For fans, the shows have been especially poignant. Late vocalist Wong Ka-kui—killed in an accident in 1993 at the age of 31—has been resurrected in the form of a life-size video projection, alongside his former band mates. This eerie guest appearance takes place during the performance of Wong's Fighting War for 20 Years. "Ka-kui played the music on an acoustic guitar and hummed along. We added our instruments and sang the lyrics," says bassist Ka-keung, Wong's 38-year-old brother. "This then became a song that our full band performed. So we got the idea that we wanted to bring him onstage with us as well."
It's hard to overstate the importance of Beyond to Hong Kong music fans under 40. In a scene long dominated by insubstantial teen idols, Beyond have been the Beatles, the Clash and Oasis rolled into one. To this day they remain the only Hong Kong band to have made the transition from underground obscurity to mainstream stardom. From their first single—1987's Songs of Yesterday—they've achieved this by espousing an openhearted, socially aware brand of rock that compensates for its occasional ham-fistedness with endearing sincerity. Through 27 albums, their songs of protest and peace have touched on everything from human rights to China's social contradictions to the aspirations of ordinary Hong Kongers. One of their most famous songs, 1990's Days of Glory, is about Nelson Mandela: "Today there's only a battered body left to welcome the days of glory/ Holding on tight to freedom." For many of Hong Kong's apolitical youth, it was the first time they had heard of the South African leader.
The record companies didn't make things easy, either. "It's like they kept pouring buckets of cold water over our heads," says Yip Sai-wing, 39, Beyond's drummer. "We wrote a lot of songs for them, but they'd always say the songs wouldn't work. Some wouldn't even listen to our songs. They'd just take a look at us and reject us on the spot. We had to make a lot of compromises to meet their requests. We attracted a wide public [later] ... then we were able to slowly turn back to doing what we wanted."
After this weekend's concerts, Beyond will embark on a world tour, playing to mainly Chinese audiences in Asia, Australia, Canada and the U.S. "When we feel as if we've performed to all our fans around the world, as a thank you to them, then the tour will end," says Ka-keung. But it looks as though there might be more of Beyond on the way. A new generation of devotees is emerging, with many longtime fans now bringing their children to the shows. "Our dream now is to capture the third generation—our fans' grandchildren," laughs Yip. "Then we can be the Hong Kong Rolling Stones." For now, it seems, nothing can stop Beyond—not even death.