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Chinese tour fires band into big time.

Byline: BY KATE MANSEY Daily Post Staff

FOR many bands it remains uncharted territory.

But for a group of Liverpool musicians, breaking China has proved even easier than making a name for themselves at home.

The Wombats, an indie rock trio from Sir Paul McCartney's fame school, have made music history by being the first UK band to play China's biggest festival - a feat that even the former Beatle hasn't achieved.

After forming while students at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), The Wombats' reputation has grown much faster abroad than at home.

Last week they played in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the Midi Festival in Beijing, China's equivalent of Glastonbury

Hosted by the Beijing Midi School of Popular Music, the four-day festival boasts more than 100 acts who perform across five stages in the city's Haidian Park.

The Wombats, made up of Liverpudlian Matthew Murphy, Norwegian-born Tord Overland-Knudsen, and LIPA graduate Daniel Haggis, also from Liverpool, have earned widespread praise from top industry figures in recent months and performed at Canada's Music Week.

Mr Murphy, 21, from Woolton, Liverpool, said: "We were absolutely delighted to play this gig, it's definitely our biggest show to date.

"We're pleased to represent LIPA and it's a real honour to be the first UK band to perform at the festival.

"The Chinese public rarely have the chance to see a Western band perform live so we hope our set will give them something to remember us by."

The trio, who now have a website entirely in Chinese for their new fan base, used the festival as part of a tour including gigs in Shanghai and Beijing.

Darren Murphy, LIPA International Manager, said the Wombats made a big impression with the festival organisers when the selections were being made.

He said: "We had a meeting with Zhang, who was keen that the Chinese public would have the chance to see young, exciting bands from modern music schools.

"The Wombats certainly struck a chord with the organisers and we hope they'll be the first in a long-line of British-based acts to play the festival."

LIPA, which currently has three Chinese students enrolled, now hopes the good relationship between the institute and the festival will bring more international students to Liver pool.

Zhang Fan, festival organiser and President of the Beijing Midi School of Popular Music, said: mutual understanding.

"LIPA and the city of Liverpool have a worldwide reputation for producing talented musicians and we hope this visit will encourage future cultural exchange programmes between the UK and China in the fields of our music traditions."

kate.mansey@liverpool.com

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 11, 2006
Words:450
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