Event Reviews

Check out the latest event reviews here from some of the best and worst nights we have had! If you would like to submit any news to this section please get in touch.

So, it's 21/6/08 and David Dunne is touching down at JJ's with a twisted bag of Kandi-land krackers. He's accompanied by the mighty Ian C. on Roland electronic drums and more traditional percussion. They've been playing about 20 minutes by the time I get inside. The place is rammed. Same old Hed Kandi visuals from the previous show. Volar has vibier visuals. There's some nice proggy bits going on underneath while mutant disco and New Romantic melodies are layered on top. The bass is twangy elastic at times and there are bouncy bubble beats here and there. On top is Ian's frenetic drumming. He's a veteran of many live gigs and has played on some of the top mixes. He and David are meshing very well. Sometimes, Ian forces the pace. Explodes into flurry-bursts of percussive action while David selects the next choice number. Other times Ian chills out. Leaves the stage on occasion while David lets the mixes play out. Some are played nearly straight for about 7-8 minutes. Others are layered into long segues. Even the vocals, which are the most Andy Norman part of his set, don't grate on me tonight.

The styles vary from deep tech salsa  at one point to disco snippets and Chembros style big beats. Some nice grungy noise, meets tinkly Italian house piano. There are freaky synth squalls, bursts of what sounds like Viv Stanshall's Bonzo's on bad acid. There's some technoir Scorsese movie music and some delightful displays of darting digidelix. Um, me likey. Hell, I think The Sixties would have loved the set. The Fillmore/Avalon/UFO/Round House trips updated, remixed and remastered in full on swirly sensurround. One ringing anthem chant of "Freedom: rings out over the syndrums while another tune "Rock the DJ", washes in and out of the mix. Jaw-dropping aural fun. David does the same trick later with a long tease using part of "Sweet Dreams" before playing the remix. There's echochords bouuncing round the room and other progtastic trickery. Back to soulful stuff with "Music is the Answer". His set seems to peak and alter about every 20 minutes or so. Much like Andy Warburton. I'm Having A Good Time Now.

All too soon, (about 3 hours), it's over, Tai Pan Dan is rounding down the night and it;s time to go. DD is on my list to see again. He's shown a lot of tricks and styles. He says that Lamma-based DJ Nipper taught him to mix and they hosted a radio show together. Nipper sends his regrds. Thanks Nick W. and Manek for turning me on. See you at the next one.

Review by Nick The Bookman

Thursday 19/6/08 and I've arrived at The Wanch for what promises to be the start of an exciting new musical event. It's the first Raw and Unplugged Sessions to be organised by bc magazine and features four diverse local acts. I didn't know anything about this gig until Steve Cray told me about it - mainly because he's one of the four acts on display. I've always had a soft spot for acoustic/unplugged shows. A taste that was acquired during 14 years of attending the late lamented Hong Kong Folk Festivals. The HKFF is in indefinite limbo because the last Festival Executive Committee basically drank up all the profits. Or spent them on sex. Fast food perhaps. Or just simply wasted the money.

Steve has given me a copy of bc magazine with brief pieces on all the performers. It sounds intriguing enough and I'm captivated by a quote from Scarlett Lewis who says "come and support us. Acoustic performers are the most neglected in the world and...the most talented"  A viewpoint she shares with The World's (formerly) Most Elegantly Wasted Person - Keith Richards. He once said if you want to hear how good a guitarist is, listen to him play acoustic. You're in good company, Scarlett (aside from the massive wealth and luxuries and top class draw that is!). So the line-up reads: Scarlett Lewis and Ash Pritchard. Lani Giro. Reigh Lee. Steve Cray. It's meant to start about 2100 and end about 0015, Friday. Just enough time to get the last ferry home. If everything goes according to schedule...

I've arrived outside The Wanch about 2000 hours. The plan is to get a good front-row seat where I can scribble and scrawl to my heart's content. Soak up the vibes. Let the medication kick in and not jump around too much on my never-ending dodgy knee. It's often said that no battle plan ever lasts beyond first contact with the enemy. And so it proves to be (except the battle bit of course). I can't get a seat. The place is packed. Not rammed as full as the reunion gigs by The Bastards. Where you might have gained entrance if a cannibal giant ate you completely and generously farted you out again. (Apparently some readers were put off by my previous chainsaw/highpressure hose interface metaphor in the Bastards review. Yes? No?)

There's about 15-20 sailors from the Good Ship U.S.S. (DELETED). They're here to support their good buddy John Bryant who is an unexpected opening act. He contacted The Underground about possibly playing. Chris B. referred him to Simon Durrant, the editor/publisher of bc Magazine. A few months later, all is sorted out. The first Unplugged Sessions is taking place and John is the opening opening act. He plays a storming set of originals and one cover which is "I Mind" by The Mystics. His set is greeted with whoops of near drunken approval and cries of "John, I love You" (and that's his fellow swabbies). He's a strong strummer, rather than a fine fingerpicker. His voice and style remind me of a neat cross between Badly Drawn Boy, John Sebastian and John Gorka. One song is actually called "Badly Drawn Boy" As a side trip, Uncut Magazine recently put out a Springsteen tribute/covers CD. Badly Drawn Boy plays the most haunting version of "Thunder Road" I have ever heard. I'm getting all horripilatory, just writing this sentence and thinking about it. It should be available for down load somewhere on the InterWeb. Or just ask Uncut. Or me. It's easily worth your time to find it.

John tells me he's a big fan of Dylan. And various hellbilly rock n' rollers like The Cramps, Misfits etc. John, it was a pleasure to meet you (and Julian the semi-Norseman). Hope you liked my CD's and looking forward to hearing you again.

John and his buddies leave slowly. The intermission tunes include "Sweet Child" and "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns and Roses. Also "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Dead Or Alive" by Bon Jovi. It kicks the happy tension up a notch or three while Scarlett and Ash set up. They have a more English bucolic folk story-telling style. Scarlett does the lead vox and Ash backs her up. Scarlett told bc Magazine that her set is "original material" dealing with Hong Kong's financial and social divides. I work with refugees and asylum seekers and they inspire me". I'm buggered if I can think off hand who they remind me of. Partly The Trees. Also some early Fairport Convention and a bit of Pentangle. Martin Carthy and Norma Waterston who were the headliners at the penultimate HKFF. All that's missing is a bit of fiddle. Scarlett says she's also a big fan of John Martyn. I'm happy because I've nabbed a seat at last. The medication kicks in and completely screws up my hearing. The fifth song I hear as "Iron or Leather" Scarlett very kindly corrects my notes later and says the track is actually "I Will Never". (Actually, I liked my title better. Overtones of folky s and m? A new level of protest song?) A very pleasant 40 minutes has elapsed. Scarlett precedes her last song "Perfect" with a plug for a refugee welfare gig on the coming Saturday (21/6/08) organised by her "closest friend" Danielle Spencer. It took place at The Cavern and I hope it went off well. For more details and upcoming gigs, you can contact them both on danielleis@hotmail.com. Here's to the next gig.

Lani Giro is the third act of this increasingly enjoyable night. Born in Michigan, he's been a resident in HK for several years. He plays a Gibson Blues King acoustic/electric guitar having downsized most of his equipment because in HK he "seems to have (to) walk miles up and down concrete paths and through corridors" Lani looks like the fifth member of The Wild Hogs - the recent biker comedy with John Travolta, William Macy, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence. I'm expecting a gruff grizzled voice to go with the appearance, but his singing is quiet, almost conversational and rather sweet. More of a folky-blues picker with some delicate touches of Leo Kottke or Jorma Kaukonnen in the mix. There seems to be some airy Kevin Ayers (mid-60's) coming through as well. His original songs include "Modern Lady", "Can You" and "Earth" which was timely some 20 years ago, but is more urgent now in the dying days of Bushreich and his complete indifference to global environmental isues. Steve Cray has arrived by now and I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to stay for his set. Sue Sharman is here. She tells me she'll be duetting with Reign Lee who is on next. Rei, who recently guested on flute with Hamada's new world fusion-funk band, berates me for missing that show. I'll try and make the next one and do a review.

For us (mostly) unsozzled hippie reprobates and survivors, the phrase "For one brief shining moment, there was Camelot" is a gestalt experience. It's shorthand for the what if memories that accrued from the JFK Presidency. If he hadn't been murdered by the Mafia/CIA, how might history be changed? What bittersweet yearnings were trampled underfoot by his death and the slow realisation that The Light At The End Of The Tunnel  was the crazy swerving trainwreck that is the Great Dubyahoo and his treasonous Cabal. Another song, Don Henley's "The Boys Of Summer" affects me the same way.  The original "Boys" were the 1960-61 New York Yankees. Don Henley uses it to say you can never go back. All that remains are wistful memories,sawdust dreams, barren skies and empty trees. The past is a painful place to re-live in. And the point of all this nostalgic gibberish? It's summed up, again for me, by Reign Lee's opening song "Summer Faded".

Reign and Sue amble on stage after 2300 hours. It's looking more evident that I'll not hear a lot of Steve's set. Reign is playing a plugged in acoustic. Sue is full electric. Three little FX boxes by her feet marked, Smallstone, Overload and Acoustic Simulator. Reign was born in Ontario and is now a "Hong Kong-based alternative rock diva" (Chris B. has some serious competition now. Does she know I wonder?) Sue is HK-born and has just moved back to Lamma from the fleshpits of Central. Reign tells the audience helpfully that Sue spells her name "S-i-o-u-x". Whether that's t-r-i-o-u-x, I d-o-i-u-x not know. I'll stick with Sue for ezyar spelin. She's made 2 CD's called "Broken Skylines" and a new EP entitled "Holding Back The Beast" . In her interview with bc, Reign says that one fan has commented on a "recurring theme in my music: a constant wrestling with demons"  I hear it as a haunted nostalgia, the pain from wrong choices, wrong times. Not all bad though, but certainly plenty of Dr. Van Helsing's "bitter waters" must be waded through before we "reach the sweet".

Overall, the set is stunning Nu-Goth tinged with Acid Folk. Sue's guitar playing recalls late period Bunnymen, mingled with "Blue Sky Mining"-era Midnight Oil. The vocals are clear and strong. I can hear some Patti Smith colliding with Pat Benatar. Even a bit of Belinda Carlisle when she still fronted The Go-Gos. There are some fine indie/80's gothchick rhythms and some naggingly familiar vocal mannerisms that will wake me up at 0300 saying, yes that's it. That's who she reminds me of. Anyway "Summer Faded" was my top tune of the night and you two lovely ladies stole my heart away with the rest of the set. Songs included a tribute to the mysterious "Helena", "Don't Walk Away", "This Lonely Love" and "In The Rain" All of them taken from the "Broken Skylines" CD, according to my notes. I probably had the best set in the house for this gig, sitting where the drummers usually play, watching the set from behind the performer and you managed to finish just before midnight. If you want to find out more about Reign, go to reign@reignlee.com . There's just enough time to watch Steve get set up before Rei and I head for the last ferry. Steve, sorry I missed you. Again!  It doesn't always pay to be the headliner. (And, we just wanted to confirm with you Mr. Hendrix that you'll be closing Woodstock at 0700 Monday). Steve told me later, he played until 0130 or so. Reign stayed for his set and he got a beautifully autographed copy of "Broken Skylines" (Thanks for the burn Steve. Reign, the CD is stunning.I'm playing it a lot at home.) Simon, nice to finally met the editor of bc Magazine. It was a great show and here's to the next one ASAP.   

Review by nick the bookman.

On the 30th May was the opening celebrations of the global flagship store within Hong Kong’s most prestigious Central shopping district. Arriving at the brand new store, it revealed the epitome of style and class, a delightfully bright and fresh four stories of glass and stainless steel.  With Coach’s horse and carriage logo emblazoned throughout, in a shopping haven for the accessible luxury that Coach is renowned for.  Coach has become a shopping destination for fashion-minded women and men around the globe, but more excitingly now to us lucky folk in Hong Kong.

Men in black opening doors, and ladies in black assigning fluorescent stamps to the worthy for the celebratory opening night of Coach.  Unfortunately it was anything but a coach that transported those from the store to the party location in Kowloon.  From arriving at the store and receiving such a welcome, I had expected at the very least some big luxurious buses with a man wearing a top hat escorting those into the bus with an extended hand and a gentle bow, and of course another top hat clad man behind the steering wheel.  Perhaps a chandelier hanging from the centre of the Isle while promo adverts for Coach Luxury items silently beckoning on the overhead plasma screens…. Instead it literally was a mini bus, but hey it was the thought that counts.

Arriving at the venue in Kowloon, a huge white tent covered with Coaches silvery logo from floor to ceiling.  Inside the who’s who of Hong Kong dressed in their designer ware and proudly displaying their Coach handbags, mingled about sipping on champagne and nibbling on fairy floss and jelly beans. 

Then Mr. John Mayer took the stage and with no pomp or prestige.  Just walked onto the stage with his accompanying guitarist and started playing.  It was all acoustic, simple and oh so effective.  

He covered Alicia Keys No One wonderfully and sang No Such Thing, My Body is a Wonderland, (which Mayer stated that he is still so proud of even after all the slack he has received about it), and Waiting on the World o Change.  He is such a talented musician, and that was evident by the way that he held the crowd in the palm of his hand while sitting down and singing with only guitar accompaniment.

Set List  
1. No One – (cover by Alicia Keys)
2. No Such Thing
3. Belief
4. Good Love is on the Way
5. Waiting on the World to Change
6. Your Body is a Wonderland
7. Bigger than my Body
8. Why Georgia     

Review by Megan N.

The Click Five found one another at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and formed in 2003.  Opening for acts like McFly, Ashlee Simpson, the Backstreet boys and promoting their two albums Greetings from Imrie House and their latest release Modern Minds and Pastimes, it seems that these boys have been on the road for the last five years.

The girls were giddy for their matching mod outfits and their super sprayed hair, as well as their preppy pop tunes.  It seemed as if they had been taken straight off the assembly line and put onto the stage, even their music seemed a little too perfect.  All the right chords and hooks, yet lacking in any real substance

The kids in the crowd loved Flipside, Just The Girl and Jenny with their big pop sounds.  I loved their acoustic numbers Don’t Let Me Go, I’m Getting Over You (although it was slightly slaughtered by a mouth organ?? Seriously!!!!), and There You Are, which were a nice change from the mash of pop and rock that sometimes seemed a little too big for the boys!

Overall the clan of kiddies with their glow sticks seemed to dig The Click Five, which to me are a mix between the retro Beach Boys and the more updated Backstreet Boys pop/rock sound.    These boys are only young and I do take my hat off to the fact that they’re out there doing what they love and their audience seems to love them.  I look forward to hearing more mature and acoustic tunes from these lads. 


Song List:
1. Flipside
2. Happy Birthday
3. Addicted to me
4. Good Day
5. All I Need is You
6. Empty
7. Summertime
8. Don’t Let me Go (Acoustic, written by Ethan Mentzer)
9. I’m Getting Over You (Acoustic)
10. I’m Looking Through You (Acoustic, Beatles Cover)
11. There You Are (Acoustic)
12. Just The Girl
13. Long Way to Go
14. Pump It Up (Elvis Costello Cover)
15. When I’m Gone
16. So It Goes
17. Jenny
18. Headlight Disco

Review by Megan N.

As a HUGE fan of James Blunt’s original, intricate voice and his lyrical genius, I had settled down into the jam packed stadium expecting a gentle, poignant performance from the quick witted, skinny and almost nerdy looking Brit.

But instead I was blown away not only by his amazing ability to let you see right into his soul, as if he is singing his songs for the very first time, and just for you.  But Mr. James Blunt can ROCK OUT as well!!!

He appeared on stage in a silhouette of smoky red light, with his unmistakable voice and the gentle accompaniment of the Piano.  He was dressed in a light grey suit and an open collared white shirt with his wild curly hair, and a hint of sexy stubble. As the Chorus kicked in so did the lights, and a little rock to get us all ready for an unbelievable evening of First class entertainment.

Blunt performed a great mix of songs from both albums Back to Bedlam and All The Lost Souls. 

His ballads were even better live, Goodbye My Lover, the ever so popular Beautiful, Shine on and No Bravery. His unique gift to move from the purest of whispered notes to bursts of sheer passion made my knees weak and the tears roll especially in Carry You Home, which was the highlight of my night.

I was super surprised at James’ gusto with So Long, Jimmy, Annie, and Out of My Mind. He can rock it out with the best of them!! Not just with his awesome guitar, and piano skills, but he was running through the crowd like a crazy person. He didn’t just run through the front row and then back onto stage… No no, he was jumping over chairs, darting left and then sprinting right.  The crowd on their feet, surprised, yet especially entertained and I can tell you that not many Superstars would have the guts to do what he did, it was very cool and totally unexpected. 

James entertainment did not stop at his singing and playing almost every instrument on the stage, (the poor guitar tuner was working his arse off making sure they were all tuned and ready to go for the next song, and the next, and then the next) but there was a flurry of running, jumping about the stage, on speakers, and his piano that he tried to surf. He was smashing huge gongs, and dressing up in fury florescent hats and feather boas!!!  Brilliant musician and entertaining as hell, I was so impressed by James Blunt, the cool little rocker. 
Obviously nerds are so hot right now!

1. Give me some Love (All The Lost Souls)  
2. Billy (Back to Bedlam)
3. High (Back to Bedlam)
4. I Really Want You (All The Lost Souls)
5. Carry You Home (All The Lost Souls)
6. I’ll take Everything (All The Lost Souls)
7. Goodbye My lover (Back to Bedlam)
8. No Bravery (Back to Bedlam)
9. Annie (All The Lost Souls)
10. Coz I Love You (Cover by Slade)
11. Beautiful (Back to Bedlam)
12. Shine On (All The Lost Souls)
13. Out of my Mind (Back to Bedlam)
14. Wisemen (Back to Bedlam)
15. So Long, Jimmy (Back to Bedlam)
16. The Brightest Star (All The Lost Souls)
17. Same Mistake (All The Lost Souls)
18. 1973 (All The Lost Souls)

Review by Megan N.

Modern Rhapsody! A fantastic night to start with the long weekend. Maxence Cyrin attracted a mixture of crowd, classical, electro and piano music lovers. He shared his creations indicating a new era of music generation.

The concert is enjoyable with the adoption of familiar melodic lines yet occasionally surprising when he was harmonizing with heavy baseline and feet tapping on the floor to bring in a funky rhythm.

Disco ball plays an important element in the concert. People were slightly distracted from the lighting effect until the fire alarm woke them up when Maxence was playing Britney Spears. Synergy was created through the music and lighting effect, I was a bit confused where I am when I close my eyes. 

Maxence Cyrin brought Hong Kong people a new approach of listening music. He perfectly combines classical music with electro through his technique and improvisation. Creativeness is definitely what music lovers are looking for, he absolutely inspired them astonishingly.

As a newbie to Hong Kong and the live music scene in China, I was very keen to check out the local talent here in HK.  My first stop was Underground 58 held at Club Cixi in Central.  It was an ideal location for the line up, and perfectly matched the enigmatic elements of the acts.  It was dark and intimate club with a fresh, young crowd that seemed to enjoy all of the night’s entertainment.

KILLERSOAP I actually missed, but I did check out their myspace page and their sound is an edgy pop rock with Greenday-esque harmonies and melodic front lines.  I enjoyed the listen.

THE FRAGILE I arrived for their last song of the night, Eclipses.  I was impressed by the lingering note that I entered on, a smooth outro that left me wishing I had arrived earlier to hear their entire set.  But they looked great on stage, and the lead singer looked like he was supposed to be there, which is always a bonus.

GONG WU’s line up was fast and furious, and was the surprise act of the night for me.  I don’t know why enjoyed them so much because I’m not really into death metal.  But the lead singer Li Xu had a voice that lead singers anywhere would die for!!!  Hardcore and perfectly pitched ….well for most of the songs (not including the Your Victim).  Bass player Peter Gardiner worked his fingers to the bone in tricky lines that I just loved.  All of their tracks had such great hooks which is rare for this genre, (that I usually associate with a mash of noise and screaming).  A few of the tracks had a very Red Hot Chili Pepper’s vibe that worked for them and I absolutely loved the last song Strip it, which I could so hear on commercial radio.    

HUNGRY GHOSTS were very tight musically, and lead guitarist Paul ripped out some memorable riffs, but the vocals for the first three songs were obsolete.  I’m not sure what happened but I hope that they fire their sound guy.  For such a great musical sound, the vocals would have been the icing on the cake, but they didn’t kick in until their second last song for the night.  They had an interesting collaboration of sounds from haunting melodies to rock out choruses and an engaging mix up of rhythms, slowing up half way through a song and back into the faster paces, and did so flawlessly.  The last two tracks Modus Vervendi and Chinese Families were both outstanding, with interesting and original beats, and Five Year Plan had an unforgettable melody line fit for a movie soundtrack.  I was left pissed at the sound guy for screwing up over half of their set. Brilliant musicians though, I hope that these guys keep thinking outside the box.

CONSENT playing for Underground for the first time were the headliner for the night, so I was itching to hear their music.  Once on the stage I could hardly see them, they seemed to be a group of six fifteen year olds all dressed up in their funky shoes and ready to rock!!!  Although they were cool little dudes, I half expected to see their mums somewhere in the crowd. But their music painted a different picture.  With a cocktail of some sweet scratching and neat vocals to an emo rocking extravaganza, I was hooked from start to finish.  Impressive intro’s built into enormous choruses that were perfectly arranged with twists and turns to keep us all at attention.  Unfortunately when it came time for their second last track 抬起頭 all hell broke loose, when the DJ stared multi tasking between scratching and mixing in a synth melody (which would have been a stroke of genius had they pulled it off).  Somehow it was entirely off beat and destroyed the rest of the song.  But these guys have a mass of potential beyond their fifteen or so years, and I can’t wait to hear more from them!!! 

THE SINISTER LEFT were definitely old rockers, very experienced and it showed.  There was nothing “Sinister” about these guys, just classic ROCK!  They took control of the stage in a strong set from start to finish.  I think that they were perfectly positioned to finish off the evenings entertainment.  They were good listening although nothing revolutionary.

Overall I really enjoyed the scene, and hope that more people get out there and support these local acts as they seem to be a dwindling notion, and it would be such a shame to see them fade away through lack of interest and venue participation. 
I can’t wait to hear more from these musical groups, especially Hungry Ghosts and Consent. 

Review by Megan Nuell

At first, it was hard to imagine what this event would be like.  Would it standout amongst Hong Kong’s many attempts at a rave-like party?  Would it be in the shadow of the former HITEC music events?  Would Hong Kong appreciate hard trance, techno and driving progressive beats?

Turning off the highway onto a narrow road the taxi driver slowed down to avoid human obstacles that were meandering towards a blur of light far in the distance.  The road widened to a car park where crowds were queuing.  The walk from the ticket-check area to the event was pretty long.  As we walked music changed from a dampened bass to a clear, crisp sound.  When it came in sight, it was impressive!  A large (in-ya-face) rig, lighting, lasers, a sea of people, incredible!  Finally, Hong Kong had got it right!

Arun R (one of Hong Kong’s rising talents) kicked things off with progressive trance, his deep melodic beats enthused the crowd.  The music changed to pumping dirty electro (awesome); however, some might say wrong place, wrong time.  On occasions the sound was clipping, slightly too loud and the lighting was blinding.  The setup was definitely stadium size but the area it dominated was too small.

The crowd a mixture of Chinese and Western, old and young (very young it seemed) were bopping and jumping.  Yoga instructors were bending and twisting to the tunes.  And adding to the rave-like atmosphere many had dressed reminiscent to the cyber-kids of Gatecrasher.  It was pretty cool and wet.  The fine drizzle of rain didn’t let up.

Tiesto came on and true to his form, the energy spiked and the place was electrified.  He shook the foundations of the rig with his hard driving tech edged tunes.  As expected the crowd reacted when he dropped his famous tracks.  He took the crowd on a journey of ups and downs, and they stayed loyal till the end.
It summary, this was/ IS exactly what Hong Kong needs.  Location will always be a problem as well as other hindrances that prevent a return to the good ol’ days but this was a move in the right direction and it was welcome by clubbers.  More please!

Review by Jay

  Tom Middleton at Cliq 12/4/08
Well, this turned into a different Titanic Night To Remember! The good ship Renaissance has sailed serenely into a sheltered Hong Kong harbour. Only to intersect with an implacable iceberg of indifference? Ineptitude? Ignorance?. Let me explain...

I found out Tom Middleton was making his local debut (12/4/08 at Cliq) about ten days  earlier. Quick call to Nick W. and his magic mobile fingers did the rest. I'm on the list. Later, I'm sharing this good news about TM (a former Jedi Knight. The Sound Of The Cosmos. Mixes it up quite tastily etc.) with Karina, a fellow traveller on the rave circuit. She tells me her younger sister, Christianne, is dating another Renaissance DJ. His name is Dee McAuley and he's been in HK a few weeks. Did a  deep tech house warm up set for the last of Ricky Stone's recent shows.  Despite being a stablemate, Dee didn't know Tom was coming until 2 days before. He was hoping to open, but Roy Malig scored that gig.

I'm inside Cliq, listening to Roy when DJ Christian tells me that Paolo Mojo is in town as well. In fact he's playing "NOW" at Q Club and Christian is due to follow him in a couple of hours. (Christian and Lamma-based DJ Nipper weave their digital sorcery in Cliq on Friday nights. Sometimes with live percussion from Oz. Well worth checking out). Anyway, you guesed it! Paolo is another stablemate on Renaissance. He played a stunning digital set last year at Heat to 3 men and a dog. Now, he's back on his 4th trip here. This information is not starting to make sense. This big label has 2 Megastars and a nifty Young-Prince-In-Waiting in HK at the same time. One can't get a gig. The other 2 go head to head in adjacent clubs.  So, what's the story, morning glory? Did Renaissance not care? Were they unable to do anything about it? Or, did they really not know where their talent is at any given moment? This could have been a great Renaissance night (like the "glory days" of Hitec).  A top showcase to match Sundissential, Gatecrasher, FBS with DJ Scanty or Deep Dish. Sasha losing his HK virginity. And so on.

It's a little earlier in my fluid timescape. I'm inside Cliq in a small room about 20 feet square. DJ Booth is level on the floor. Not very well protected. The room seems a bit small for the huge influx of TM fans. I've killed about 30 minutes hearing a master beginners class. Christianne and Dee arrive. I'm in the wrong room. Eventually, stumble next door where Roy Malig is mixing mellow prog trance with some housy raps. One long tune is about a lengthy pill-fueled night. Quite fun. Big thumbs up to Teresa Lam, a fellow scribe. We met at 2MDJ's I think. Both agree that was an awesome night. I've bumped into DJ Christian who also tells me that Lee Burridge is downstairs, trying to get in. Lee cut his teeth as a global star in the fleshpots of Wanchai around Handover/Hangover time. He's back here and HE doesn't have a gig for tonight either. Maybe, he played elsewhere later in the weekend. Tonight, he spends quite some time in the VIP box. A night of discus interruptus for Lee. A Solitary Man on Sunday Morning Coming Down? (Probably not, he's still got mates here).

Roy has played a mixed and mellow set. Some big drums. Dub-echo effects now and then. Some sugar melodies and nothing too fast. The visuals are in tune in a way. Subdued wireframe computer models of trucks driving on motorways and throug tunnels. Red/pink/blue geometric shapes folding and going all fractal like 2001. Models and clothes and pastoral scenes abound. It's nearly 0130 and Tom is in the house. Behind the decks. Grinning and greeting the 50 or so fans upfront.

"Good evening, I'm Tom Middleton from London. I play all types of music. House, electro, dub, techno, all styles. Let's see some hands". He kicks off with a remix of "Last NIght A DJ Saved My Life" with extra fairy dust electronic sprinkled on top. A good start, followed by a brilliant mashup of "Sweet Dreams" (Eurhythmics) and "Get This Party Started" by Pink. He promises, and delivers, "a little old-school, a little nu-skool". I'm joined by Bernard the fan who wonders if I'm reading a Bible as I'm so concentrated. Tom has started shifting pitch and phasing sounds, cutting sounds in and out and banging out drum beats on his mixer/FX box. At one point, it sounds eerily like the drums for "Blue Monday" and, no, he's off at another tangent. A lick of "Funkytown". followed by a snatch of "Star 69", more oddball electronica and what sounds like Party Animals on Mogadon. The middle section of his set loses some energy. Becomes a bit musically mundane and minimalist. Tom's on form, posing for photos, shooting film with fan phones, shooting video of me and Karina watching him shooting video of us watching.... (this is almost a visual loop). Near the set's end, there's a glorius 7-8 minutes of what sounds like echoey Tonto and Steve Hillage keyboards with shimmertronics and electrowobbles. Another tune sounds like Moby when he was sampling all those old (and dead) blues-gospel singers. My highlight comes with "Under Mi Sensi" by Barrington Levy perhaps. Cut up with FBS big beats and breaks.  A long ranging trudge through "Teen Spirit" by Nirvana as remixed by Daft Punk and extra vocoders. By this time, Karina and Derek have left. It's been a long night.

Tom has time enough to say's he's been touring Australia with Norman Jay "who sends his regards to HK" He concludes with "thanks for coming out and rocking it. You guys are definitely on my map". He introduces his new single "Pure Love" (I think. My ears were facing inwards.) The last tune he drops is a growling r'n'b femvox sample of "Sunshine Of My Love. Overall, a shallow "vee" of a show, Started well, dipped off and roared back to take no prisoners. I'm glad I saw and heard him and dropped off a couple of CD's for him. But a little part of me is thinking that I would have preferred to see Paolo Mojo again. Dee, I really liked your CD mix and am looking forward to hearing you play sometime soon. Intrigued fans can check him out on www.myspace.com/deemontero or through Renaissance. Meanwhile, there's a rumour that Peter Hook may be back imminently for another DJ stint. Hope it's true.  

nick the bookman.

Check out the photos here:


Well, this could go either way...I found out with 2 days notice that 2ManyDJ's are playing at Volar as part of the 8th Par-Ici French night. It's probably too late to get hold of Nick W. at hkclubbing to get me in, so I'll try leaving a card at Volar and see if that works. The staff should remember me from earlier gigs that I've reviewed. The card is dropped off and so far so...

I've arrived at Volar at about 2315 and am pleased to see Nick W. and Manek in the queue outside. Hang with the heavies, that's my motto. It seems to work as I sneak in with the gang and find my usual front-line seat/table. The hkclubbing crew walk through an exit door to who knows where and that's the last I see of them! The place is filling up rapidly. Not surprising as these French nights are getting a great "got-to-be-there" vibe. Voltage, the VJ (who I've failed to credit properly in previous reviews, mainly because no one would tell me his name) is on fine form. Seems to have revamped his visuals extensively. He's on the left, the main CD decks etc are in the middle and a laptop is in pole position on the right. Pierre, one of the main organisers of tonight's show, is getting ready to blow some minds.
His set is freak/orch/electronics with a Gallic flavour. The music ranges from hammered strings to d n' b percussive beats through waves of looping, phasing and pitchshifting to men-in-white-coats-lab-electronics. I can hear Hawkwind, The (BBC) Radiophonic Workshop, Tonto's Expanding Headband in the mix. Weird, but very effective. Like hearing Kraftwerk do Krunk. Or Motorhead mixing Mozart and Motown. Offbeat ideas coalescing, colliding, merging and melting into the mix. Don't know any of the tunes at all, but no matter. It's a beautiful bedlam of beats. The visuals do their part. Ovoid earths spinning, giant hands clapping. 3-D candy striped computer hearts pumping in time. Binocular vision and split screens with wireframe geometric shapes tumbling and turning. And the colours are riots of lysergic neon.

It's near the end of Pierre's set and a lovely lady called Jane(?) asks what I'm writing as I've managed to pique the interest of Stephane and David, the Belgian brothers who are 2MDJ's and Soulwax. I'm invited into the VIP lounge and have a pleasant chat with Stephane (a fellow beardie!). I tell him not to get worried if not many people dance. It's a smallish club and getting very crowded and most big gigs I've been to in HK never have more than 30% dancing at any one time. The people who want to see this gig are pretty much already inside (although reports indicate a large crowd is gathering outside as well). I meet Kiwi Matt, who is clued up on 2MDJ's back-catalogue and helps me with the odd song now and then. The champagne is a babbly-bubbly bonus. It's near 0100 and the big screen comes down as the boys prepare to play.

It's manic on stage as Stephane and David start their set. Pierre is videoing it. DJ No:Mad is next to him, along with 6-7 cuties. Matt and I are just off stage with a good view. Ladies are dancing on the catwalk at the front of the stage. 2MDJ's play an excellent eclectic mix, grounded in rock rhythms (although they're mostly electronic). Here's a snippet of Bowie's "Rebel, Rebel" over a thunderous d n' b beat. Cartoon squelches of sleazy electronica bleep and burp in and out of the mix. There are Duane Eddy cybertwang guitar riffs and 80's robotic keyboards leavened with hints of electro-disco. Matt tells me on a good night, you can expect to hear Pseudo Echo, Husker Du, The Ramones and The Clash all mashed up. Sure enough, a section of "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash is dropped within minutes of his prediction. Stephan and David are speedy as well. They play about 2-3 minutes each, or about 3 tunes before swapping places. From where I'm sitting, I can see a phenomenal amount of knob twiddling, lever flicking and sliding faders. FX buttons are punched. The whole performance is a hyper-kinetic, but controlled ballet. I'm impressed and I'm about to get even more so...

It's about halfway through their 2-hour show. The front ten rows are going mental. Cecile, who is Pierre's wife, hands David a CD cover from an anonymous fan near the front. He's just come off duty and is sorting through his CD holdall case for his next selections. He's given the CD to sign and promptly stops searching to write a small message. No super-ego vibe like "Don't-bother-me-now-I've-only-got-87-seconds-to-find-my-tunes-and-get-back-on-the-decks". No super-ego looks of disbelief like he's been asked to write an autograph in his own phlegm. No, he signs (a fellow leftie!), puts it down for Stephane to do likewise, finds his CD's and returns to the mixer, pretty much on the beat. Stephane is equally gracious a few moments later. He signs, hands it to Cecile who gives it back to the anonymous punter. That was very classy and cool, guys. A little vignette, but very telling. For me, it elevated my enjoyment. The free champagne helped of course....

About 80% of the tunes have passed me by, but I do recognise a few. A great remix of "Out Of Space" by The Prodigy slams into a re-working of "Emerge" by FisherSpooner. There was a little tease sample of "Sweet Dreams" by The Eurhythmics and a slightly longer blast of "Don't You Want Me" by Human League. A little later is the old psyche-punk song "I Can Only Give You Everything" I have versions of this at home by Naz Nomad/Nightmares (aka The Damned) and The Chocolate Watch Band. Can't quite work out who's singing. David tells me later that it's Van (the Man) Morrison/Them. Jawdropping stuff. Some of the vocals are almost helium. Alvin and the Chipmunks go to a rave. Matt tells me the boys are giving their back catalogue a real pummelling tonight. All too soon, it ends.

No:Mad has taken over the DJ decks. His set includes a slightly different version of "Out of Space" with a sort of cockernee vibe to the vocals. He's a good friend/protege of Pierre and his set falls neatly between Pierrre's way-outness and 2MDJ's arena-friendly sound.

No:Mad is a bit more prog-trance with interesting electronics and his set grows smoothly. Overall, an excellent night and you can colour me French for future monthly gigs.

As I leave Volar, I'm thinking about the rumours that Clockenflap will do another big show in November. On the strength of this show, I can see them as late night headliners, no problem. How about it guys? Maybe you can bring Soulwax along as well? Double the fun. In closing, I'd like to say it was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you both. Hope you enjoyed the CD's I slipped you. Here's to next time in HK. Be like an alligator sandwich and make it snappy. Until then....

Review by Nick L.


Photos of the night can be found here:


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