For lovers of classical music, this was an exciting event â two of the worldâs greatest voices combined in a symphony of sound.
Despite the fact that only half the seats were filled, it could not have taken place in a more perfect setting: The surrounding skyscrapers glittering below a dark blue sky, the low hum of the harbour traffic in the distance and, occasionally, the silhouette of a plane passing overhead.
The audience was charmed by Charlotte Church in the first part of the concert. She sang songs ranging from Bernstein to Gershwin but also included âFields of Goldâ by Sting. As an encore, we listened to âSomewhere over the Rainbowâ. She was accompanied by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Arnie Roth. Charlotte Churchâs voice covers an incredible range of music and one marvels at the unique talent displayed â each song executed with memorable precision and timbre.
The second part of the concert featured JosÃ© Carreras, one of the âThree Tenorsâ and a world famous singer in his own right. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by David GimÃ©nez. JosÃ© Carreras sang in Italian â songs by Costa, Gastaldon and Strauss amongst others. The audience was plainly mesmerized by his brilliant voice and the heart-rendering music. They did not allow him to go at the end of his performance â four encores followed, notably âSanta Luciaâ, âGranadaâ and a Neapolitan folksong, âWinterâ, one of his personal favourites. He received a standing ovation by the enthusiastic audience â which returned home having enjoyed a very special evening.
Review By Christiane W.
David Bowie's Screening in Hong Kong:</b> Upon the release of his 26th studio album Reality, <b>David Bowie</b> announced on NBC's morning Today show that he'll be playing some new places during his first world tour in a decade.
Just what does this trailblazer mean by that? Try Hong Kong and Singapore, though no specific dates were mentioned.
The current Reality world tour, which began this month with a sold out show in Copenhagen, is just one of several initiatives Bowie has been involved in as of late. One would expect little else of the artist, who has created headlines by allowing the public to invest in BowieBonds, became one of the first singers to offer widespread downloads and was an early proponent of communication via email with the media. As a testament to his renewed creative passion, Bowie has once again reunited with producer Tony Visconti, which is good news for those who enjoyed their classic collaborations on Scary Monsters and Heroes over two decades ago. That's not all. The week of the album's release, Bowie became the first artist aside from heavy metal act Korn to digitally simulcast a live performance of his new album around the world.
This meant that a theater full of Bowie fans at Wan Chai's Convention and Exhibition Center got to interact with likeminded folk in Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore at the same time. After watching Bowie perform the entire album in its entirety at a London studio, he then solicited questions from audiences in each city. Hong Kong's query Would you like to collaborate with Kraftwerk? was lost on most of the assembled audience (It would be delightful to work with them. It's never been proposed. was the polite response) but there were other gems. What part of your life would you live over if you could? asked one audience member from Singapore. The year 2000 to now but back in 1967 was Bowie's witty comeback, which prompted further laughter from the man himself.
If the pre-screened Q&A session wasn't quite as revealing as one would have hoped (predictable queries about tour visits and current CD favorites were the order of the day), what was electrifying was the concept of an audience interacting with a musician somewhere else in real time. Effectively promoted, this could eliminate the current junket scenario where artists get subjected to thirty or more lengthy interviews in one day. It would also provide the opportunity for avid fans to interact with a star they would never get the chance to meet otherwise. Representatives from the regional office of Sony Music, who spent a rumored six figures for the promotion, agree. We've been working on this for weeks and while it's logistically complicated, it's a very effective way to promote the new album, says William Yu, a Regional Marketing Representative from Sony Music. Sony Music is the first company to do such a live showcase. I'm sure there will be more to come, he added.
So what makes such an event different from a pre-recorded program showing the same content? Everything and nothing at the same time. Bowie's showcase was shot using digitial widescreen cameras and recorded in DTS digital 5.1 surround sound. Then it was delivered digitally to theaters around the world. Visually, it puts fans right in the same room as those who are experiencing the event in person, complete with the same sound quality. Time zones permitting, it can also reach many more people around the world simultaneously. Never mind Bowie, the audible excitement emanating from the Tokyo audience was one of the most exciting moments of the entire event.
With such technology now in place, it paves the way for the possibility that some theater owners have been rhapsodizing about for years. The idea that a mega artist, say U2 for example, could be playing live at New York's Madison Square Garden, while broadcasting to theaters in Moscow, Jakarta and Sao Paolo at the same time. This would give fans access to artists they never see and artists access to places where they never perform, all at a price everyone can theoretically afford.
But back to Bowie. That promotion may or not have been the catalyst for Reality debuting at number one in half a dozen countries. Yet it's garnered a considerable amount of publicity for the new album (which is by no means his best, but at the age of 56 his effort is certainly more respectable than what many artists come up with at half his age).
Thankfully for fans and likeminded innovators everywhere, he shows no sign of stopping either. EMI Music Asia, with full and enthusiastic approval from Bowie, will be releasing new locally commissioned remixes of the eighties classic China Girl for inclusion on an upcoming Greatest Hits album. And who knows? If what Bowie says is really true, we'll be seeing him sometime early on in 2004 in Hong Kong. The real live variety, in person. Wouldn't that be something...
Review By: Scott Murphy
Westlife in Hong Kong:</b> Westlife have always had this love for Hong Kong, while itâs definitely lucky for us, Hong Kong-ers down here. Canât even count how many times theyâve been here, or how many times have I talked to themâ¦ but concert-wise, this is just their second!
Opening Acts Energy and Evonne Hsu, both from Taiwan, and both did some covered versions of Korean songs, certainly got the crowd wanting Westlife even more!
Now, spotlights on, five members of Westlife all stepped on the stage with their leather pants, looking tight, singing âWhen Youâre Looking Like Thatâ; if you compare this look to how they used to be when they release âSwear It Againâ, youâll see what kind of a progress these lads have made. Followed by their greatest hits âIf I Let You Goâ, âFlying Without Wingsâ and more, itâs been truly a sing-along show, which most of the audience enjoyed.
Lights out, props up, you would have seen sofa and some very comfy chairs being brought up to the stage, leading to an acoustic set. Kian and Bryan playing the guitars with their percussionists, cooling it down for the fans, and for themselves too, of course! But itâs always good to see the other side of Westlife, the side that shows more talents than just image.
Then comes the surprise, five songs in the row, COVER VERSIONS! Would you ever imagine Westlife singing Beach Boys and Prince songs?
Also performing songs as world premieres, such as songs from their upcoming album âTurnaroundâ, that would be, like I said, the reason why Hong Kong-ers are lucky to see Westlife.
Finishing with the smash hit âWorld Of Our Ownâ, itâs been a relaxing, feel-good, enjoyable night, so in return to Westlife saying âWe love Hong Kongâ all the time, weâd like to thank you guys for bringing us your Greatest Tour!
Review by: Alyson Hau
t.A.T.u. in Hong Kong. This is the first time for these Russian ladies to come to Asia, and most specifically to Hong Kong. Not like Westlife, t.A.T.u. were only here for mostly the concert, not for the media, but them being so controversy has kept them on the press, pretty much, everyday!
This was the only show of the Harbour Fest which was a full house! Everyone had their free-ticket on hand, expecting a family time at Tamar Site. Twins did a pretty good job at that, but then, we started to worry, how would the 6-year-olds feel when they see two lesbians kissing??
Starting with their worldwide number one single âAll The Things She Saidâ, t.A.T.u. came out with their simple outfit, white top, jeans, looking casual. After just a couple of songs, âHow Soon Is Nowâ and âShow Me Loveâ, Julia brought it up with her Russian accent, âOk Ok, weâre going to doâ¦ the KISS!â Both her and Lena had their camera, while the big screen shows what they see from the cameras. Asking the crowd toe kiss before they do, it took a bit too long for Hong Kong to get as crazy as they are, then it became a little cheesyâ¦ After all, they kissed, twice!
Performing songs from â200km/hr On The Wrong Laneâ such as âMalchik Gayâ, âClownsâ and â30 minutesâ, itâs a surprise to see the girls singing live, since their pitch were so high that it was almost impossible to reach!
Closing the original set with the splendid âNot Gonna Get Usâ, t.A.T.u. took the crowd to their remix set. Switching âNot Gonna Get Usâ to the trancy mix, followed by a reggae version of âAll The Things She Saidâ, you can tell that, yeah, everybody loves dance music, even families here in town! If the CD didnât jump, it would have been a perfect show. But overall, it was quite a wild night for Hong Kong, and a success for Harbour Fest.
Review By: Alyson Hau
Air Supply in Hong Kong. The evening began with the performance of two canto-pop stars, Eason Chan and Ronald Cheng . They set the scene â and the mood â with several catchy songs which the audience loved.
They were well received and are well liked by the local population.
After a pause filled with thunder and lightning effects, the stars of the evening appeared , Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell. Their dramatic costume and make-up only diverted the attention momentarily from their excellent and professional performance and their marvellous love songs. They brought the audience to their feet; this is what people had come to hear, songs like âEven the nights are betterâ and âHere I amâ.
From the moment they began singing their first song, they held everyone spellbound throughout the night. At one point, Hitchcock left the stage and walked around the arena to meet the fans â and they just loved it.
Air Supply clearly has a large following in Hong Kong where they have performed live several times. A most enjoyable evening with old favourites â old, but still phantastic!
Review By: Christiane W.
UmojaâThe Spirit of Togetherness is the direct translation. I first met dancers from the group outside the City Super in town where they danced to promote their show.
There they were: exotic and amazingly clad in furs and colourful beads, whirling around the bemused and curious shoppers to the exciting beat of African drums. One could not help but stop and watch, enthralled.
After having seen them at close quarters, the performance itself came as no surprise. The dancing and the beautiful songs, together with drums and band music, was an event so unique that even the most introvert person would begin to feel his or her feet twitching and tapping. The pure joy of the performers in their own song and dance shone through all their acts and scenes, which were set in a time sequence of life in Africa over the last century. Umoja succeeded in showing the Hong Kong audience the most beautiful and interesting aspects of life on the big continent . Many of us have not visited Africa and have little personal experience of its people.
This showed us what an immense wealth of kindness, goodness and happiness its men and women have to give and share. A true promotion of the African people and their togetherness.
Review by: Christiane W.
Neil Young...No Rust Here in Hong Kong. Neil Young promised to play a jamming "greatest hits" set and certainly delivered Thursday night at the Hong Kong Harbourfest. During a mere fifteen song show that lasted over two hours, Young and backing band Crazy Horse delivered a frills free performance that made the audience realize they'd just witnessed one of the best concerts ever to have taken place in the city.
When the opening chords of "Love To Burn" rang out across the open aired Tamar site, it immediately answered any questions the audience might have had about what Young would play. "Greendale" would be saved for another day. Instead, fifteen minutes in, Young and Crazy Horse were still jamming like they were in their garage..
Once finished, Young announced "I'm very happy to be here in this great city of Hong Kong...this time playing for brothers and sisters in China." And so it went with more barn storming, as the set passed the hour mark after only five songs. A blistering "F-----n Up" was followed by a transcendent "Hey Hey My My(Into The Black)" which made many fans in the three quarter full open stadium go into a state of sheer bliss.
Once Crazy Horse exited, the folky Neil Young emerged. Acoustic guitar in hand, he proceeded to completely change the tone with "The Needle And The Damage Done,", "Heart Of Gold", "Harvest Moon" and a faithful version of "Sugar Mountain" that had a pleased crowd singing along.
Young raised the bar even more when Crazy Horse returned. Every note of "Like A Hurricane" left the audience in awe of a rock artist many never expected to see in the city. And even though the encores of "Mother Earth" and "Keep On (Rocking In The Free World)" were predictable, few fans wanted to leave when Young took his grinning curtain call, arms entwined with Crazy Horse. The thrilled crowd reaction surely must have made Young wonder why he'd never made the Asian stop earlier in his career. This was a rare concert where the performer, in this case Neil Young, could have played for another couple hours without any complaints from the audience. The Stones, the Hong Kong Harbourfest closing act, will have to be on peak form to top this show.
When Neil Young ventures down to Australia for his first shows in over a decade, fans are definitely in for a treat: an energized performer who is clearly pleased to be playing his extensive catalog for fans half a world away.
Opening for Neil Young was Michelle Branch, who proudly proclaimed that one of his songs "was the second song I ever learned on guitar". The twenty year old Branch showcased her brand of breezy guitar pop to an attentive, but largely indifferent crowd.
With a pleasant forty minute performance that certainly would have held it's own on a bill with peers in her age bracket, Branch's lightweight angst had little emotional impact against the legend most of the crowd had come to see.
Review by: Scott Murphy
This is the 117th show of the tour and we're very pleased to be doing the last one in front of you, " said a super energetic Mick Jagger midway through Sunday night's show which closed out the Hong Kong Harbourfest.
That said, an 18 month "40 Licks" tour which took the Rolling Stones to 21 countries concluded with a blistering 19 song set.
Considering that it's taken the group four decades to come to Hong Kong, the 13,000 capacity crowd knew they were in for a once in a lifetime event. The Stones did not disappoint. With a rare amped up Hong Kong audience on hand, Jagger, for one, pranced around the stage like a man half his age.
The opener "Brown Sugar" segued into "Start Me Up" during which Jagger quickly shed his green silk jacket for a t-shirt. Every inch of the stage was used by the entire group to gesture, preen, incite and thrill the crowd. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" became a mass singalong, after which the surprise chords of "Monkey Man" made even t jaded concertgoers go silent with surprise. This lead to an extended dark version of "Midnight Rambler"
The night's other chilling moments were provided by an intense duet between Jagger and backup Lisa Fisher on "Gimme Shelter", as well as a gritty "Street Fighting Man". "Honky Tonk Women" featured a humorous risque manga cartoon involving a woman's body and a gigantic pair of lips.
Predictably, the evening finished with "Satisfaction" and an encore of "Jumping Jack Flash". For an obvious international crowd from around the world who were on hand to see the last date of the tour, the single encore was disappointing.
However, the crowd's infectious giddiness was obvious. They'd just seen the Stones in Hong Kong for the first, and possibly last, time. Based on this super professional appearance, the group certainly has the ability, pizazz and the stamina to do future tours. At this point, one has to wonder if even their fans can keep up with these ageless wonders.
Review by: Scott Murphy
HOME NIGHT CLUB played host to the GRAND FINALS of the PIONEER HOME DJ QUEST last Saturday night, 22nd November. The night attracted many punters showing support for the six finalists.
It was definately a good sight to see so much support for 'underground dance music' in Hong Kong. Its not often you can pack out a club full of musically inclined clubbers, so it was indeed a breath of fresh air.
As we mentioned before, there was no second place glory. There would only be one winner, who would take home the grand prize: a residency with HOME & a PIONEER DMP-555 pro DJ digital media player.
And though DJ's Victor, Jonnie K, DJAS, Pixel, and Bowie tried their best to impress the judges... it was DJ DARKA who rose above the rest to win in the end.
Expect to see DARKA on HOME's roster in the coming new year, with a launch party to kick off the his residency.
Thanks to our sponsors for making this event possible: PIONEER, as well as HKclubbing.com, and CAT (caterpillar brand) wristwatches.
Starsailor visited Hong Kong for one gig over in Wan Chai. Supported by one of the hottest local bands âWhence He Cameâ, Starsailor sung a variety of tracks from their first and second album that was released this year âSilence is Easyâ.
Tracks on the night included, âFour To The Floorâ, âAlcoholicâ and of course âSilence Is Easyâ. Their performance was superb with various crowd interactions during their constant guitar changing. I think whoever went along had a good time and would welcome them to return.