Financial Times, apparently the very powerful and influential Culture Ministry for China’s ruling Communist Party found an image of Bon Jovi performing in front of a giant video screen with His Holiness the Dalai Lama featured on it at a concert in 2010.

“The issue of Tibet is especially sensitive right now as the Communist Party marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of what it calls the Tibet Autonomous Region”, said TIME.

Approaching the ever controversial 50th anniversary of what many in the Western world view as a continuing travesty in which China began governing Tibet after the Battle of Chamdo in 1950, the same time when the current Dalai Lama was enthroned. After being forced into exile in India with the remnants of the Tibetan government, where they established the Central Tibetan Administration in exile.

Pro-Tibet stances are not new or unusual, and many of the world’s most famous stars and celebrities have made public their support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama. There have been several other bands and musicians who have found themselves banned from China for support of Tibet, like Bjork in 2008, to Maroon 5, who were supposed to play a concert in China this month, but were forced to cancel after one member of the band tweeted a “Happy Birthday” message to the Dalai Lama’s active Twitter account of nearly 12 million followers.

TIME reports that Bon Jovi’s Chinese concerts’ organizers were attempting to convince the Culture Ministry of the People’s Republic of China to reconsider the move to cancel the concerts, but it does not appear at this time that Bon Jovi’s status in China is likely to change.

Why do most concerts held in Japan prohibit taking pictures?

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RocketNews 24:

For anyone who enjoys live music, part of the fun is taking photos of the band or recording video to relive the experience at home or show off on Facebook. It’s a tradition that strengthens the connection between bands and their fans long after a concert is over. Especially in this digital age, many bands depend on the power of social media to connect with new audiences they could never reach before.

If you’ve ever attended a concert in Japan, you know this is not the case. You will almost always see “No photos” and “No video” signs posted all over concert venues. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching a foreign artist or a local one, you are not allowed to take pictures, and a host of security personal will remind you of the fact.

Find out why this is the case, and which big musical act might be turning the tide, after the jump.

Paul McCartney; One Direction; Taylor Swift; these are only some of the artists who have played or are scheduled to play big shows in Japan in 2015. The Asian market is huge, and the top musicians aren’t skipping out on Japan when they go on tour. Die-hard Japanese fans have noticed that footage and photos of concerts held outside of Japan are constantly being uploaded on Facebook and Twitter, even though fans in the Land of the Rising Sun have to settle for expensive DVDs to relive their concert experience at home.

Oddly, copyright infringement isn’t always the culprit here. If the video and audio recordings are only being reproduced for personal use, then the recording isn’t breaking any laws. The concerns generally lie elsewhere. In order to avoid chaos at a concert site, sponsors and venue executives can establish specific regulations.

And then avoid this…

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Even without using big, professional photographic equipment, fans holding handheld cameras or phones above their heads will block the field of vision of concert goers behind them. Plus, if there is a rush of people wanting to take pictures of the musicians, it can get very dangerous. For the concert sponsors and organizers, there is a responsibility to provide a safe environment for the fans.

But with more and more foreign artists playing shows in Japan, organizers are starting to take notice of what the fans want. There is a slow but steady movement of Japanese artists who are experimenting with allowing pictures and video to be taken at their concerts.

Japanese rock band Sekai no Owari is nonchalantly leading this charge as they allow their fans to take photos and recordings of their concerts.

Sekai no Owari

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It seems to be just a politeness factor in Japan, but with the growing number of smartphones and the advent of social media, this system might certainly change. In the future, you might be able to record a concert in Japan for your own viewing at a later date, and you can thank the music group with the clown in it. Be sure to remember to remember that.

Guangzhou (China) House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

 

HYPEBEAST: 

The last stop of the House of Vans Asia tour concluded in the city of Guangzhou, providing a three-day program of diverse cultural offerings to the local community, as well as tourists alike. Although Guangzhou may not be the first place to spring to mind when one thinks of creative locales in China, the illustrious city has long been leading the line in economic and cultural developments, yearning only for a platform to showcase the creativity it has to offer. House of Vans provided this platform, where multiple workshops grounded in art and expression brought together the like-minded community and even mothers who took their infants to experience the occasion.

Kicking off the first day were renowned photographers Tobin Yelland and Lele Saveri, teaching students the art of self-publishing through DIY zine classes. Shanghai art duo Idle Beats carried on the momentum by educating design and illustration students on the entire process of making a screen print, from design to creation, and finally printing a custom tote bag. Taking a different approach than to the previous House of Vans events to represent the more edgy side of expression, tattoo artists from Sunrat Tattoo in Korea and famed Chengdu-based artist Keke offered up free tattoos of which were well-received, causing local kids to line up in front of the venue from the early morning hours in a bid for some free ink.

A House of Vans event would not be complete without a slew of talented local and international music acts. Thus, the evening portion of the festivities saw Hong Kong-based punk rock drummer Kevin Boy open the stage to pave the way for Beijing indie/synth band The Big Wave. The first night was then capped off with Montreal indie dance band We Are Wolves, which ended everything off in climactic fashion and made sure the crowd stayed dancing into the early hours of the morning. Saturday night showcased a more hip-hop-laden roster as local crew Chee Productions successfully whipped the packed house into a frenzy by bringing out a surprise performance by Beijing’s MC J Fever. However, the next act that followed was arguably the highlight of the evening, where special guest Pusha T performed a full set of his most popular songs and verses, from the likes of ‘Grindin” to G.O.O.D Music tune ‘Mercy.’ The musical performances did not stop there though and DJ duo Two Fresh brought things to a close with an explosive performance. Sunday night also saw a rap-infused event and an MC battle by the Iron Mic brought together a plethora of young aspiring artists to battle it out in front of friends and family.

Notwithstanding what Vans is predominantly known for, the three-day event also provided a program of skateboarding activities open to all. Independent skate/surf photographer Leong Zhang took out a crew of young photographers to give them insights into the intricacies required for shooting skating activities. Using the Vans China/Hong Kong skate team as the subjects for the class, the participants took note of the details and angles that transform a great photo into a legendary photo. Two days of skate contests for amateurs and pros were also offered as Chongqing artist Panda and local graffiti crew Dickid created a monster 6-meter tall, Sk8-Hi-inspired set filled with a mammoth quarter-pipe as well as street obstacles painted by American artist Rich Jacobs. The much-anticipated jam-format contests brought out the pro’s representing five local skate brands: Vagabond, 8FIVE2, HKit, Symbolic and Hero, who all battled it out to take home the winnings. After impressive displays of tricks and creativity from all those involved, it was the 8FIVE2 team from Hong Kong that took the title for best street run and Shenzhen-based team Vagabond winning the best quarter-pipe jam.

Enjoy the recap above and head over to House of Vans Asia for more information regarding the events, while you can also check out recaps of the previous stops in the tour here.

 

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

Image of Guangzhou House of Vans 2014 Recap

 

Beijing smog a work hazard for Mariah Carey and soccer stars

China pollution
A masked man walks by the National Stadium in Beijing amid heavy smog.

L.A. Times: 

The first “airpocalypse” of fall hit Beijing this week, but local residents are not the only ones being forced to deal with the smothering smog blanketing the Chinese capital. World-class cyclists and soccer stars from Argentina and Brazil, as well as American pop diva Mariah Carey, are also contending with the city’s choking air.

Beijing’s air quality index has stayed above 300, categorized as “hazardous” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, since Wednesday. The local government raised its air pollution alert to orange, the second-highest level, advising people of all ages to avoid outdoor activities and suspending sports classes at schools.

The heavy pollution arrived just in time for the five-day Tour of Beijing, but organizers did not cancel the cycling event, which started in the nearby city of Zhangjiakou, which had lower levels of smog. The world’s top professional cyclists, including Alejandro Valverde, who finished fourth at Tour de France this year, kicked off the event Friday morning. The race ends with a 73-mile ride through the heart of Beijing on Tuesday.

Carey, meanwhile, was set to perform outdoors in Beijing’s Workers Stadium on Friday evening, and international soccer stars including Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar were scheduled to attend. Messi and Neymar arrived in the city this week with their national teams to prepare for a highly anticipated game Saturday evening.

Three months ago, a dream matchup in the World Cup final between Argentina and Brazil was spoiled by Neymar’s injury in the quarterfinals, which led to Brazil’s disastrous 7-1 defeat in the semifinals to Germany. The Beijing game promises a faceoff between two of the world’s most beloved soccer stars, but the city’s hazardous air might diminish the experience for players and fans.

The game between Argentina and Brazil, billed as “the South American Superclasico,” is set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday in Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, which hosted soccer games during the 2008 Olympics. To prepare for Saturday evening’s game, stars from both teams, including Messi and Neymar, attended practices on soccer fields in the open air Thursday, when the AQI reached as high as 499, one point shy of the maximum value of 500 for most serious air pollution.

During the practice, Messi frequently used his hands to cover his mouth and nose, and had to stop to rest many times with his hands around his waist or knees, Chinese press reported. He was pulled out of the practice early.

Weather forecasters have said rain and wind should arrive Saturday night, blowing some of the smog out of Beijing. Still, Chinese soccer fans have started to worry that their favorite players will not give their full effort under such conditions.

The soccer stars are using their lives to take the challenge of playing a soccer game in the smog. No matter how much money they make, it might not be enough for their medical bills afterward,” one commentator wrote after a story in Chinese press about Thursday’s practice.

But the Argentine national team’s new manager, Gerardo Martino, who took over the team after the World Cup, downplayed the air quality’s role in a game between the greatest rivals in international soccer.

Argentina against Brazil is the most important derby between national teams. It doesn’t matter where the match is held, it’s always important for the history between us and now also for the players,” Martino told reporters Thursday.

Brazil’s team doctor, though, has apparently recommended that aside from practices, the athletes stay indoors and avoid outside air as much as possible.

One of the pieces of advice that those responsible for pollution control give is that people should stay indoors and this is what we have done,” Rodrigo Lasmar, Brazil’s team doctor, was quoted as saying by the Estado de São Paulo newspaper.

“Our athletes stay inside the hotel and only go out for training. Out of every 24 hours, they spend 22 inside the hotel.”

For the Chinese soccer fans who have been waiting for the game between Argentina and Brazil for months, many are also concerned that the smog might spoil their viewing experience.

What if I can’t tell Messi from Neymar at Saturday night’s game?” Sun Puxue wrote in a post on Chinese social media website Weibo.

After the goal keeper kicks the ball with a long pass, all the players on the field may start wondering where the ball went,” another user from Beijing joked.

X Japan plays in front of 70,000 people at home. Now they’re slumming it at Madison Square Garden

X Japan at the Summer Sonic festival in Japan, 2011.

New Yorker:

 

As one of the world’s biggest rock stars, Yoshiki Hayashi is at his most comfortable playing stadiums, basking in the adoration of tens of thousands of screaming fans. On a scorching-hot day in August, though, a thousand or so curious folks at the Baltimore Convention Center would have to do. Yoshiki had flown from Los Angeles, where he lives part-time, to perform at Otakon 2014, the country’s second-largest anime festival. The event was an opportunity for attendees to promenade in costume as their favorite fictional characters and for the Japanese musician to chip away at the tough-to-crack American market.

Wearing a gray frock coat and leather pants, Yoshiki, 48, strode onstage at the center’s drab ballroom a little after noon, taking a seat behind a piano. The audience, teeming with girls dressed as sorceresses and boys decked out as inter-dimensional manga ninjas, sat politely attentive as he and a string quartet performed selections from his recent highbrow foray Yoshiki Classical. The album had gone to No. 1 on iTunes’ classical charts in ten countries, none of them the United States—not bad, but ho-hum for Yoshiki, bandleader and drummer for X Japan, a heavy-metal group that’s sold 30 million singles and albums worldwide (and a mere 3,500 or so here). There was pleasant applause for the song he’d written at the request of Emperor Akihito and the romantic tune he worked on with ex–Beatles producer George ­Martin. Then Yoshiki raised his hand for silence. “X Japan,” he said in his high-pitched voice, “have decided to rock ­Madison Square Garden.” Fans shrieked as X Japan rhythm guitarist Pata and bassist Heath, fresh in from Tokyo, both resplendent in ruffles and studs, walked onstage. (Singer Toshi and lead guitarist Sugizo were at home dealing with other promotional duties.) Three-fifths of X Japan unleashed a few minutes of bombastic hard rock, a teaser for their October 11 concert at the World’s Most Famous Arena, the 32-year-old outfit’s biggest-ever U.S. headlining performance. As Pata and Heath took their bows, Yoshiki made the kind of request he wasn’t used to making. “If you’re around,” he said, “please come to our show.”

I live a double life,” says Yoshiki, sitting in his dressing room later. “It can be very strange. Though I like having a country to go where I can buy groceries and no one notices.” The quantitative facts of Yoshiki’s career are irrefutably impressive—he and his band have sold out the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome 18 times, for example—but to an American interviewer, it’s still cognitively wonky to hear this unassuming guy in lipstick and a leather jacket say things like “I remember asking David Bowie about the best way to draw the line between real life and onstage life” and “I tried to book a studio but I couldn’t do it because Metallica was using it, so I bought the studio for several million dollars.” In Japan, “it’s a Michael Jackson level of insanity around Yoshiki,” says Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus, who has played with X Japan. “It was shocking to witness.”

Yoshiki is used to his humbler status on this side of the Pacific—sort of. “I was at the Golden Globes in 2012,” he says, waving away a handler’s offer of a sandwich wrap (he’s on a no-carb diet). “One of the red-carpet interviewers said, ‘Who are you? I don’t need you.’ ” He grins—what a world, right? “That would never happen in Japan.

So why bother with America? The Madison Square Garden show is not part of any larger tour, and while it should satisfy the band’s tiny U.S. audience, it’s hard to see it creating many new fans. (Yoshiki estimates that half of the ticket buyers are Japanese expats living in New York.) Then there’s the music—ridiculously over-the-top heavy metal—which doesn’t sound like anything on domestic radio. And sure, Yoshiki has been called the “Bono of Japan,” but the other Bono—see the underwhelming response to U2’s recent Songs of Innocence—isn’t exactly at a peak of cultural relevance.

Yoshiki knows the odds, and he doesn’t care. “When I was 18, I said we would sell millions of records and fill the Tokyo Dome, and we did,” he says matter-of-factly. “For a new goal, I realized that every band in the world wants to play MSG, so it’s time to do that, too.”

This isn’t the first time the band have tried to break Stateside. In 1992, X Japan signed with Atlantic Records and came to Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room to announce the deal. The press conference was a disaster. “We didn’t speak any En­glish,” says Yoshiki. “We had no idea how to communicate. I like to be mysterious, but no one cared.” A planned album was quickly scuttled.

It wasn’t until 2010 that X Japan again ventured westward. But rather than road-dog their way to new fans, Yoshiki & Co. played a mere seven North American cities, all with large, presold Asian populations. So how does X Japan plan to make headway in America when they have no tour dates outside of Manhattan and haven’t released an album of new material in 18 years? Speaking over the phone and through an interpreter, Toshi answers obliquely and optimistically. “We are a band,” he says, “that looks forward to challenges.”

They’ve had plenty. X Japan’s back story is a Behind the Music narrative blown up to epic proportions. When Yoshiki was 10, his father committed suicide. To help him cope, his mother bought him a drum kit. At a record store in his home city of ­Tateyama that same year, he had an epiphany. “I saw a Kiss album cover,” Yoshiki remembers, still lounging in the dressing room, fiddling with his crucifix-and-handcuffs necklace. “I asked the people at the store to play it for me.” He nods. “That was,” he says, eyes gleaming, “my entrance to rocking.”

Inspired by Kiss’s theatricality and the Sex Pistols’ anti-authoritarian sneer, Yoshiki and his friend Toshi formed X in 1982. (The “Japan” was added in 1992 to distinguish the band from the Los ­Angeles punk stalwarts X.) Taking as their motto “the violent crime of visual shock,” Yoshiki, Toshi, bassist Taiji, and guitarists Pata and Hide became, in Yoshiki’s words, “human animation characters,” teasing their hair into elaborate gravity-defying structures, donning makeup and gender-bending outfits. “At the time,” recalls Yoshiki, “cabs wouldn’t stop for me because I had spiked blond hair. Now they would—if I took cabs.”

The band performed pummeling songs with titles like “Orgasm” and “I’ll Kill You” that quickly placed the quintet at the forefront of a flamboyant new movement dubbed “visual kei,” which is essentially Japanese glam rock. “The Japanese can be very conservative,” explains Ryu Takahashi, a former publicist for Sony Music’s Japanese division, “but there’s a long tradition of androgyny and extremism in the culture, and X Japan tapped into that.”

Then—cue ominous voice-over—everything went wrong. In 1997, Toshi left the band and joined a mysterious community called Home of Heart. “I don’t call it a cult,” he says, “but they did brainwash me and con me out of money.” In 1998, the charismatic Hide reportedly ­committed suicide, hanging himself in his apartment following a night of heavy drinking. X Japan split up. “It was too painful to carry on without my friends,” admits Yoshiki.

For a while, anyway. In 2007, he says, “we decided to bring back the dream.” The reunion peaked with concerts at the largest venue in Japan, Nissan Stadium in Yokohama (capacity: 72,327), during which Taiji, who’d been kicked out of the group in part for his alcoholism, was welcomed back. But things took another tragic turn when the bassist was rendered brain-dead after a failed suicide attempt. He died in 2011. “Our band has been so full of drama,” Yoshiki says quietly. “It’s almost like it’s too bad to be true.”

That drama has helped keep X Japan famous at home when most other visual kei groups have faded away. “There’s always some People magazine story with them,” says Takahashi. “The gossip keeps people interested.”

For now, things seem to be trending in the right direction. “Only four years ago we played in the United States for the first time, and now we are playing Madison Square Garden,” says Toshi. “That’s proof we’re rising in popularity.” Yoshiki is optimistic, too. “Fifty thousand people in Tokyo or 20,000 people at MSG,” he says, “the size is not the point.” He leans forward. The point is that “X Japan,” he says, grinning, “must keep trying to rock the world!