George Michael Released + Wham! in China

[October 12, 2010] George Michael has been released from prison after serving half of an eight-week sentence for crashing his car while under the influence of cannabis. [via Guardian]

To mark this day, here’s Lindsay Anderson’s “Foreign Skies” documentary of Wham!’s 1985 China tour. Wham! was the first western band to tour China, consummating the 10-day tour with a show, attended by 10,000 screaming fans at the Workers’ Gymnasium in Beijing.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley elicit an interesting comparison with Alexei Perry and Dan Boeckner in the 2009 documentary of the Handsome Furs ‘Indie Asia’ (China) tour. Both docos cover visits to the well-known Beijing landmarks and capture intimate moments with the band. Some of the more typical (aesthetic) representations of China seemingly unchanged in 25 years. “Foreign Skies” has a killer soundtrack, fading between classical Chinese Zheng players and the beauty-queen smile of Wham! pop.

Foreign Skies (Part 1):

Hang-out for the amazing Kung Fu/Tai Chi/exercise dance sequence set to Wham! soundtrack at 6min 43sec.

Foreign Skies (Part 2):

Andrew Ridgeley addresses a crowd of Chinese VIPs and government officials, “George and I both feel the nature of our performance is in many ways similar to chinese theatre.” Must ask George about that one, if ever interview him.

At 4min 45sec one British expat comments that there’s “no Chinese equivalent of Wham!” That said, comments from local punters, camping-out for the Wham! gig, show that western pop music was already widely appreciated in China. That, or the honeymoon of privileged British expats had influenced more than just their posh accents.

Here’s an earlier post about the film from Ed Peto.