Awaiting Gaga, Asia sees more live music than ever
FILE - In this June 25, 2011 file photo, U.S. singer Lady Gaga performs during the MTV Video Music AID Japan in Chiba, near Tokyo. When Lady Gaga launches her hotly anticipated "Born This Way" world tour Friday, April 27, 2012 on what is expected to be an elaborate castle-like stage, fans in Asia will be the first to see it. The singer leads off her travels with sold-out shows from South Korea to Singapore in a striking upgrade of her Asia itinerary over a previous tour that included only Japan. Western pop stars are increasingly criss-crossing the upwardly mobile region in search of new markets while financial malaise continues to afflict parts of the West - and Asian fans are ecstatic. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — When Lady Gaga launches her hotly anticipated "Born This Way Ball" world tour Friday on what is expected to be an elaborate castle-like stage, fans in Asia will be the first to see it.
The singer leads off her travels with sold-out shows from South Korea to Singapore in a striking upgrade of her Asia itinerary over a previous tour that included only Japan. Western pop stars are increasingly criss-crossing the upwardly mobile region in search of new markets while financial malaise continues to afflict parts of the West — and Asian fans are ecstatic.
"We're getting so many concerts nowadays, it's hard to decide which ones to go for!" said Mindy Chew, an information technology consultant in Malaysia who snapped up $120 seats to watch Lady Gaga's show in neighboring Singapore within 30 minutes after tickets went on sale.
"Some of these shows are like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm expecting lots of drama at Lady Gaga's show, lots of costume changes," said Chew, who has caught performances by Gwen Stefani and Michael Buble in recent years in Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur.
The long list of acts who've penned Asia into their tour plans this year include chart-toppers like Katy Perry, LMFAO, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Jason Mraz, Avril Lavigne and Foster The People.
Next to Lady Gaga, rock band Radiohead has amassed the most buzz for its planned shows in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea this July.
But fans also are looking forward to artists as varied as Elton John, Morrissey, Christina Perri, Lifehouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Avenged Sevenfold, Backstreet Boys, The Flaming Lips and Manic Street Preachers.
For unbeatable star power, this August's two-day Summer Sonic Festival in Japan alone is supposed to feature Rihanna, Green Day, Ke$ha, Adam Lambert, Pitbull, Calvin Harris and Gym Class Heroes.
Japan has long been a hub for gigs by Western headliners, but touring activity has been building up in the rest of Asia over the past two years, Alan Ridgeway, president of international markets for Live Nation, the worldwide promoter for Lady Gaga's shows, told The Associated Press.
The reasons boil down to supply and demand. Asia makes economic sense now because rising disposable income among fans here has driven up demand for live entertainment across the region, Ridgeway said.
"Even though Japan may be able to support three or four shows, this often wasn't enough to justify the expense of bringing a tour to Asia," Ridgeway said. "Now as we see increasing demand from other markets such as South Korea, China and Indonesia, it becomes possible to route a financially viable multi-date tour through the region."
Last year was Live Nation's most successful in China since it began operating there in 2005, with more than 70 shows by regional and Western artists within a 12-month span, Ridgeway said.
Persistent economic troubles in the West have also propped up Asia's importance. Ridgeway said the touring business in Europe remains healthy, but other promoters believe there's been enough of a downturn there to trigger concerns.