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July 22, 2011

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Cranberries coming to town

SHANGHAI audiences have recently heard the Eagles, Bob Dylan - both old timers past their prime - and Avril Lavigne, and there's more Western music to come.

The Cranberries, the innovative Irish rock band popular in the 1990s, will stage a concert on Tuesday at the Shanghai Grand Stage.

The Suede, an English alternative rock band founded in 1989, will perform on August 9 at the same venue. Contemporary English singer-songwriter James Blunt will give a concert on August 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Culture Center in Pudong.

It's a big year for Western pop music fans but many are disappointed that they have had to wait so long to hear their favorites, some of them 10 to even 20 years past their peak of popularity.

"We didn't deliberately pick old singers or bands for the Chinese market, it just happened that more Western musicians and performance companies realize the importance of Chinese market while planning their global tours," says Sheila Zhou of Beijing Gehua Live Nation Entertainment and Sports Co.

The company has brought Kylie Minogue, Michael Bolton, The Eagles and Bob Dylan to China.

Most of the musicians they invited here are signed with Live Nation, an international live events company cofounded by Beijing Gehua Entertainment and Sports Co.

The artists undertook international tours every few years, but the Chinese mainland wasn't on the list until recently; instead they made their Asia stops in Hong Kong or Japan, says Zhou, from the marketing department. Now the mainland is prominent on their radar.

"Some popular new stars have also considered the Chinese mainland, but uncertainty and lack of confidence in the domestic market made them postpone their plans," she says.

New stars will be coming but the news can't be released until the concerts receive official approval.

Though most of the "classic" Western pop stars reached their peak when most Chinese fans had little access to Western music, their arrival still generates enthusiasm. That includes The Cranberries.

Founded in 1989 by brothers Mike and Noel Hogan, "the Irish national treasure" was a hit with their debut album, "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?" which sold more than 5 million copies in the United States alone.

After a six-year hiatus while members pursued individual careers, the popular band reunited and got back on the road in 2009 with new albums and international tours.

Their Shanghai show will feature favorites such as "Dreams," "Zombie," "Linger" and "Ode to My Family," as well as tracks from their sixth and latest album "Roses," to be released this fall.

"The new album is close to the first two albums," says Noel Hogan, guitarist and cofounder, in an e-mail interview. "We still vary the songs and bring the most important things into the songs. We try to bring in new elements based on new stuff we experienced."

Faye Wong, "queen of Chinese pop music" from Hong Kong, made The Cranberries popular in China with her cover of "Dreams," in which she introduced the special singing style of lead female vocalist Dolores O'Riordan.

"We listened to Wong's version of 'Dreams' and it's so good - she's not just imitating but singing out the soul of the song," says O'Riordan.

Freddy Liang, a 37-year-old creative director in Shanghai, is a fan of both Wong and The Cranberries. He first heard the band from radio broadcasts around 20 years ago when there were no mainland concerts. He didn't know the band but was impressed by the beautiful voice. Only when he started following Faye Wang in the 1990s did he learn about the band. That's when he started buying old CDs.

"I have waited 11 years for their new album and the concert in Shanghai is a surprise and a gift," says Liang. He booked tickets for himself and his wife.

Since all the band members have got married and had children in recent years, The Cranberries and their music has changed.

"The change is about getting more mature," says Noel Hogan, "Whether you have kids or not, that's what happens generally with each of us. The changes made us realize there's more outside the band than we probably would have thought."

Date: July 26, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Stage, 1111 Caoxi Rd N.

Tickets: 180-1,280 yuan

Tel: 962-388


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