Elton John dedicates show to Chinese artist Ai

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02:14 PM November 26th, 2012

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November 26th, 2012 02:14 PM

British singer Elton John performs in Shanghai on November 23, 2012. AFP / PETER PARKS

BEIJING – Pop icon Elton John publicly dedicated his only concert in Beijing to Chinese artist and political critic Ai Weiwei, sending a murmur of shock through audience members accustomed to tight censorship of Western pop shows.

Minutes into a more than two-hour show Sunday night, John told the audience that the performance was dedicated to Ai’s spirit and talent. Several audience members say the crowd rumbled in recognition of how Ai remains a touchy subject for the Chinese government.

Online media sites were reporting on John’s two-performance tour in China, but not the remark.

The Chinese government further tightened already heavy scrutiny of live performances after singer Bjork shouted “Tibet, Tibet” at the close of a song titled “Declare Independence” at a Shanghai performance in 2008.

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