After tour organizer Live Nation on Thursday canceled Maroon 5’s September show in Shanghai, fans speculated that it may have had something to do with one of the members who recently attended a birthday celebration for the Dalai Lama.
Jesse Carmichael, one of the band members, attended a star-studded event on July 4 — Independence Day in the United States — near Los Angeles to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.
In a Twitter post from that evening, the musician sounded excited: “Happy Birthday America (and The Dalai Lama too) sang happy birthday to his holiness today with a…” followed by a link to Instagram, the photo-sharing site.
Both the tweet and the photo have been deleted, but a cached version of his post is still available online.
The show was scrapped “for a reason,” said Live Nation in a vaguely worded statement, before apologizing to the public and promising ticket buyers a quick refund.
If the cancelation was indeed related to Carmichael’s recent tweet, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Fellow American band Linkin Park was banned from China for six years after the members were photographed getting chummy with the Dalai Lama at a conference in Los Angeles, and they’re just now making a return to the country with concerts in Beijing and Shanghai next week (although there is mild concern that these shows, too, will be canceled —but because of low ticket sales).
The quirky-and-she-knows-it Icelandic singer Bjork famously ended her song “Declare Independence” by shouting “Tibet! Tibet!” at a 2008 show in Shanghai, earning her the boot.
Singers have previously been barred from performing in the country for their overly salacious acts, but if even Mick Jagger can gyrate his saggy old man hips in front of thousands of Chinese fans, censors would surely have no problem with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine getting on stage to sing about pay phones and maps (the first two songs that come up when Googling “Maroon 5″), would they?
Fans are going with the former reason, and while many web users took to Weibo to complain about the canceled tour dates, others seemed pretty supportive.
One netizen wrote: “When it comes to matters of a country’s dignity and territorial claims, there can be no compromise. Musicians should stick to music and do their thing. Why bother with politics?”
“It’s okay to have political opinions, but it’s not okay to be illogical. Does he (Jesse Carmichael) have any idea what Dalai Lama has done in Tibet?” another asked.
“Country before idol,” a netizen chimed.
“Such a shame. I really liked their song ‘Sugar’.”
“I believe Jesse (Carmichael) did not mean any malice. I also understand the government’s attitude. The fans are the ones who suffer,” microblog user Qi Chu wrote.
One netizen asked: “Does attending a friend’s birthday party equal agreeing with his political views?”