Return of the godfather

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-03 08:52

When Jiang Wen breezes into the room with bottles of water and boxes of chocolate under his arms, the cameras start clicking. Jiang, one of China's top filmmakers, is accompanied by his 14-year-old daughter.

The father and daughter are there to see another big name, Cui Jian, the godfather of Chinese rock music, who is rehearsing for his upcoming concert at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium, on Saturday.

"Do you like rock or hip-hop?" Cui asks Jiang's daughter. When she answers "rock", Cui says with a smile: "Here is a song for you, called Dream Under the Sunshine."

Sporting his famous red baseball cap, Cui unleashes his coarse, low yet powerful voice, with his band backing up.


Cui Jian in a performance. Song Xiaohui

Jiang, the director of In the Heat of the Sun, and Cui have been friends for more than a decade. Cui starred in Jiang's recent film The Sun Also Rises and Jiang has been a fan of Cui's music for years.

"I am happy his daughter likes rock," Cui, 46, says. "My daughter, who is studying abroad, likes my old songs as well."

In 1986, Cui debuted at the Workers' Gymnasium with a trailblazing rock show, creating an alternative genre for Chinese music fans. Two decades later, his comeback has generated huge interest.

"I can feel the pressure," Cui says. "Coming back to the stage after 20 years is special for me. Though I have never veered far from the rock stage of Beijing, playing solo is still challenging for me, especially with the pressure from the audience."

Cui says that he feels compelled to satisfy both old and young fans.

"Some of my old fans are the same age as me. They are expecting my new songs as well as my old songs. There are some young fans too."

Concert-goers can expect to see Cui lead his band through a set chronicling his legendary career. Still, the singer doesn't see it as a greatest hits concert.

"It's not my style to get nostalgic," he says.

Considered by many as China's Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, Cui still has the same determined, hard rocking sound, values and passion toward music as he did in his 20s.

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