Live review from Rustic #3
Putting on an Irish flat hat and armed with a set of Cantonese songs, Ewan Ho made his Underground debut at Rustic #3 by impressing the audience with a series of songs that went from heartfelt to melancholic, soothing to humorously vernacular. For the first half of the set, it dived into a rather deep and heavy mood as it revolved around the theme of tiring city life (although lyrically they all tried to maintain a positive outlook of life). Starting with an easy breezy tune of 為什麼, Ho instantly established his cityfolk music style with a philosophical intervention. A sympathetic and honest voice spells out the existential questions in the minds of every hardworking citizens, asking for reasons why we suffer. But somehow the soothing acoustic strumming managed to wash away our weariness from life and work. Following however the second song 給你唱一首歌took an even more sentimental approach to enticed the audience. This Mandarin lullaby created an incredibly comforting mood and induced a familiar feeling that one can almost name its influences from some Taiwanese folk singers.
The minor chord progression and vocal variations of捨給你 seemed to remark a strain of melancholic struggle too. But moving on to the next half of the set, things got more upbeat and spiced up, especially in Donkepele and 痴線. Even though the song could be singing about the sorrow of being a Hong Konger, plus the fact that Ho was performing in front of a non-Cantonese speaking group; he nonetheless successfully caught their attention with the funky elements of not only its jumpy rhythm that brings the crowd to clap along, but also the Guangzhou dialect (Donkepele which means take it easy) and the mild swearing in痴線that intrigued and humored everyone in the room.
Lastly, Ewan wrapped up the set with another meaningful and moving song called 等待 which was written as a tribute to all suffering African people. He surprised the crowd by pulling out a very special Yunnan musical instrument hulusi and accompanied it with a steadfast djembe layer. The occasional Afrikaans phrases and instruments’ timbre immediately made the song sounds like an African folktale that conveys a certain helplessness and homesick sensation, causing the crowd to wave along with their cellphones’ light on. One couldn’t help but realize its similarities with Beyond’s famous song光輝歲月 which also has a similar theme. The urge for inner freedom and easiness from this country style wandering musician somehow gives him a mixed vibe reminiscent of deceased former vocalist 黃家駒from Beyond and the Hong Kong cityfolk/ country singer Albert Au歐瑞強. Despite some technical issues such as feedbacks and a bit of a gloomy start, it was still a charismatic set to start the night.
– Prada Leung