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John Legend Live in Hong Kong,
Saturday January 20th at the Asia World Expo Arena.
With 2 successful albums behind him, 3 time Grammy-winning RnB and soul performer John Legend arrived in Hong Kong with over 1000 fans waiting in anxiety at the Asia World Expo Arena.
The concert was initiated by a soulful and warm performance by one of his female back-up singers. After much anticipation, a white spotlight shining over a dark stage illuminated the figure of John Legend, as he graced the crowd with his famous pose in front of the piano. From this point on, it almost seemed like he had hypnotized the entire audience with the charm, elegance and soul pouring through his voice. The crowd’s reactions were most enthusiastic when we heard songs from his first album, Get Lifted. For the simple reason that his crossover sound between Hip Hop and Soul (clearly done with the help and support of Kanye West), he was able to appeal more than just the aged-over 30 audience.
John Legend is not a new or fresh sound to me, or to other people. But to hear him live is a somewhat of a rejuvenating experience. More than his physical and vocal presence, I feel his lyrical talent has to be respected too. As unaware as a Hong Kong audience often is, Mr Legend took most people on a spiritual journey, that involved a lot of loving, and a lot of cheating. But change comes too, and everything is meant to slowly work out ‘Once Again’. Above all, he kept it smooth. It was surely done in Legend’s style.
Review by Arun R
As I walked down the stairs to the lobby of the Agnes b cinema, the hustle and bustle hit: the place was full of life. At my first “I Shot Hong Kong” screening, I had no idea what to expect and as I took my seat in the packed out ruby red movie theatre the lights dimmed and the showcase began.
The night began with “A Hong Kong Ferry Tale”, a cute kooky 2D animation following an immigrant as she pursues her love interest. Raising a few giggles this was a charming beginning to the night. “Unlucky Dog” was a black and white piece which captured the darker side of Hong Kong characters and left the audience half in horror and half in fits of laughter as it followed a young unacademic Chinese boy and his new found friend, a shaggy white pup.
I was pleasantly surprised by the next entry directed by James Hacking. “Subtitle” is a story of an unhappy banker in the bright lights of the metropolis that is Hong Kong. Where the suicide rates are 40% higher than places such as Britain and the USA the subject of suicide is touchy here, but this film encapsulates the loneliness and despair that the city can bring in a tasteful and well narrated approach. This gritty and well thought out plot, really utilised the backdrop of Hong Kong effectively giving a real feeling of isolation in this city of almost 7million.
Keeping up the high calibre was “Punkification”, a tongue-in-cheek comedy at youth culture that took on the format of a documentary. With very natural dialogue and strong observations of Triad/Punk culture this light hearted piece had the audience howling in laughter as the class of a “How to be a Triad” class took their learnt knowledge into the streets of Mong Kok.
Returning for the second half I was a bit disappointed. It began with a tourist board endorsed advertisement, so I thought until the spectators started applauding. It was then I realised it was the music video entry “Pounding Waves”. The next short film “Running” started well as it panned across a running field, I had high hopes, but the story turned out to be disappointing with an unimaginative and predictive ending. “Tagspotting” a short film cum documentary about Hong Kong’s graffiti culture gave insight about street art culture, but mid film as people checked their programmes I could feel the audience’s attention waning.
The closing piece was a far from ordinary short film directed by Josh Evans where a nervous man orders a pizza of intergalactic proportions. As we follow this young man around his apartment this zany off-the-wall short film left some of the spectators chuckling in their seats and the others bewildered. A surreal ending to the night, the spectators at least had something to talk about with the eclectic selection of short films, animation and music videos. A real mix of skill and viewpoints the evening was a great opportunity to see independent movie makers and their creative ideas: a delightful evening to slow down from this hectic and bustling metropolis and see the talent and visions of some of the minds within it.
Review by Liz Wong
I'm traveling in a taxi with Julia and Casey, two friends and fellow-ravers from the recent Timo Gig. We're somewhere in Tuen Mun trying to find the Carl Cox/Deep Dish gig that is taking place this chilly December 16th. W'eve gone through a new town of Fu Kah Wei?, past the second light on the left and straight on "til midnight. Finally, a big sign advertising Winter Music Fest part 3. It's a large container yard, exposed to the elements. Four containers form the stage, which has 2 video screens, DJ decks, FX and speakers on it. It's about 10 feet high, crash rails about 10 feet in front of it and bars and refreshement stalls about 80 metres to the back. Fairly warm upfront, as the containers block some of the wind. Probably be a great venue in high summer. Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen. Indeed, among other extremities. How many dancing corpsicles tonight?
DJ Dicky is manning the decks. Some fine, rolling prog breaks, booming out while a near 3-D laser show slices through the smoke and stars glint eerily in the cold, crisp nightsky. The music takes in Bentley Rhythm Ace, cross-pollinated with early Pink Floyd keys, mixed with echo-laded Indian riddims. Lots of progcussion. Drums clatterchat and weave through the soundscapes. He doesn't mind slowing the pace down to near dub-levels at times. There's a seamless segue from Dicky to Jason F about 0030 and Jason heads into more darkprog territory. Theres white noise, micropulses, washes of sound spinning and turning. A vocal refrain of "Close your eyes' drenched in echoFX.A fine version of Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall is a staple in Jason's box and he revamps it again tonight. I'think some Felix Da Housecat purrs for attention at one point.
A raver called Rick, more of a fan of Deep Dub than Carl Cox, say's he going upfront to thaw out. There's probably about 1000 or so people here so far. Lots of them have taken advantage of the free bus shuttle from Causeway Bay and TST. Other's don't mind paying $300 + for a cab. There seems to be lot of Europeans here too. I'd guess about 35% or so. The most I've seen since Fat Boy Slim in 2001. Fellow Lammaniacs here include Moony, Tiff, Phil, Ben, John, Kumi and Oz. Ameet, an Indian DJ mate, is upfront with his crew. The crowd is especially jolly, despite the cold.
I finish scribbling some more illegible notes and look up to see that Deep Dish has started. Actually, it's just Ali Shirazinia and he's billed under the name Dubfire. Good tunes and nice pacing. I don't know many of the tracks - I don't think he's doing much "traditional" Deep Dish tonight. His set is paced rather like Sasha Live at Space in Ibiza, but where The Man is more euphoric space dubpulse on that CD, Ali is more euphoric progtribal. He does dip into some of Sasha'e early stuff like the X-Pander Cd at one point (thanks for that info John!) He's also content to let some of the tunes meander on until conclusion. No Jeff Mills 15 edits in 10 seconds type-shit here tonight. Save that for The Big Man on next. There's a lot of scattered applause and Manek and other snappers seem happy up on the stage at intervals. Towards the end of the Dubfire set, one of the two video screens blows over and isn't able to be re-connected. It now feels colder than the Iranian President's conscience as Ali warps/wraps things up.
I think it's about 0330 now and Carl Cox appears to tumultoius cheers. It's his 3rd gig in Hk in about 6 years. He's promised some new material in an interview in the SCMP, but most of the crowd just want the Old Skool hard-charging high tempo tunes. No photographers are allowed on stage.t's just Carl and his minder/roadie. The 2nd video screen topples over as well and is removed. I've seen CC twice now (both times in utmost sobriety) and for me, the jury is still out. He starts on a par with Dubfire, but soon the beats are twisted, revved and amped up. The sound increases to about 135-140 bpm. There's an interlude of what sounds like clanging, monged sheet metalworkers run amok. Demented destist drills whine and fizz through the smoke and lasers. Metallic rap like vox and FX rattle the speakers. He's putting on a show, but I feel like I wan a warm fire and a nice cup of cocoa. Lot's of other ravers don't share this viewpoint as the crowd up front remains a heaving mass. No, wait, some people are starting to leave. It's about 0430 and the crowd is definitely thinning. Let's be charitable and say more people prefer to get the free shuttle (which ends about 0500) rather than stay for every echoing clang, bang, crash, wallop, tootle and thrum. I know my feet were happy to leave. Overall, considering that the venue was organised at practically the last minute, the gig was a chilly success. Here's to the next one.
Review by Nick L.
Timo's coming! The Maas has roared into town on the 3rd leg of his short Asian tour, which also takes in Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Osaka and Tokyo. It's part of the HK Clubbing 7th anniversary celebrations, co-hosted by Lotion Communications. The Li Hua Restaurant in Lee Theatre Plaza is hosting this bash for the first time. Local support is ably provided by DJ Moretts, a resident at Volar and Jason F who never seems to miss the big name gigs. It's 2330 and no sign of Nick W. so I head upstairs where Derek Wong, the PR for Lotion, sorts out my entry and apologises for asking me to stash my rucksack. (No worries, mate).
Inside, the floor is covered in plastic sheet. There are about 30 people here, some slowly swaying to the sounds of DJ Moretts. Some intricate proggy keys, thumping bass and polyrhythmic drums stutter and clatter, echo and fade around the room. The mixing is near seamless with some deft knob twiddling. The tunes are pitchshifted, phased, interspersed with ambient white noise, twinkly melodies and a sense of sun, sea and Samba squirming within the soundscape. Haven't got a clue what any of the tracks are, What with all the sub categories of music these days, you can make up your own definitions. Is it dub-trance meets progfunk? How about some hard lounge versus chillcore? Nu-electroglam? There are hints of Timo's trademark "dark and wet and squelchy" sounds as well. The first tune I recognise is a remix/splice of Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" which is raptuously received. I'm not sure if it was Moretts or Jason who played the tune. Jason seems quite adept at tailoring his sets to complement the headliner. He was a bit proggier when John "OO" Fleming played here and more breakbeat with The Plump DJ's. Tonight he's a little bit starker and darker than Moretts while veering in and out of the former's template. I've caught up with some old party buddies like Karina and DY. Peter K is here and Kumi, who organises and leads a monthly Drum Jam at The Fringe. She only knew at 2230 that Timo was coming, coz I told her, and she made the 2330 ferry off Lamma.
Timo arrives as a "routine" police check is occurring. There's about 600 or so people inside, by the entrance and along the corridors to the toilets. The ladies queue is about 4 times as long as the gents. Behind the decks, Timo's getting ready and doing some impromptu PR, posing for the grip-n-grins with happy punters. He's got a well-deserved reputation as one of the most friendly and unprentious DJ's on the international circuit. He enjoys bonding with his fans and giving out special CD mixes to a selected few. We met up for a great day out on Lamma when he was last here. Big hugs (aw how sweet!) and he tells me "Bob sends his regards. I knew you'd be here. I asked around and was told you're coming". "Wasn't going to miss this gig, mate", I reply.
Last time, Timo kicked off with "Seven Man Army" by The White Stripes and finished with "Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. This set starts more low-key with hazy electronica and fairly minimal drum and bass melodies. A tune with a chorus of "Don't rush round me" draws applause. There are skittery drum patterns, meshing and colliding, hints of Depeche Mode style new Romantic-electro, a capello choruses floating above the mix. There are nods to early Rave with acid squelches, squiggles and squollops bursting free, amid clusters of pulsing blips and Spinal Tap-esque basslines (as in these go to 11!). I think he may have played some tunes from his recent Mixmag cover mount CD as well. It's a 2 and a half hour Maasterclass in minimalist mixing. He uses both turntables and the 2 CD players to full effect. At one point, a guy in the front row is beging for an autograph. Timo looks at him, and doles out CD's to 4-5 ladies who are surrounding him. The guy looks crestfallen and after a few moments, Timo hands him a CD as well (probably with a sly wink to boot!).
Late in the set, Timo leans over and tells me the next song is his new mix. A cracking version of "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode blasts out and the crowd go wild. Dave, who is Timo's tour manager, introduces himself and we chat affably. He also pours me a vodka-cranberry cocktail. (always a pleasure to help you drink your rider Timo!) and I delegate the reviewing duties to the wacky backstage contingent. Julie S, opines "This rocks my face off" while Carey John Anderson is "having the time of his life" Nice to hear, considering he lives in Florida. Chris wants to say "thanx for rocking the fuck out" while the lovely Kobby is "psyched" Timo winds down his set with a song that has the chorus "if I can be free from the sinner in me" and Jason returns for a second brief set to end the festivities. Top night. Honours are deservedly shared and Timo, don't keep us waitng anoher 3 years for a return bash. You've got a lot of good fans here my friend.
(A random afterthought) Timo has remixed quite a few Depeche Mode tracks. I'd really like to hear his version of DM's 12-inch remix of "Master and Servant" overlaid by the vocal track of "Venus in Furs" by The Velvet Underground - maybe a few whiplash FX and orgasmic squeals spliced in as well. A dark and wet SM remix. How about it? See you next time, Nick.
Review by Nick Lovatt
"Fancy a BLIM?" "Yes, wait, what do you mean?" "DJ BLIM is playing at Les Visages tonight" I first saw him at HITEC in mid-2003, and I like his style. Gervase Cooke, aka BLIM (Boy Lost In Music), is on his 3rd tour of duty in HK. He comes out of drum-n-bass, played classical piano as a child and loves classic psychedelia, according to the SCMP. Local DJ, Janno, and DJ Hidekick from Japan are the support.
I arrive at LV about 2345. Nick W. has organised entry. As I get upstairs, about 10 people (almost everyone) are glued to the tv. West Ham are 3-2 up against Liverpool in the 2006 F.A. Cup Final. It's the 90th minute and a desparate clearance lands at the feet of Steven Gerrard. He wallops the ball from 30 metres. It's 3-3 and extra time Janno is behind the decks, delivering a Slinky-style prog/trance set There are lots of tinkly melodies at the high range. Some symphonic overlays merge with hints of Goa trance, deep driving bass and rampant drums It's a tussle between the beat and the score as extra time remains goalless (though West Ham hit the post and muff a simple chance). A subliminal voice seems to be murmuring "Use your passion" as Liverpool win the penalty shoot-out 3-1. On the floor, smoke is spewing out like scented soup. It obliterates the floor entirely. No way to tell how few people have arrived. Is there a problem with the advertising? I know, posters have been up in LV for over a month, but how bout elsewhere?
Manek and Nick W. arrive from C Club. I learn that the police have decided that Eating Dog is illegal. They burst in for another "License check" and basically put the "c" into the rap experience. C Club clears quickly. (Does it cost a lot in overtime pay for the police to come save our morals, hearing and education? Surely, a "license check" can be carried out with 2 people in the afternoon? Or, is that too logical?)
Not too many more people coming in here though. BLIM starts quite funkily, slipping in some nu-break beats and lots of synth squiggles and squeals. There's WAY TOO MUCH smoke on the floor.as he layers on some nu-jazzFX and beeps. He's starting to sound like a deranged Spike Jones, doing the Looney Tunes noises for Chuck Jones. An early song I recognise is "Crystal" by New Order. Possibly the Lee Coombes remix with added angry drums. He's starting to stretch out now. The next few tunes recall Nic Fanciullo"s Porn House mixes, underlaid with some Weimar Republic decadence. There's some hefty twiddle knobbage going on as the tunes speed up and slow down. They warp, distort and fade into the air, which is cut into ruby red smoky ribbons by several lasers. As his set progresss, BLIM is mixing electroclash with the old Trevor Horn style pomp production he used with Frankie Goest To Hollywood. I can hear echoes of Seb Fontaine mixed with elements of Groove Armada and Bentley Rhythm Ace. Alpine horns blare out over a chorus of "Hit it now". Timo Maas pops up, Krafty Kuts gets a look in and the whole set is one fun, funky digi-electedelic rave-up. After he finishes, he says, he couldn't get all of his CD"s to work, so that made mixing more interesting. He's leaving for a week's holiday in China, followed by a gig in Guangdong on the 20th.
Blake, one of the co-promoters of tonight's show, seems more happy about having DJ Hidekick playing. Blake thinks, he's gonna be a next big thing in the Japanese breaks scene. Hidekick has a partner, Di. The two have performed as Blue Water since 2003. They piggyback each other quite well, and although not as freeform as BLIM, they have their moments. Operatic chants, bongo breakouts, lots of heavy scratching , even a sample of Sting singing... The smoke machines continue to puff overtime as I rest in a secluded corner and write some notes. Overall, the music was fine, but the turnout out didnt justify the talent on display. Better luck next time.
Review Nick L.
I'm close to The Edge and it seems apparent that U/G 27 is going to start late. A fairly large crowd of young(ish) networkers are getting convivial while Skunk Anansie rap about Selling Jesus. On stage, Fantastic Day are fine tuning their whirling mash of New Romanticism/glamrock/power pop. Three of the band are dressed like Be Bop Deluxe, Simon, the singer, sports a sweater as well. Very New Rom-retro. Only the bassist is in a T-shirt. The weakest part of the set is the vocals, which are very lo-fi. The lugubrious keyboards on "Shooting Star" add a wry elegance while the smoke machines envelop the band and front row. A blonde lady in a pink mini has a wacky little wiggle on the dancefloor before sheepishly sitting down again. As the set progresses, the sound gets more cosmic. The guitars recall Hawkwind live, crossed with some Comsat Angels. The organist is mixing The Charlatans ( U.K.) with some Nektar progrock and echoes of early Ultravox/John Foxx. Pink Mini returns to the floor with her partner Zebra Dress as the guitars go neo-Byrdsian via The Chords/Jags/Fingerprintz. Very early 80's melodorock into a charming, chiming conclusion.
Asian Dub Foundation and Fischerspooner up the politics and electro-tempo as Glitter get ready to rock out. This quintet have an appealing amalgam of early-to-mid 70's influences. Prime time Sweet bang up against Beggar's Banquet Stones. There's also some touches of Thin Lizzy prancing-metal licks, wah-wah solos from The Rattles back catalogue and the slow bassrumble BPM of The Flies or Vanilla Fudge. There's still a problem with the vocals though, but Glitter continue to mix it up. Early Groundhogs rockblues melodies against cascades of notes of shattered glass..Part Roxy Music, part Dr. Phibes. Nick W. and Manek arrive as Glitter end with a final flourish of good old Stones/Iggy/Bowie rock riffage.
Chris B's mix-CD is playing The Darkness and Rammstein as League of Heroes take almost 30 minutes to soundcheck. It pays off as their twin vocal assault is audible.as they promise to "fuck you over for sure". They switch from symphonic Queen-like solos to Spacemen Three droning to Hawkwind spaceboogierock (without Nik Turner's sax). This mutates into early Pink Floyd spaceblues guitar, which overlaps into clank-n-groan dark metal. This is music to accompany Orson Welles playing King Lear. The spacedub whispervox mutates into screams and grunts. More Orcan howl than Rock and Roll. Other tims, it swoops and twists and pans around the dance floor, eliciting genuine applause form the 30 or so people up close and personal. Clifton, on the door, tells me L of H played about 45 minutes, which is probably a song too long.
Chris has had to leave suddenly, so Manek introduces the final act of U/G 27. "Are you ready to rock? Here's False Alarm". Lillian, an artist, opines that U/G is "one of the best things here in HK. It's fucking fantastic" I know, I'm having a major meander down Memory Lane tonight.. Again, the vocals aren't forward enough, but False Alarm have a cheeky Canto-Cockney appeal about them. Like The English Beat, or The Only Ones.. Musically, a lot is going on. There are variations on the wah-wah pedal, more spacey-echo guitar. There's reggae breaks, sitar sounds, nagging noodly melodies. Some pogoing post-punks, bouncing around to a buzzsaw refrain. The drummers have all clattered and clashed, pounded their pedals and made a hellacious racket. I've enjoyed tonight. It's like the first time I heard "Badge" by Cream, when Eric Clapton's gorgeous guitar solo took me beyond the confines of the rest of the song.. It's the piano/guitar interplay for the last half of Layla. The guitar freakouts in the middle of "Star Storm" by UFO (1971 version - not the Acid Jazzers) or "Through With You" by The Lemon Pipers. Something wonderful is occurring. Hope to see you 26/5/06 for U/G #28.
Review by Nick L.
There few a few pleasant surprises during the course of that night, all of which made the night more enjoyable and entertaining. Gossip 17 as a venue is one of the best venues that we raver have available to us in my opinion. Gossip
17 adds to the night, from the illuminated dance floor,size, location and the refreshment services all of which improved the quality of the night's experience. The cost of drinks were significantly cheaper which increased the number of drinks sold keeping gains up and improving the atmosphere.
The local DJ performances were spectacular at getting the crowd warmed up for Rogue Element. I was too tired to dance and thought the night was going to be a waste, I was wrong, when Rogue Element stepped up i could dance all night, with an endless source of energy fueled by perfect mixing and unbelievable song choices. Truly a Spectacular and extremely entertaining DJ performance from Rogue Element.
The Whole night was a success from the start, no long line ups, which really spoil the night. Cheaper drinks which in time will attract more people
Review by Michael P.
It's a relief to escape the virulent outbreaks of "Mad Crowd Disease" that have affected Lamma over the Golden Holiday week as I board a near-empty ferry to Hong Kong for another mini-Rockfest at The Edge. The Academy, who've been touring and playing a lot recently, are supporting Japan's Electric Eel Shock. The Tokyo trio are about to join Sonic Youth and Radiohead on an American tour, according to the SCMP. This is their 3rd gig in HK, following Rock It #1 and a semi-secret stormer at Amnesia in 2003. I arrive at The Edge to find a mini-outbreak of "MCD" (with "Advanced Spontaneous Mania" well in evidence). The bands share a table by the entrance where they're selling CD's, T-shirts and EES badges. There are more people here than for Jaggedy Ann. i spot Manek and Nick W. from HK Clubbing, along with Undina, a Lamma friend and drum-n-bass promoter, killing time before tonight's show with Miss Kitten at Volar. I'm chatting with Murray, the HK 7"s cameraman when Clare She-Ra rushes by to join the rapidly expanding moshpit.
The Academy blast through a seven song set which starts slow and builds up pace. Tom, the singer, modestly admits that "tonight, we're the second best band in HK"..The set list includes "Take It Back", "Never Loved You" and "Long Division". They're all hard-rocking, foot-stomping crowd pleasers, The music is the usual (to me) gritty mix of Wishbone Ash (the quieter bits) interspersed with classic Stones and Black Crowes grunge riffs, plus a smattering of No Doubt. There's great drum and bass interplay between Paul and Dave. Paul seems to be channeling the late Keith Moon as he leaves no part of his drum kit unhammered. I'm half-expecting to see him emulate Mick Shrimpton (of Spinal Tap) and explode mid-set. Tom swaggers round the stage, playing to the audience and invoking memories of Jim Morrison, the Lizard King himself. Justin S. is tripping out on freak beat guitar, both together and apart from his bandmates, while Justin C. keeps the hooks a-rolling along. All too soon, they've finished their set and the anticipation meter goes to eleven.
Electric Eel Shock soundcheck/tune-up with a near perfect run through the Sabs "Iron Man" and then play it again at the start of the show. Aki, the guitarist, is pacing the width of the stage, hoisting his red flying vee guitar in the air at every opportunity. He reminds me of Ronaldinho, all happy bug eyes and cheeky grins. The musical maestro to Ronaldinho's soccer supremo. Kazu, the bassist, is equally nimble, climbing on the stacks and running through a gamut of heroic stances. He looks like Ian Brown (ex-Stone Roses) with Johnny Ramones haircut. Drummer Gian radiates effortless cool like Beat Takeshi. His metronomic drumming is interspersed with furious flurries of paraddidles and crashing rolls round his set, but he's intermittently explosive. Overall, I reckon Paul just takes the skinmeister honours of the night, but that's not a dis to Gian. The sound verges from Black Sabbath to live Blue Oyster Cult (w/out keys) to vintage Scorpions. Aki has the crowd chanting "you bastards' early on before another blast of unhinged guitarnoise erupts and he bellows "I want to vomit and I love you all". Kazu provides some Link Wray rumble bass before the amps fail and roadies rush around for 5 minutes fixing equipment. Songs after the re-start recall early Queen and Free as a brief outbreak of crowd diving/surfing provokes panic among the security on stage. Nick W. is there, snapping away happily, as EES play on through the madness. The encore is "Scream for me, Baby" and people oblige. Tom comes back on, saying "Isn't that the best fucking shit you ever heard?". Their final show is at Amnesia on Sunday the 7th. It's gonna be a riot. Maybe see you there?
Review by Nick L.
At first, I thought this story would pre-write itself. I'd heard the comments: "He doesn't use headphones". "He can't mix". "His show in Guangdong was crap". "He cleared the dancefloor" "If he's gonna DJ, he should practise. He wouldn't tour with New Order without rehearsing". Sounds like we're in for a wild ride. I get to Tribeca about 0115. A crowd of at least 120 people are patiently waiting to go inside. They all have tickets. Door security tells me the police are inside, doing either a head count or looking for drugs. Someone remarks "Typical police. They've forgotten to bring ther own. Again". Some people, including ligger James from Argentina, have been waiting for two hours. It's steamy hot. A small sign reads Full House. The crowd are cut off from the a/c inside. I'm impressed by their restraint. The police do seem to be over-zealous in their monitoring of the rave scene. Anyone remember the bad old days at Queen's nightclub? Welcome to the re-runs. You don't see the police bursting in midway through the Opening Concert of the Arts Festival. Screaming and shouting. Turning on the lights. Silencing the Orchestra. Breathalysing the first 10 rows. Would make one helluva video though.. While, this isn't the venue for a debate on the pros and cons of drug legalisation, please note two points. 1) Hong Kong's origins as a global fiscal megapolis stemmed from the (then legal) Opium Trade. 2) Next time, you're on a ferry or boat, check out the city skyline. See how many buildings look like syringes. Finally, OMD's 2nd LP title "Architecture and Morality" makes perfect sense.
I've been waiting with James for about 40 minutes. Inside, we see PH being escorted upstairs. Time to play my trump. "I'm from HK Clubb-..." "Go, right on in mate". ("Coming, James?"). DJ Dicky (?) is blasting out hard electro, some subliminals, good long fuzz breaks. The crowd are happy. I position myself back of the DJ booth. There's light to write and the bar by my side. The lady cashier is making change, swiping cards, checking bills with total aplomb. She's unfazed by the noise coming from 10 feet away. The lights go on and the sound is muted as another police visit is announced. This time, apparently, it's a "license check". The crowd inside are indifferent. The crowd downstairs is getting larger and hotter and no closer to entry. Tribeca, you must try better. James has vanished. I'm chatting with Sebastian from Germany who's glad he made it. A sexyy lovetet of ladies wonder what I'm doing. I promise to mention Yippy, Kelly, Karen Chan, Sheila Wan, Pansy and Melissa in the story. It's nearly 0240 and Peter Hook is about to make his second debut in HK (I'll explain later).
The first track is a piano-enhanced mix of "Love Will Keep Us Together" and slows the musical pace right down, but not for long. A string of 80's styled and inspired electro-throbbers, mixed with some digi-dub keep the crowd dancing. A splendid version of "She's Lost Control" is in the mix. (Is it Joy Division meets Martin Hannet?) A chorus of "I don't take drugs, cigarettes or go out at night. I just fuck" features lots of syncussion and vocodervox. It's another highlight after "Control". PH has pulled out a pair of headphones, but hasn't used them yet. His mixing isn't seamless, but that's just one technique. Overlay, Cut-N-Paste, Mix and Match all work. I remember that James Lavelle and DJ Hell can't mix, but they're great producers. From where I am, PH's CD case is 2 feet away. Most of his discs are the equivalent of white label dubplates with 1-2 tunes on them. No need to have a cue anxiety attack. He's certainly enjoying himself. Dancing up and down. Kicking his right leg backwards like a reverse Can-Can-cum-prancing Pony. The crowd is warming to his style which flows along. One tune melds the Blue Monday drum pattern with a chorus of "Fly across the restless sea". A little pre-taste of New Order glories to come.
By this time, PH has signed about 20 autographs, on tickets, bits of paper, the flyerboards surrounding the DJ booth, somebody's shoulder. (Hell, I got 2 myself!). Notes for requests are proffered, which he reads, smiles, and puts to the left of the DJ mixer. People tell me, he's really caught the mood tonight. Into his second hour and it's getting harder. "Mr. Brightman" by The Killers raises a roar of approval, especially from Jim on my left. The Sex Pistols "Anarchy" flows into "24 Hour Party People" by Happy Mondays. (Possible Oakie mix?). Some synthi-Bollywood strings over gothbeats and stomping dub bass. Some John Digweed sirens come and go. Blur's "Song 2" as done by Armand Van Helden. Good control of the tension/release dynamics and pacing. He's worn his headphones twice as well - once for 2 minutes, once for 1 minute.
A synaptic spasm of sense-memory ripples through the dancefloor as PH moves into the New Order section of the set. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (nice counterpoint to the opening tune), "Blue Monday" and "Crystal" are extended mixes driving the dancers to possible multiple auralgasms. I've never had so much fun listening to a 50-year old man playing his own records. There's a country-billy version of "Folsom Prison Blues" which fits weirdly-well into the selection. At this point, PH has done about 2.5 hours and the promoter is trying to get him to wrap it up so David Lam can take over. PH promises "one more song" (and plays three) before stepping down. So, what's the message tonight? Don't believe the hypers!. Don't judge a book by its cover!. Don't budge a Hook before it's over, either!
We walk out together. I tell him I'm the only person in the room who saw New Order make their HK debut at Andrew Bull's Canton Disco in mid-1985. (Told you I'd explain later.). He says he's exhausted. His 10-day tour is over and he's glad to be going home. As we part, he calls out "See you in another 25 years, la" "Make it much sooner than that, mate" I reply. I stroll away, into the sunrise, whistling a happy tune. We Fade To Grey. The End.
Review by Nick L.
There's about 40 or so people chilling outside Grappa's this Thursday night (eve of Good Friday) for the John OO Fleming gig. Suv is also playing tonight, so there could be divided loyalties (right Manek!). It's nearly midnight. The place is filling up. Ewan is banging out some hard rocking sounds, like it's already 4 am - there's a nervy, wired sort of feeling to the sonic assault, possible subliminals, lots of drums, space bass etc. He ends about 0015 am.
Jason F is on next, working the room into a frenzy for JOOF, due on about 0130 am. Jason has opened for Paul Van Dyk at HITEC and Lisa Lashes at Grappa's last October, among others. Clearly an up and comer. He handles a midset sound failure without getting too upset. and finishes with some deft scratching as JOOF gets ready.
I don't know too much about John's style. I figured he's sort of Sasha-Digweed spacy daze - perhaps some of PVD Politics of Dancing Vol 1. He starts with some Giorgio Moroder inspired electro mixed with Chemical Brothers style breakdowns and mutates into some Eddie Halliwell hard noise (the mid-section of EH's HITEC debut last Xmas Eve. He also sounds like Israeli progtrancer Moshic channeling airport tannoy messages. Overall, JOOF sounds harded than I thought, more like PVD's new direction, but I promise, I didn't yawn once during his 2 and a half hour workout.
DJ Tynee, a young lady and possible friend/protege of Jason F? takes over from John at 0400 and plays the midnight set. Tunes with vocals, some wierdgood breaks and a happyface, keeps the slowly dwindling crowd satisfied and sorta dancing. My approximate headcount is about 600 or so people, but it was dark and i may have counted some twice. Good to catch up with regular fellow clubbers, Karina, DY and PK (tho' you all left rather early). Grappa's is looking like a good choice for a late nite venue. It's hosted Lisa Lashes HK debut, the return of the Plump DJ's, JOOF, and breakbeat duo, Hybrid, the next night. Drinks are strong and my ferry pier is a short stagger and hop away. Top night and many thanx to Nick Willsher and Manek for all their help. See you at the next gig.
Review By Nick L.