Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bryan Adams Can't Save Nepal

So there is a Bryan Adams concert in Nepal tonight. One would think that a concert by a man whose last song you can recall on the radio happened back when you were in middle school wouldn't be that big a deal. This case might gain further relevance when you consider that the song in question wasn't even that good and was attached to a very bad film featuring a very bad Kevin Costner playing Robin Hood. But I suppose if you happen to be a Bryan Adams fan it's your lucky day if you're in Nepal- good for you.

The problem is that the way this concert is being billed you'd think Kurt Cobain rose from the grave and Nirvana was having a reunion concert in Nepal. He's being touted as a legend of rock as if the Rolling Stones or someone with- you know immense talent that didn't sing cheesy soft rock love songs that people stopped listening to almost twenty years ago. This event has been watched with more enthusiasm and worry for national pride than the writing of the national constitution (I only wish this were hyperbole). People have deemed the day of his arrival D-Day, and the Nepali press has followed every development closely.

Newscaster: "This isn't the first bad thing to come out of Canada. Let us not forget about Bryan Adams!"
Canadian PM: "Now, now, the Canadian government has apologized for Bryan Adams on several occasions!"
-South Park

As the above quote indicates, to some extent, Bryan Adams was a bit of a joke back home even when the South Park movie came out back in 1999. That was 12 years ago. I'm not really writing this to rip on Bryan Adams, again if you like him or even just want to have fun at a concert than have at it. What is sad is listening to people in the press who equate this concert to economic growth or increased tourism. Look your country isn't going to head out of the gutter because Bryan Adams plays a concert there. Hell it doesn't improve even if someone who really was in demand played in Nepal, economic development isn't stimulated through music concerts.

The sadder comment I've heard is that this concert is the unofficial highlight to Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Look, to be honest, if Bryan Adams was playing at the next town over in most of the west, very few people would bother to drive over to see him, thus it seems a little crazy to suspect that people would come to Kathmandu in order to see him. It would be embarrassing for most people, even if it was true due to a questionable taste in music, to admit out loud that they traveled all the way to Nepal to see Bryan Adams. In short this is not an event for tourists, or one that will increase tourism. If people in Nepal love this guy and are excited to see him, then that's great, but it is also the limit of the impact. 

On another level I get it that Nepal wants to show that it can host an internationally known artist, can provide a venue where he can preform, and provide a high level experience without messing everything up. Yes even in the land of load shedding no electricity we can still hold a major concert event. Logistics, not being south Asia's strong point, has been a nightmare for India as of recent- see the Cricket World Cup or the even more botched Commonwealth Games. Everyone knows its difficult as hell to organize and do anything here, so props to Nepal for pulling this together, I do understand the difficulty. That said, nobody from outside of Asia that doesn't understand the inherent difficulties of doing anything here is going to be impressed. Putting on a concert for a "star" like Bryan Adams is something that even small towns or sea side parks do on a regular basis back home. 

In the end Bryan Adams won't save Nepal- and he sure as hell won't boost Nepal Tourism Year. The amount of national pride and interest that was focussed on this would be better focussed on other national endeavors. Maybe completing hydro power dams so that Kathmandu isn't the only capitol city on the planet that is regularly without power for half the day, or completing a constitution and creating an actual representative government. But maybe that's just me.


  1. its not about saving nepal or stuffs like that....he is not a politician..he is just a singer...and we were excited just to listen to may not think this as something big...for us this was a big it was a first time that an international singer was going to perform here...and that too bryan adams...of course he is a big star...we all love him and his songs....and the way he performed yesterday...the love and respect for him has grown more...

  2. Anonymous-
    That's cool. That's why I mentioned that if you like Bryan Adams and were excited about the concert than it was your lucky day. My focus was more on dispelling the idea that this concert was good for the Nepali economy or tourism two cases that are hard to take seriously.

  3. Items long-ago discarded by others seem new again in Nepal: Clothing...political theories...Bryan Adams...

  4. whoever are you len,you can't say that about one's country...what do you think of yourself?
    its true that our country is not fully developed..but you cannot say so low about us...
    and you thinking of bryan adams as a discarded item suggests your mentality...

  5. and mr.brian..i too agree with you on this aspect...

  6. The quote regarding the gig as the unofficial highlight of YoT 2011 can be found here.

    I was checking in for my flight out of KTM when BA was also leaving - through the VIP exit; I've never seen Buddhist monks run as fast as the handful trying to cop a passing look at Mr. Adams as he left.


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