Japanese promoters who mainly deal with foreign artists continue to reel from the nuclear side effects of the earthquake/tsunami of March 11.
While most of the tour cancellations that happened immediately following the disaster had to do with concerns over infrastructure, artists continue to postpone or otherwise completely cancel their Japan tours.
Although the only outright reasons given are the “effects” of the disaster, it seems clear that the artists are fearful of radiation levels, even if none was scheduled to perform anywhere near the stricken nuclear reactors in Fukushima.
According to Fuji TV news, as of April 1, 1,320 concerts featuring foreign artists were cancelled or postponed indefinitely.
In an interview on Fuji TV, Naoki Shimizu, president of Creativeman Productions, revealed that his company alone had to cancel 50 concerts in March and April, including two festivals, Punkspring and Springroove, featuring international artists.
Shimizu characterized the slightly shortened Ne-Yo tour that just ended as a “make or break” situation for the company, and revealed that the negotiations were quite heated. Apparently, Ne-Yo’s organization demanded that Creativeman provide a geiger counter to monitor radiation levels throughout the tour.
Many major promoters have set up special pages on their websites where foreign artists can send messages to their fans and the people of Japan in general. Almost all of the messages are expressions of condolence and solidarity, though it seems clear from reactions on Twitter and other social networking sites that what people truly appreciate is those artists who actually come to Japan to perform.
Those who do, such as former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson and the acid jazz group Incognito, both regular visitors to Japan, have undoubtedly boosted their profile even more just by showing up.
French singer-actress Jane Birkin, another Japanese favorite who usually plays large auditoriums when she comes to Japan, quickly scheduled a small club date in Tokyo on April 6 in order to simply be with her fans. She wasn’t even scheduled to be in Japan this month.
But these are exceptions. Beady Eye, the new group fronted by Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, postponed its sold-out May shows to September, even after the group played a very successful fundraiser for Japan relief on April 3 in London and Gallagher himself uncharacteristically allowed himself to choke up on TV watching footage of the disaster area.
Though no one blames Beady Eye and other artists for playing it safe, there is increasing resistance to calls for “self-restraint” that often accompany major disasters in Japan.
Not only promoters, but other small businesses such as restaurants, bars and clubs have been suffering ever since politicians and other persons in positions of authority started making comments to the effect that any expression of enjoyment would be bad form considering the suffering going on up north.
The general sentiment, however, seems to be totally the opposite.
People want to return to their normal lives and help boost the economy to get things working again.
Any foreign artist who demonstrates solidarity in that regard by fulfilling his or her pledge to play a scheduled gig is thus appreciated all the more.