By Manta Klangboonkrong
Fans of American country singer Taylor Swift started to get antsy 10 days ago when martial law was declared. By the time the military seized absolute power and imposed a curfew two days later, they were seriously worried.
“Please end this unrest soon so we can see Taylor Swift!” read several Facebook posts but to no avail. With tanks and soldiers on the streets, Swift looked likely to be a goner. Sure enough, just five days into the curfew, concert organiser BEC Tero Entertainment sent out a Dear John letter that caused heartbreak to thousands of Thai fans.
“This has been a difficult decision for all parties. Taylor, AEG, BEC Tero and 13 Management all express regret and sincere apologies to the fans in Thailand,” read the official statement.
Minutes after the news broke, fans took to Facebook and Twitter to express their disappointment. Some said they had invested thousands of Baht in lavish custommade welcome signs for the singer, while others, mostly those who had purchased tickets at inflated prices after the show had sold out, lamented their losses, realising that the high markups wouldn’t be part of the full refund policy.
The 24-year-old singer was quick to make the most of a free night and immediately added one more show at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 9. Thai fans, it seems, might have to catch their favourite singer in the citystate though they would do well to hurry: tickets are said to be selling out first.
But Swift is far from the only casualty of what is euphemistically referred to as “the current situation in Thailand”. Indeed, the first five months of 2014 have been hard for music junkies and while figures are not being made available, even tougher on the promoters who presumably have lost a packet.
In January, not long after the Bangkok Shutdown was declared. American music legend Frankie Valli and his boys the Four Seasons were forced to call off their longoverdue Bangkok debut at Bangkok Convention Centre, Central Lat Phrao, a venue all too close to one of the antigovernment rally sites.
A week later, “Don’t Kick the Chair” singer Dia Frampton said she wouldn’t be coming to Bangkok’s Hard Rock Cafe. The official statement said the gig was “postponed to a later date”, but there have been no hints of her return nor are they likely to be given “the present situation”.
Guitar God Eric Clapton’s cancelled gig on March 2 would have been his fourth in Thailand where he previously played to soldout crowds, The scheduled Bangkok gig was coming midway through his Asia tour, which began in Japan in February.
The Bangkok gig would probably have been his last, too, as he recently announced that he would stop touring in two years when he reached 70.
“I won’t stop playing or doing oneoffs, but I’ll stop touring, I think,” he told the British press in March, as soon as the Asian tour was over.
“For me, the struggle is the travel. If I could do that around my neighbourhood that would be great.” He even bid farewell to Japan, where he had first played in Asia 40 years ago.
And it’s not only the big stars who are withdrawing.
South Korean actor/singer Choi Jin Hyuk who was scheduled to meet with his Thai fans last Saturday at Thammasat University’s Main Auditorium called off the event though the organiser has promised to find another date once the situation is resolved.
However, 2014 has not been all bad news. Canadian rock chic Avril Lavigne honoured her commitment to perform for the second time in Bangkok on February 11 and American singer Bruno Mars saw no reason either to cancel his soldout debut show on March 20 as part of his Moonshine Jungle Tour.
To be fair, politics aren’t always to blame. Remember the big floods in 2011? The worsening situation in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces prompted music veteran David Foster to cancel his second concert in Thailand, and Jason Mraz to call off his acoustic show in Mountain Stage at Bonanza, Khao Yai.
Fans of Japanese rockers X Japan did rather better. Despite a risk of wet feet, the band performed for the first time in Thailand at Impact Arena on November 8. The gig was sold out and many fans queued up all night to get tickets. The glam rock group had previously planned to grace Bangkok in 2009 but was forced to cancel due to the Suvarnabhumi Airport seizure.
And we still have a few shows to look forward too. On June 10, X Japan’s drummer Yoshiki Hayashi is bringing his classical alter ego to Bangkok for the “Yoshiki Classical Live in Bangkok” at Royal Jubilee Ballroom, Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani. On June 28, sassy and colourful Jpop icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is confirmed to perform for the second time in Bangkok at BCC Hall Central Plaza Lat Phrao.
Thai pop diva Nantida Kaewbuasai’s “The Show Must Go On” concert is all confirmed to go on with the new date on July 12, at Royal Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon.
At the same venue on August 2 and 3, luk thung fans of Got Jakkapan will get to celebrate the glamorous singer’s 20 longs years in music with two special concerts featuring more than 40 dancers and, of course, fireworks and lots of hits.
Australian soft rock duo Air Supply is making a comeback with The Greatest Hit Concert on August 5 at Impact Arena Hall 3, Muang Thong Thani.
And there’s even better news; British pop boy band One Direction has just included Bangkok in their “On the Road Again” 2015 Tour. Their debut show is scheduled to take place at Rajamangala Stadium in Huamark on March 14, next year – political situation permitting, of course.