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Legendary artists rock Tokyo, raise money for charity

The Tokyo Art Foundation held a charity concert, featuring performances by its chairman Haruhisa Handa, former Toto frontman Bobby Kimball, Starship vocalist Mickey Thomas, former Journey singer Steve Augeri and former Deep Purple vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan on Sept. 26.

All proceeds from the concert, “Shingeki no Hanshin Kyojin Rock Concert,” will be donated to the Lesotho-based charity Sentebale, which promotes efforts to eradicate AIDS.

Handa, who also goes by Toshu Fukami, created a new genre, “nandemo (everything) rock,” where all songs are performed as rock numbers.

“This is a concert for everybody, enjoyable for those in their teens to people in their 80s,” Handa said to the near sellout crowd of about 11,500 at Nippon Budokan, one of the most prestigious concert venues in Japan.

Handa sang 12 songs spanning a wide range, including anime songs, a pop number from a girl’s idol group, enka and American classics. His song list featured “Let it Go,” from the movie “Frozen,” AKB48’s “Heavy rotation” and Tony Bennett’s “I left my Heart in San Francisco.”

Kimball, whose first concert in Japan was also at Nippon Budokan, sang Billboard chart-topper “Africa” and three other Toto songs. Thomas performed five Starship and Jefferson Starship’s songs, including “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now.” Augeri added “Don’t Stop Believin'” along with three other Journey hits and Turner belted out four Deep Purple songs, including “Smoke on the Water.”

In introducing “We Built this City,” Thomas said to the crowd, “A lot of people think this song is about San Francisco (because the song title is translated into Japanese as ‘Cisco Rock City’), but it’s about Tokyo!”

In introducing “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Augeri said to the audience: “Tokyo is a magical city to me! Japan is a magical place to me!”

Turner revealed his love of junmai ginjo high-end sake, after Handa told the audience how much Turner loves Japan.

After Turner’s performance, the five joined together to sing the Beatle’s “Please Please Me” and “Hey Jude.”

Kimball was Toto’s vocalist on the band’s first four albums. The fourth, “TOTO IV,” was nominated for nine Grammy Awards and won six, including Album of the Year, in 1982. Kimball left the group during the making of its fifth album, but rejoined the band in 1998 and remained with Toto until 2008.

Thomas joined Jefferson Starship in early 1980s and became the band’s leader in 1984. The group changed its name to Starship in 1985 and gained prominence with “We Built this City” in 1985 and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now” in 1987.

Augeri became Journey’s fourth vocalist in 1998 and kept the job for eight years. His debut recording in Journey was “Remember Me” from the Armageddon film soundtrack.

Turner joined Deep Purple in 1989. One of the members at the time, Ritchie Blackmore, had been a Deep Purple member on and off since the early years and had performed with Turner in the band Rainbow prior to 1989.

The star-studded lineup packed the house, helping to raise a significant amount of money for the charity. The proceeds, ¥6,000 to ¥15,000 each from the audience of 11,500, will be spent on various Sentebale programs. The charity was founded in 2006 in Lesotho, a country in Southern Africa that has only 1.8 million people, but has the world’s third highest percentage of HIV carriers. In the impoverished nation, a third of the children are orphans and the average life expectancy is only 48 years.

Sentebale organizes camps and other club activities for children aged 10 to 18 to encourage them and to raise awareness of AIDS prevention measures. Sentebale is also constructing the Mamohato Children’s Centre, which is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015. The center will provide emotional and psychological support to children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Handa visited Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and inspected Sentebale’s activities in July and began supporting the group via Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), a nonprofit organization he is the chairman of. WSD is committed to assisting disadvantaged people and communities throughout the world.

The Tokyo Art Foundation was founded in February 2011 to promote various forms of music and other entertainment. It holds rock, enka, opera and other types of concerts as well as theatrical plays across Japan.

TAF has held similar concerts in the past, one featuring former Survivor vocalist, the late Jimi Jamison, in Nagoya in May 2013 and another with former Chicago singer Peter Cetera and Michael Bolton at Nippon Budokan in September 2013.

Handa is also the chairman of a similar organization, the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, or IFAC, which promotes social welfare activities through free music and art events. Since its foundation in 1996, IFAC has enjoyed the support of many people, including Honorary Chairman Shizuka Kamei, who has held many government ministerial posts.