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.