Bob Dylan covered five decades of his music during a nearly two-hour set at Shanghai Grand Stage last Friday night. The concert was attended by an international audience, with many languages peppering through the hall. Dylan began the show with “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking,” a lesser known song from his neo-Christian years before moving onto “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” a breakup folk song off the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album that he often plays in concert.
For the third song, with perhaps a nod toward his critics, Dylan performed “Things Have Changed,” a sly song from Wonder Boys that won Dylan an Oscar. “People are crazy and times are strange/ I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range/ I used to care, but things have changed/ This place ain’t doing me any good/ I’m in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood.”
The stage set was pretty spare with emphasis on the shadow Dylan against the back curtain rising up above the actual singer. The audience was quiet at first but grew more animated as the show went on, offering particularly loud cheers for “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Like A Rolling Stone.”
As is usual, the songs were reworked and the arrangements sounded quite different from the recorded versions. Still, it would have been hard not to immediate recognize the distinctive chords of classics like “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Highway 61 Revisited.”
My personal favorite from the evening was a power rock version of “Desolation Row.”
Dylan alternated between playing keyboards (with organ sound), harmonica and guitar. His band was solid; I’ve seen a few of the guys in the band play with him many times. Tony Garnier, the bassist, has been with Dylan for more than 20 years and lead guitarist Charlie Sexton has come and gone but has been a Dylan compatriot since the mid-80’s (when Sexton was a teenage prodigy).
A fair number of tracks were from the Love & Theft and Modern Times albums and some audience members may not have been as familiar with them. There was loud cheering after “Forever Young,” the second encore song and it was a bit of a sad surprise when Dylan did not return to the stage (though I don’t think he often returns after the initial encore).
Security from my observation was pretty relaxed, I didn’t see anything resembling the Orwellian stories that came from the Beijing show. Dylan seemed pretty charged up to be there, drifting his vocals off into new tunes, not always on key but with a certain amount of charm. “Blind Willie McTell” was also a pretty powerful song.
Some critics have lamented that he didn’t play as many of his folk ballads from the 60’s like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin.’” These songs would have been recognized by more members of the audience, but I also enjoyed seeing Dylan work through his newer material, some of which I’d never seen him perform live before (having been in China for a number of years now).
It’s taken 50 years of performing for Dylan to make it to Shanghai but hopefully this won’t be the last time he makes it to these shores.
By Jeremy Breningstall
Sander Kleinenberg (born 1971) is a Dutch DJ and record producer. He founded and runs Little Mountain Recordings and THIS IS Recordings. Kleinenberg is well known for his use of digital video in concerts and for his "Everybody" and "THIS IS" brands of club nights and albums. His 2000 single "My Lexicon" is often considered a progressive house standard. Later on hits followed like "The Fruit" and "This Is Miami".
Friday night he is performing in Shanghai and we got the chance to have an interview with him.
CM: So first of all, what do you expect from the Chinese dance floor this Friday?
SK: Well, I’ve not been to China for a while and I’ve been waiting for a great gig to come by, so im very excited
CM:You are known for being a pioneer of DVjing, blending the arts of Vjing and Djing, do you feel that this has settled a new way of clubbing or that the audio still prevails?
SK: Audio is still the main ingredient of a good night out, but the visuals in my case give it that extra element, they are in-sync with the music and that creates a great, sometimes subconscious experience, I’m really proud of my leading role in this technique and the partnership that I have with Pioneer. It gives me something to be proud of, something I can call my own.
CM: Your last album 5K navigates between electro, rap, rock and even some dubstep tendencies, all blended together without gaps between the tracks. What was the journey that brought you to such an eclectic album?
SK: It was the result of 2 years of labour, where I really explored every corner of possibilities with electronic music. I was and am completely aware it might not be the most commercial thing to do, but it has given me a tremendous experience, and wealth of knowledge. It’s almost like this album was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
CM: What equipment do you use to perform
SK: I use a variation of tools, depending on the size of the room, but mostly Pioneer's SVM as a centre piece to what I do. It is the world’s first audio visual DJ mixer and as a matter of fact I helped develop it with the lovely people at Pioneer.
CM: Last question, you travelled all around the world to perform, what was the best place (club, festival.) you ever played at ? And the weirdest one?
SK: The weirdest one was at the foot of the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt… Very surreal... the best one is yet to come… Maybe this Friday?
CM: Ok, thank you for your time and we hope you'll have a blast this weekend !!
Dear Shanghai Music Fan,
For all those who have a bit cash hidden under their mattress here is your chance to help! If you have nothing left maybe you know a friend or so.
Artists and songwriters from across the EMI family have been supporting the Red Cross to raise funds for the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Over the next three weeks, incredible auction items from more than 150 of the world’s biggest stars will be available to bid on to help this important cause.
Artists supporting the appeal include: Coldplay, The Beatles, The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Corinne Bailey-Rae, Duffy, Keith Urban, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Beastie Boys, Michael Franti, Tiziano Ferro, Juan Luis Guerra, Herbert Gronemeyer, Raphael, Norah Jones, Katy Perry, Iron Maiden, Jane Birkin, Gorillaz, the Beach Boys, Depeche Mode, Good Charlotte, 30 Seconds To Mars, Jeff Bridges, Tinie Tempah, and Deadmau5, Kylie Minogue, The Kooks, David Guetta, Angela Gheorghiu, Lady Antebellum, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Arcade Fire.
Auction runs April 5 – 21, 2011
Some of the things you can bid on are:
The last of an extremly limited edition of a Schwinn bicycle featuring the Yellow Submarine artwork, never sold publiclyma
Ferrari 412 1987, the car featured in their film, Electroma
According to our prior post about Bob Dylan coming to Shanghai we got some good news:
He has apparently gotten clearance for his China tour because tickets are now being distributed by mypiao.com. He will play at Shanghai Grand Stage on April 8.
Tickets can be reserved online.
This might be your only chance to see him in China so hurry and get your tickets.
The guys from “Hotter than teppanyaki,The Dudettes, and sal & upnavala groove” are organizing a charity gig for the victims of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Originally they intended to have no cover charge but now entrance is 20rmb. They promise that all the money earned through entrance fee and the bar revenue will be donated to the victims in Japan.
So Shanghai Rocker, go to Lune on Friday the 19th and drink and dance for a good cause!
Event info here:
A couple weeks ago I was asked to do a mixtape for City Moments to help promote the upcoming Usher show on March 12th, 2011. This was the first time I have ever tried to do a mixtape for a single artist and I really didnt know how I wanted to go about doing it. Should I do it like most mixtapes out there with just 20 songs not really mixed together, or do it with quick mixing, live remixes, and lots of different types of Usher tracks from his classics to his hottest new joints mixed all together? Well after a week or so of work here it is ready for you to enjoy and start getting pumped about the OMG Tour.
Download it here: The Choyce Tracks
by Dj Choyce Kutz, member of The Council
by Eric de Fontenay, MusicDish*China
Deserts Xuan is a women of contradictions. I first saw her perform during MIDEM's Taiwan Nights showcase. By far the best act in the lineup, her folksy indie pop style and silky voice drew the attention of a usually fickle MIDEM audience. "I was surprised how very calm and attentive the audience was. It was really touching to feel and see them listening to Chinese songs in such a sincere manner."
But I had mentioned her being a 'woman of contradictions' with perhaps the best example being Taiwan's premiere indie singer/songwriter while being signed to major label Sony Music. Considered a pop singer in Taiwan, she repeatedly exclaims "Lang Lang sucks!" in the middle of Times Square (considers him the Kenny G of classical music). A sweet girlish exterior with the mouth of a sailor (or more properly NYer). Xuan reportedly dropped out of high school because she "couldn't stand the conservative restrictions". Suffice it to say, Deserts Xuan has lots to say and is not afraid to say it.
Considered one of the leading alternative musicians in the Chinese music industry, Deserts Xuan started her career as a member of the rock band Mango Runs, which won the Indie Music Award at the Taipei Ho-Hai-Yan Rock Festival in 2003 and was featured in the documentary Ocean Fever. She credits her true music education to Yu Jin Pong, owner of Witch House, a Taipei club (livehouse) that showcases independent bands playing alternative music. "Witch House was very important to my development. I look upon it and Yu Jin Pong as a mentor, teacher. It was actually where I was discovered by Sony BMG."
The problem in Taiwan, Deserts explains, is that the independent music community lacks the infrastructure we in the West take for granted. "The West has the advantage of having a long history of producers, mangers, labels, publishers... There is a level of maturity, expertise and professionalism that we simply lack in Taiwan and China." This lack of 'brain trust' to tap, combined with a lack of journalist and bloggers who understand the indie scene, have left independent artists without direction or support.
So somewhat controversially for her fans, when given the opportunity, Deserts signed with Sony BMG in 2006 for her debut album "My Life Will...".
"I wanted to learn how to promote and present myself to the public, and I thought that a major could help me understand." What makes Deserts particular is that she has not Xuaned her folk-pop style, or more importantly, songwriting despite the expected major label pressures. Take her second album "Oh, dear. dear. I haven't.", which unlike her debut made of songs written from ages of 13 and 19, has deeper and darker lyrics, reflecting "a passage to adult and womanhood" Deserts notes. It was a Xuane that was little appreciated at Sony.
In fact, the songs from her first 2 albums were all rejected by various labels and producers to whom they had been pitched. You see, Deserts is a songwriter who sings, as opposed to the typical songwriter. "I never really intended to sing. I care much more about my songwriting - that is my passion." That is a point I'm reminded of throughout our 3 hour talk. By the age of 19, Deserts had written over 100 songs and was actively pitching them. By the time she released her debut 6 years later, she was already well known in the livehouse scene and online.
"A lot of recording artists would ask me to write them a song, but they would always get rejected by the producer or music company. They'd tell me that the song was too deep for today's listeners and ask whether I could make it more like a love song." So she took the best of those rejects and released them on two major label releases, only to have them nominated for a combined Golden Melody Awards (Taiwan version of Grammys) as well as winning Best New Mandarin Artist at the 7th Chinese Music Media Awards... literally turning lemons into some oh so sweet lemonade!
She has since released her third album "A City" with a new band she created called Algae, and is presently working on her fourth album for Sony Music. So how has the experience with a major been?
"Being signed to major, my relationship with Sony is a partnership. I give Sony everything I have and take everything from Sony - the successes and support, but also the rules, pressures and frustrations. It was that experience - the good and the bad of working in this industry - that I was looking for and needed. It was a necessary and healthy experience."
What impressed me most about my time with Deserts was the maturity she has acquired over the years, verging on wisdom. For example, take her view on whether to sign with a major or go indie:
"If you know exactly what you want with your music and career, then you are truly independent, whether you are signed to a major or indie label. In either case, for it to succeed, it must be a partnership where both sides know exactly what each wants and the combination is a win-win."
Deserts is also vocal about her beliefs that the Taiwan government should take a more active role in supporting the country's budding indie talent:
"An opportunity like showcasing MIDEM should not just be for signed artists such as myself or 1976. The government needs to do their homework on the indie scene and identify those bands with the most potential, but that also reflects Taiwan's unique culture. We have so much talent and potential in our small country, but the Taiwanese people doubt that potential most. The government can help develop it, in part by bringing such bands to events like MIDEM where they can realize what's out there and what they are capable of."
In the current issue of Time Out, Patrick Maxwell has a tongue-in-cheek column about "party porn" (of which he calls City Moments the "Bible").
In "Help! I'm a party photo addict!" he writes, "The thing about Shanghai party photos, and part of their appeal, is the sheer unexclusivity of them. To appear in a party photo in London, you generally need one or all of the following: an appearance in a Hollywood film, you own gallery, a triple-barrelled-surname or an aristocratic title. I've never been within a three-mile radius of a London party photo, and you I've been papped four times in China. Despite not getting out much, and not being half as good-looking as Mr. Riviera, people are generally surprised at how low this number is. I know girls who are in party photos every month."
If you can't stop yourself, take a look at 'em.
Rumor has it that Bob Dylan will be playing several venues in China, including Shanghai, this April. Of course the same rumor came around this time last year so we'll see if it comes true this time. The rumor would conform to Dylan's published tour dates, which include a concert in Singapore on April 15. If Dylan plays in China, it will have been long overdue... the Bobster has been a regular guest in Japan and all over the world. Btw, most of his catalog can be downloaded for free in China at www.google.cn/music. His newer releases (Including the mono recordings) can be easily found on the streets, my wife just picked me up a mono highlight CD for 25 RMB.
Stay tuned for updates!
The guys from That's Shanghai wrote an article on us and here is what they had to say:
The successful party website shows how to make play pay
Citymoments.cn started like a sitcom: a group of students and 20-some-things forged a friendship over a shared address on Xinzha Lu and a love of Shanghai nightlife. Two of those friends, David Lazarowicz and Wei Phung, decided to parlay their passion into a website that would make work play and vice versa.
Today, City Moments dominates the expat party scene in Shanghai with aspirations of conquering Asia, recently opening an office in Beijing and planning to expand to at least two other cities by the end of next year. The Shanghai office runs out of a trendy space surrounded by design and music studios, a far cry from the company’s humble beginnings, but COO Teja Nosty insists that it’s still ruled by its founding spirit. “It’s still about friendship,” he says. “We’ve all become more serious, but we’re still friends.”
In the early days in 2009, City Moments made a name for itself by going out to clubs in a huge group with black T-shirts with the City Moments logo. “Everyone wanted one,” Partner and Shanghai GM Lee lam remembers. The T-shirt wore out quickly, but the impression stuck. “We were giving people a feeling of what City Moments was about and building this image of coolness. And we were marketing it as an atmosphere.”
People started logging onto City Moments for the pictures – the crew sent photographers to all the big nightlife events and uploaded them the next morning. Partygoers logged on to see what happened last night and stayed for the listings.
In June 2009, the group released a new website – City Moments 2.0. The improved version aimed to integrate social networking, with strong ties to Facebook. But three weeks later Facebook was blocked on the Chinese mainland, rendering many features of City Moments 2.0 unusable. This was a huge setback for the team, who’d spent months working on 2.0. In the aftermath, Teja and Lee stepped forward to play a bigger role in day-to-day operations. The needed to develop and launch the next version as soon as possible, which meant changing the way they worked.
“The first thing we said as, ‘OK, we must go into the office every morning,’” Teja recalls. In the beginning, the group had been doing most of its work from home, but Teja insisted they invest in office space and start showing up early. This meant cutting back on the partying and getting serious about work. Teja, David and Lee buckled down and launched City Moments 3.0 in July. 3.0, the version in use today, still features photos and extensive event listings, but it also has its own built-in social networking tool, which allows users to create profiles and ‘friend’ other members. As the website becomes more and more sophisticated, so do its owners, After 3.0 launched, Teja remembers being congratulated by a business associate.
“He said, ‘I remember I met you one weekend and you were all wearing those T-shirts,’” Teja says. “’One year later, you’re very professional .’”
Writing by Audrey Murray, Picture by Nicky Almasy