Well, well well...it's been 10 years since we all turned Communist! Time for a Party eh? The Beijing Big Boys are Back in Town and it's pissing with rain (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Darren Emerson was in the frame for a Handover Party, but it never happened (what went wrong?) So, Derek and boys at Lotion put their heads together and came up with Takkyu Ishino from Japan, Ricky Stone (fresh from the fleshpots of Shenzhen) and local hero Jason. The venue is Western Market, where DJ Dan and Daft Punk provided a thrilling night out recently.
As I enter the building, I spot Manek chatting with a friend - "this is Tag" - a fan who's here to hear Ricky do his thing. Tag says he knows Ricky "from when we lived in HK". He's hoping Ricky isn't on too late as "I'm off to see Sao Paulo play Bayern tomorrow in the Reunification Cup and I need an early(ish) night". Almost right on cue, Ricky arrives with Dennis aka Turkish and Melinda. He beckons us to follow him upstairs and inside where Jason is behind the CD wheels of steel. My knee is aching so I grab a seat near the door and watch the Grand Parade go passing by. The ladies for the most part are dressed up although stylish caps, vests and jeans are on display. The guys are more baggy/crumpled in appearance. The DJ set up replicates the DJ Dan experience. Big dance area and the VIP's are in the minstrel gallery's to the left and right. I recognise some people from the previous show (hi, Alex from Canada and pals).
Jason seems to have tailored his set again. There's some nice whibblewhibble 'tronics overlaying a blend of future-retro 80's synth-cum-New Romantic background melodies. At times, it's like Sasha at Space versus the worst of Judge Jules and his fabulous homage to all things fromage (ie Cheese!) The vocals are slurry, sliding up and down the scales and shifting in pitch while hints of Ultravox, New Order, some proggy Yes or Barclay James Harvest unfold under the beats. Hell, there's even some sexy saxaphone at one point. The crowd is expanding rapidly - over 300 at this point - and seems in fine fettle although there are several severely overmedicated punters in my vicinity. These people seem to be approaching an Iggy Pop state of mind where they're having No Fun. Meanwhile Jason appears to be channeling Eddie Halliwell entertaining a Hawkwind audience. The music squirms and shapeshifts through prog/goth/symphonic/cosmic stylings and it's a far-out groovy fucker of a gig, man.
Ricky's on about 0100 and he maintains the twisted pace with a few more rock voxbites. Great sample from the Red Hot Chili Peppers comes and goes in a mutated frenzy. Or was it Annie Lennox? Maybe she's later in the set. Maybe I imagined it? No, my medication seems to be working fine. There's some serious stutter-drums worthy of John Creamer in full flight. There's the insistent nagging bass riff from Patricia Never Leaves The House which wanders in and out of several tracks for about 10 minutes or 2 months or whatever. Squeaky bleeps from middle space blend in and out of Vangelis meets Therion keyboard klatter. Jason and Ricky are now going back2back? Is that the term when they play about 15-20 minutes and interrupt each other's sets with the best of intentions? Whatever, it's working. Turkish is struggling through the crowd, but doesn't look like he's filming very much with his enormo-cam. Ricky whacks on a great sample of Iggy doing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" which he tells me later is a new bootleg of his. He's already played "Rapture" by IIO to -well- rapturous acclaim. My brain's on fast flashback to 2001. It's heavier than the original mix or the Paul Van Dyk remix with some muffled thunder drums reminiscent of Gary Glitter (when he was famous for his music and not his pervy lifestyle) The crowd is nudging 1000 or so and it's nearly time for Takkyo But first it,s a big hi to newfound friends Janine, Nikki, HaiGunn, Chris, Tak Wai and Jamie who've been wondering just what the fuck I'm writing for the past 40 minutes.
I'm next to Rob from Japan who informs me that Takkyu is "a bit old and middling" these days. He says there are younger DJ's in Tokyo who are much better, but don't get the exposure. Despite this tepid tribute, Takkyu revs it up a notch more. A "fuckfuckfuckfuck" sample, almost like techno-Moby, pounds out and his set is starting to veer towards the hard-edged beats of Westbam and a more Berlin Love Parade Experience. The crowd is getting bigger and I'm thinking of moving when Janek (who I haven't seen since the Carl Cox gig last December) finds me and escorts me upstairs. The VIP's do things in style. Bottles of Red Bull and Moet Chandon are everywhere. Everything is going great with Takkyu until 0425 and then The Shithammer Descends...
The music abruptly stops, the lights go on and it's another recurring episode of Pigs in Space. Yes, it's the well-timed Official License Check. I mean, what the fuck is going on. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is a legal gig. The DJ's have legal contracts. They're in HK legally. The Police are the one's who granted the license in the first place. Don't they know if their own licenses are in order? And if not, all it needs is one PC Plod to check it in the afternoon or before the show starts. Was it a noise complaint as some people were heard to mutter. If so, talk to the promoter quietly and say keep it down a bit. The noise isn't always that loud these days anyway. Possibly 80-90 decibels so as not to impair heari(pardon! What you say?)ng. I mean, this isn't a vintage Slayer gig where the volume is 140 decibels or more. Once the show has started this gig is legally no different from Opening Night of the HK Arts Festival! When was the last (first actually) time you saw that busted? The front 10 rows hauled away and breathalysed? Yeah, dream on. No, this is simple harassment by the police Because They Can. Perhaps they're trying to provoke a reaction to stop all future disco/rave/dance nights.
Full credit to all the fans inside who submitted to the silence with no small measure of dignity. Other places in the world, the Boys in Blue would have been slow roasted barbecue if they tried pulling this shit, but here everyone just sat patiently and waited them out. Maybe the simple answer is that they were just trying to make ends meet, Double or triple dibs for working over the holiday period. A chance to impress the Head Hogs during their brief grip-n-grin with our The Donald. The police left after an hour or so. No arrests were apparent, The fans won out and Takkyu played out the rest of his truncated set. Everyone went home sort of happy, except for Laura Norder who probably had to do a lot of paperwork. Tough shit. Overall, another fun night. Thanks Lotion and keep 'em coming.
(Review by Nick L.)