Ease of restrictions against Chinese mainland ‘rock-father’ Cui Jian
Cui Jian’s September concert in Beijing marks the end of a decade of censorship against his angry rap-inflected rock. The Chinese government shows an increased awareness of the commercial value of modern music
The 44-year-old singer and guitarist often referred to as “China’s Bob Dylan” or “China’s godfather of electric rock”, Cui Jian, regularly jams in Beijing bars. But he had not played any major venue in his hometown since 1993.
Problems with communist authorities who refused permission for concerts and censored lyrics have constrained his popularity in recent years – along with the changing tastes of young Chinese who increasingly favor light pop over Cui Jian’s hybrid rock sound.
On 24 September, 2005, he once again assaulted Beijing with his loud and angry wall of sound in his first officially sanctioned concert in the capital in 12 years. Some 10,000 fans gathered for a concert entitled “A Dream in the Sunshine” in the Capital Gymnasium to hear the star perform the latest versions of his songs, many of which have been banned by a government wary of Cui Jian’s social and political criticisms.
Cui won fame in the late 1980s with songs such as “Nothing to my Name,” voicing the hopes and anxieties of a generation of Chinese entering adulthood after the death of Mao Zedong and the end of orthodox communism. Many consider this song as heralding the birth of rock music in China.
“It was 12 years ago that I last performed here just after the release of the Balls Under the Red Flag album,” the Beijing-born, classically trained musician told the crowd.
“If we have to keep on waiting then maybe they will let us come back and play here again in another 12 years.”