The bassist for Blur has said that the British indie band was unable to end their current live tour in Hong Kong this year, as the authorities denied them entry.

Update: Immigration Dep’t says Blur never applied for visa, after bandmate claims UK band were denied entry

blur 2015
Blur in Hong Kong in 2015. Photo: HKFP.

During a Monday BBC Radio 6 show, bassist Alex James said that the band had hoped to finish their live tour in Hong Kong: “[W]e were gonna finish it off in Hong Kong, which we thought would be brilliant because ‘The Magic Whip’ – the album prior to ‘Ballad of Darren’ – was all recorded in Hong Kong… but then, apparently, the Chinese government consider us to be bad actors, so we’re not allowed back in Hong Kong sadly.”

However, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department told HKFP on Tuesday that the band never applied for a visa: “The Immigration Department has not received the relevant visa application. The spread of misleading information is unacceptable and has to be condemned”

Blur's Alex James
Blur’s Alex James. Photo: HelDavies via Flickr CC2.0.

See also: Why do int’l music acts appear to be shunning Hong Kong?

It comes as the government seeks to attract talent, relaunch the city after the Covid-19 pandemic, and roll out the “Happy Hong Kong” and a “Night Vibes” campaign to boost the flailing economy.

Among the international acts that have embarked on Asian tours recently, whilst appearing to skip Hong Kong, are Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Harry Styles and Lewis Capaldi.

The last gig of 2023 listed on Blur’s website is on November 26 in Argentina. The band were last in Hong Kong in 2015.

Correction 6:50pm, 7/11/23: An early version of this article used an incorrect picture of Alex James with an erroneous mention of a visa – we regret the error.

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Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.