Asian News 10/25

Time For Music At Nagai Stadium

Nagai Stadium in Osaka has decided to go into the concert business.

The sports venue, which has a capacity of 50,000, was used for the 2007 International Association of Athletics Federations meet that took place several weeks ago, and is the home ground for the J-League professional soccer team Cerezo Osaka.

However, in late September the stadium put on its first rock concert, featuring the J-Pop band Mr. Children. It attracted 80,000 people over two nights.

With those two concerts, the stadium made the equivalent of 84 percent of all its revenues for 2006 and 65 percent of all its revenues for 2005.

One of the reasons the stadium, which opened in 1995, never held concerts before is that it is located in a residential neighborhood. But stadium management has seen what kind of money it can make and is planning more concerts with major Japanese acts.

"We’re thinking of Southern All-Stars," a representative told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, "or Dreams Come True."

Speaking of Dreams Come True, that J-Pop duo’s lead singer, Miwa Yoshida, lost her common-law husband to a brain tumor September 26.

Ken Sueda, who directed many of the group’s music videos, married Yoshida in 2004, though they never officially registered their union. He was 33 years old. DCT’s most recent concert tour ended three days before Sueda’s death.


Big Reunions Head East

Two big rock reunions of the year will be arriving in Japan early next year practically on top of each other.

Rage Against the Machine will play the Osaka Castle Hall February 7 and the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, February 9-10.

That same week, The Police will come to the archipelago for their first tour since 1981 (a planned 1983 tour was canceled).

Sting and company will perform at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka on February 10 and at Tokyo Dome February 13. The opening act will be Fiction Plane, which contains Sting’s son, Joe Sumner.


Pipettes Hit Japan

Britain’s belated answer to early ‘60s girl groups, The Pipettes, have been taking Japan by storm ever since last summer when they appeared at the Summer Sonic festivals in Osaka and Tokyo.

The vocal trio’s debut album, We Are The Pipettes, which came out in England more than a year ago, was released in Japan by Universal International on October 17.

The group came to Japan for promotion and played before 500 selected fans at a free mini-concert on the roof of the Tower Records store in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo.

The main reason for the group’s sudden success, beyond their cute fashion sense, is that their song "Because It’s Not Love" is being used as the theme for a very popular drama series that started earlier in October. It’s about a romance between a middle-aged man and a 20-year-old woman.

The Pipettes will return to Japan for a club tour in December as well as a slot on the British Anthems mini-festival in Tokyo on December 9.


Got High At Everest

What has been billed "the world’s highest concert" took place on the slopes of Mount Everest October 21.

The U.S.-based Love Hope Strength Foundation, a cancer awareness group, said on its Web site that the Everest Rocks concert, featuring Mike Peters of Britain’s The Alarm, Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats, Cy Curnin and Jamie West of The Fixx, Glen Tillbrook of Squeeze, and Nick Harper, performed at 5,650 meters above sea level.

The foundation has said it would try to register the performance with Guinness World Records.


X Japan One-Off

X Japan, the country’s most influential "visual" goth-metal band, which broke up in 1997, has reunited for a one-off project.

The band’s vocalist, Yoshiki, recently lent his songwriting talents to the theme song of the U.S.-France horror film "Catacombs." At the premiere in Tokyo September 20 he said that the rest of his former group would be joining him to do an English- language song for the newest installment of the popular "Saw" horror movie series.

The group’s guitarist Hide committed suicide in 1998 in what some believe was a copy-cat gesture toward his hero, Kurt Cobain.

While the other members of X Japan will play live on the track, Hide will be represented by samples of his guitar playing.


Former J-Pop Teen Steals Metal

As metal prices throughout Asia increase, Japan has been plagued by a bizarre epidemic of thefts of everything from public light fixtures to manhole covers. Much of this material is believed to end up in China, where metal has become precious.

Yuki Goto, 21, half of the now-defunct J-pop teen duo EE JUMP, was arrested October 20 for stealing about 1 million yen’s worth (US$8,500) of copper wire from a construction site in Tokyo on July 15.

Goto, the brother of Maki Goto, another popular singer who was formerly with the all-female group Morning Musume (Morning Daughters), quit show business in 2002 after a series of scandals.

Police say he was working with two teenage boys who were also arrested. They suspect he was involved in similar thefts and plan to question him about where he sold the wire.


‘Kohaku Utagassen’ Speculation

Show business journalists are speculating that Eikichi Yazawa, one of Japan’s most enduring rock singers, will finally be invited to perform this December on Japan’s most prestigious pop music event of the year.

The 58-year-old singer has never appeared on public broadcaster NHK’s New Year’s Eve song special "Kohaku Utagassen" (Red-White Song Contest). But this year’s version is being produced by Takashi Samizo, who also produces NHK’s successful Wednesday night music program "Songs."

Samizo has a strong working relationship with Yazawa and 51-year-old Motoharu Sano, another veteran rocker who has never appeared on "Kohaku." Reports have said that this year’s "Kohaku" will feature a segment centered on musicians who have appeared on "Songs" that would likely include Yazawa and Sano.

Yazawa may have been considered too rough for NHK’s tastes in the past, but the New Year’s show has been losing ratings steadily for the past decade and Yazawa has a strong baby boomer fan base.