BEST OF 2015: Tim Livingston’s Coolest Rock Event / Album That You Probably Never Heard About
By Tim Livingston
In 2014, original UK punk/pop pioneers the Boys released the album, Punk Rock Menopause, that found its way to the very top of my year-end best-of list. In 2015, they did extensive touring behind the album, including planning a much-anticipated tour of China, but things did not work out quite that way.
What happened is that the Boys arrived in Shanghai in January to embark on a nine-date national tour to promote the new album, however, they soon discovered that the tour had been cancelled by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. The official reason given was “crowd control and security issues” in wake of the Shanghai stampede at a riverside New Year celebration a few weeks earlier, in which 36 people were killed and 49 injured. The Ministry of Culture informed all the venues on the tour that if the Boys performed they would be shut down. The Ministry also said that no other venues were allowed to host the band.
Even though they knew they were being followed, they decided to make some things happen in China. With the help of their friends over there, the band played three secret underground gigs promoted entirely by word of mouth and carefully avoiding government-monitored Chinese chat rooms. All three gigs were literally underground – in former bomb shelters and basements. One of the gigs was a rehearsal complex with a recording studio attached and a live performance was recorded there. None of this was talked about “above ground” until after the band left the country, but from that recording they released the album Undercover: Live In China on Action Records featuring 13 of their best known songs. A true underground record!