Monday, November 26, 2012

Elton Dedicates Beijing Show to Dissident

Never one to shy away from controversy, Sir Elton John has caused a stir by dedicating a concert in Bejing to dissident Ai Weiwei.

The Candle In The Wind singer was performing at the Mastercard Arena in the Chinese capital on Sunday. After the second song of his set he told the 10,000 string crowd: "This whole show is dedicated to Ai Weiwei."

Artists Ai Weiwei is a long standing critic of the Chinese government, protesting against their limitations on free speech. Last year he spent 81 days in jail.

According to the gvernment this was because of tax evasion, but many believe it was a reaction to his persistent criticism of the Communist Party.

Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Mr Ai took up the cause of parents who had lost children in poorly constructed schools. He also played a part in the design of the Olympic Birds Nest stadium in Bejing.

This is not the first time a western musician has rocked the boat with a mid-performance comment.

The last time was during a 2008 Bjork gig in Shanghai.

While performing the singer chanted 'Tibet, Tibet, Tibet' during a song called 'Declare Independence'.

Commenting on the issue of Tibet, and China's occupation of the country, was seen as far more incendiary than Sir Elton's remarks about Ai Weiwei.

As a result of Bjork's comments the Chinese givernment stopped all western musicians from performing in China for a year.

Sir Elton's songs and lyrics are likely to have been vetted by the Chinese Culture Ministry prior to the gig.

There is another Elton John show scheduled for December 6th, in Guangzhou, provided the government doesn't cancel it.

Speaking to reporters after the show, Weiwei responded to questions about whether officials would be concerned over the dedication, replying, "(They) are probably not too happy about this, but there is not much that they can do about it. He is a very popular singer who has a lot of influence".

- Gigwise

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