James played an unusual gig this weekend because they’re big in Beijing. China’s still a relatively isolated country with credible western bands playing there on rare occasions, but this weekend saw an attempt to change that.
Bands from all over the world arrived to play in the Chinese capital. Tim Booth took the opportunity on stage to criticise the country’s human rights record, saying: “This is a song about tortured artists which may have a different meaning over here.”
Backstage, he said: “This is the way to break down barriers, I think. More than making big bold stands. We could be a young rock’n’roll band and get ourselves arrested, but it wouldn’t really help anybody, would it?”
He explained: “Basically, what you come and do is start, hopefully, a process of communication to start and change things. This is why we do this, to reach people.”