Thursday, March 5, 2009

Super Band Tour Begins on Saturday

Super Band performing live (photo courtesy of Hunan TV)

A Taiwanese super group, comprised of four of Taiwan's biggest rock and pop legends, begin their tour of greater China, starting with Taipei on Saturday. The super group calls itself Super Band, an English name I'd prefer to credit to deadpan humour rather than a lack of imagination. (Actually the Chinese name, 纵贯线 Zong Guan Xian is the name of the main railway line in Taiwan). Super Band is made up of four veterans of the Taiwan music scene - Luo Dayou, Zhou Huajian, Jonathan Lee and the relatively younger Zhang Zhenyue (who's still been around for 15 years). In April they will commence their mainland tour with concerts in Beijing, Hangzhou, Xi'an, Chongqing and Chengdu.

The band's formation was announced back in the middle of last year, and they released a single, Desperado (亡命之途) in August. Last month they appeared on CCTV's New Year Gala show, the most watched show of the year on Chinese TV. The group has said Super Band is just a one-off project that will probably disband later this year.

Luo Dayou (罗大佑) is one of China's foremost singer-songwriters. Born in Taipei, his career began in the early 1980s, and his early records, sung in a kind of student folk style, were striking for their critical social and political commentary. He's also known for his melodic love songs, and is sometimes referred to as the Godfather of Mandopop. Now in his fifties, his recording output has slowed down in recent years, but he can still sell-out concerts to an increasingly middle-aged audience who grew up with his music.

Zhou Huajian (周华健 and he also has the English name Wakin Chau) was born in Hong Kong but moved to Taiwan in his teens. He began as a pop songwriter before getting an opportunity to record his first album in 1985 when he was 25. He's since released over 40 albums, mostly in Mandarin, but also in Cantonese and English. Known for his smooth, middle-of-the-road style he was awarded Taiwan's Golden Melody Award for Best Male Singer in 1993.

Jonathan Lee (李宗盛 Li Zongsheng) is another singer-songwriting legend in Taiwan music circles, as well as a very successful music producer. Several of his songs - including Song of the Ordinary People, Understanding, and When Love Passes By - are regarded as Mandopop classics. He's also another one to get the nickname "Godfather of Pop".

Zhang Zheyue (张震岳) is also known as A-Yue, and has experimented with different styles in his career, from rock to folk, to dance and hip hop. He has also featured Taiwan aboriginal music in his work. Zhang released his first album in 1993 when he was twenty years old. His first albums were pop-rock, but 2001 marked a change in style with "Orange", a dance album. He has maintained his popularity and critical acclaim through the years, and last year won Best Male Singer (Taiwan and Hong Kong) at China's Music Chart Awards, as well as Best Producer and Best Song Arrangement. He'll take on the drumming duties with the band.

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