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: