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Friday, March 6, 2009
By ALEX HOBAN
The cultural difference between Britain and Japan may be even greater than the 9,000 km separating them on a map, but that's no disputing the ties between the countries when it comes to their shared love of music.
As evidence of this there's the British Anthems minifestival series, originally conceived as a platform to introduce new British artists to a Japanese audience. Now, with each new incarnation of the event, it sells itself more and more as a vehicle of international diplomacy, with all kinds of A&R folk, tour promoters and other industry types attending in the hope of sowing the seeds of glittering future careers by strengthening ties with overseas artists and their representatives.
Now in its seventh volume, the city showcase is to be headlined by Scottish meat-and-potato rockers The Fratellis, with appearances from avant-garde noiseniks Youth Movies and electro-pop duo Robots in Disguise. For the first time, a second stage is dedicated purely to homegrown rock bands who hold the Union Jack dear such as The Mirraz, Quattro and Veni Vidi Vicious — new bands considered high hopes for Tokyo's resurging Brit-influenced, riff-heavy guitar-rock scene.
Back on the U.K. Stage and bending the Best of British rule are Australia's kaleidopop partisans Van She, no doubt justifying their appearance by talking forcefully about the Commonwealth and then playing a load of amazing music to distract us. Meanwhile, winners of Glastonbury Festival's New Talent competition Golden Silvers will be hoping to woo the crowd and emulate the career of The Subways, who also won the competition in 2004 before finding success in Japan.
In the spirit of international relations, the British Embassy in Tokyo will be offering a leg up to unsigned British band The Xcerts, getting them a slot on the bill. Long live cultural rock 'n' roll diplomacy!
British Anthems is on March 14 at Shinkiba Studio Coast, Tokyo (1 p.m.; ¥6,000;  3462-6969).