We held our second showcase of bands performing original interpretations of cover songs. Huge thanks to all four acts who performed with passion & gorgeous song selections. Big thanks to Carr for his amazing work on sound at Orange Peel & of course to The Underground team. Gratitude to our reviewers for their dedication. Let’s do this cover thing again next year!
我們在Orange Peel 舉辦第二次原創式經典歌曲音樂表演。非常感謝4位很有心思的演出者。好道謝Carr同一班Orange Peel嘅同事！當場重有The Underground嘅幫手，同埋評論者嘅致力！希望下年再度舉辦！
love Chris B xx
1. Leave a Light On – Belinda Carlisle
2. Use Somebody – Kings of Leon
3. Show Me Heaven – Maria McKee
4. Let’s Go – Original song w Jon on drums
5. 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
6. Here I Go Again – Whitesnake
Laura Kenny, is not new on the local underground music scene. Having spent countless hours gigging around Hong Kong, playing a combo of covers and originals, she has chocked up some performance mileage that has honed a guitar tone and voice that can only be described as brilliant, sweet and so powerful at the same time. All she needs to get you moving was her voice and guitar.
Opening with an upbeat acoustic version of Belinda Carlisle’s Leave a Light On, was spot on introduction to what she could do. I imagined if Ms. Carlisle was to ever do an MTV unplugged it would sound exactly like how Laura Kenny did it. A combination of energy and a bit of groove thrown in with her playing made this a lively and laid-back start to the evening.
With a bit of banter aside, she launched into a ridiculously soulful rendition of Use Somebody by Kings of Leon. I have to say the sound guy nailed her mix, as it was just the right combination of reverb on her voice and guitar in the house. Having heard the Kings of Leon version too many times to mention this was a welcome change to the over produced and bit too shouty vocals from the original.
90s music is surely making a comeback and Laura Kenny’s cover of Maria McKee’s Show Me Heaven is a good reminder that people just don’t write songs that good no more. It was a great song choice, as it showcases Kenny’s full range as a musician. She’s got this song in a Tom Petty/Melissa Etheridge vibe and her vocal styling coupled with her guitar playing and that hot Scottish accent made it so enjoyable. I think the song wasn’t as familiar in the room, but no matter, as every single person still hung on her ever word and chord.
Though the night was supposed to be all about cover songs, a few bands were able to sneak in a few originals. Let’s Go marked Laura’s own foray into original music territory and a slight tonal deviation from the evening, as she brought on a drummer, who happened to be the producer of her forthcoming album. It was a super cool track, a bit of Jack Johnson in its vibe with a bit more energy and edge. The drums did help bring a bit more dynamics to the track and makes me curious to hear the full song when her album is released.
After that though, it was back to the covers and arguable one of the more popular songs of the set. Maybe it was the Scottish connection, or the ridiculously large contingent she brought with her, but her version of 500 miles by The Proclaimers was definitely a crowd pleaser. She slowed it down, and turned it into a ballad. Almost to a point where you felt her singing from the perspective of a person who lost a partner and wished he/she could do the things they sung about for him/her. Kinda like how Bon Jovi’s “Always” goes, without the overwrought lyrics and ever emphasised vibrato.
For her last song, she unleashed on us a very acoustic rendition of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again. Normally a rousing 80s track, But armed with only a acoustic, she did her Laura Kenny thing and turned into a up tempo folk song. Without all the electric guitars and drums, it took almost all the verse for some people to figure out the song, but for the few of us who knew the song, I could see were all singing along.
The local people who didn’t know who she was when she started but by the end of her set were fans of her. I know I was and am looking forward that album and to see what she will do in the near future.
– Jon Lee
Coco and the Beasts
1. 20th Century Boy
2. Bang Bang
4. I’m afraid of Americans
If Laura Kenny was acoustic music to the 10th power, then Coco and the Beasts was the complete and utter opposite. They made it apparent with their use of the intro to Smells Like Teen Spirit as their soundcheck. Also the fact that their lead singer was an amazingly tall Drag Queen in a kimono and high heeled boots was a pretty good indication that this is no ordinary cover band.
Opening with 20th Century Boy was both brilliant and ironic. With Coco singing “Well it’s plain to see you were meant for me, yeah I’m your toy, your 20th century boy” with all her energy, it was hard not to look at the lyrics in a whole new manner. Playing just a tad faster and harder than T.Rex made it a rocking start to their set. They initially already had my attention when Coco walked on stage, but this peaked my interest.
Now I still wasn’t sure what the rest of this set was going to produce. And when she started Nancy Sinatra’s haunting opening of Bang Bang, I was glued to the stage. What came next can only be described as surprisingly awesome. If you’ve ever wanted to wonder how Evanescence would do a goth rock-ish cover of that track, the Beasts helped answer that question. With the rhythm section bouncing in unison I was super into it. But their secret weapon was Lena, a girl rockin’ a mini synth to give the song that little extra dark synthy goth edge. I really didn’t know what hit me, but I certainly liked it.
The third song 紅 (red) (Leslie Cheung cover) took an even darker turn. Although it was sung in Cantonese, you didn’t really need to understand the lyrics to know that the song was a bit angry and dark. If you’ve ever heard Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited this song had a similar vibe. They played a loop on the synth that is similar in it’s tone and darkness to Alanis’ track. It was so dark, so brooding and the halftime drums really added to the doom and gloom. I really have to hand it to these guys as their arrangements really toy with your emotions and change your perceptions of the originals.
It was fitting that their last cover of the night, was a cover of a man who challenged gender stereotypes and, well really changed everything we ever knew or understood about music. David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans is one of my favourite tracks, as it’s just strange and brilliant. He was a genius who made nonconformity popular.
But, back to the music. This was the most standard cover they did without changing anything. They captured the original aggression and fear in the track, and with Coco’s attitude, it was a more than adequate cover of a great great song.
By the way, it’s always funny that after the darkness of every song, Coco is super polite and sweet to everyone as she banters with the place.
With a quick band introduction, they played, 吐息 (which sort of means to sigh), their penultimate song of the night, an original and second Cantonese song of the evening. I’m not normally a huge fan of Chinese songs in English sets, as I feel it does change the mood, but despite my reservations, I really enjoyed this song. If Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse teamed up with Evanescence and released a Canto track, it would be this song. They clearly like their stuff.
Their final song of the night 交誘 (make friends) continued their slow dark theme. It had a very 90s Nine Inch Nails vibe to it. If you closed your eyes you would find yourself asking why Trent Reznor started to singing in Cantonese. But it works, despite Cantonese being such a tonally specific language it just works.
As local cover bands go, they do not get any more interesting than this. As my first experience of Coco and the Beasts, this was quite awesome. I enjoyed their covers and their interpretations of their songs, but I’m more curious to see a set of all their originals.
– Jon Lee
1. One I Love
2. Dani California
3. Best Of You
4. The Fly
5. Can’t Stand Losing You
6. Somebody Told Me
7. Losing My Religion
8. Turning Japanese
9. Whole Lotta Rosie
10.We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Consider Hong Kong’s best cover bands and stalwart rockers Don’t Panic will surely make the list. They do perform originals, but it is their covers of bands like REM and Black Sabbath that have drunken punters roaring down the microphone on Saturday night in Wanchai. The band’s performance at Uncovered Again was testament to the unifying power of a good song everyone knows the words to.
Regular patrons of The Wanch will have heard most of the songs sprinkled into the band’s shows before, but such rousing rock hits never fail to get the room moving. Lead singer John Prymmer was a little under the weather with the flu, but didn’t let a few sniffles get in the way of his legendary, Jagger-esque showmanship as the band ploughed through party-starting anthems and newer classics.
A relentless ball of energy, Prymmer leapt off the stage, ran around the room, and performed sitting on the sofas at the side. He caught a breather when bassist Geoff Wheeler took over the vocals for a more classically-styled take on The Killers’ Somebody Told Me and REM’s beloved Losing My Religion. By the time U2’s The Fly arrived, most of the audience was on their feet and moving ready for Don’t Panic’s take on The Police’s Can’t Stand Losing You and The Vapors’ Turning Japanese.
Well-worn favourites sat alongside rock’s relative newcomers in a fun, often chaotic set of pure rock ‘n’roll spirit. It was business as usual for the rockers, who proved their charm extends beyond Jaffe Road, and that they’re one of the city’s most popular live acts wherever they play.
– El Jay
1. Love Me Two Times.
2. I’m A Woman
3. Message In A Bottle.
4. Is This Love?
5. Ashes To Ashes – Bowie
6. Change Is Gonna Come
7. Spanish Caravan
Local folk duo OYA may have questioned their sound being described as “soul” on the flyer but, whatever the strict definition of the genre, it was hard to deny that their headline performance lacked soulfulness. It oozed from Maryjane Alejo’s rich, warm vocals, spun like silk from Graeme Morris’s nimble fretwork and tumbled from the duo’s cheerful, folky attire – which included a tweed flat cap and snakeskin platform shoes.
After expressing incredulity at being the top-billed act of the night, OYA went on to disprove their own modesty with a thoughtful and emotive set. Though the duo are known for playing with guest musicians from time to time, their Uncovered Again show was a stripped-back and raw ode to the power of the guitar and voice. The duo played to their strengths, delivering simmering, bluesy takes on artists ranging from Peggy Lee to Bob Marley to The Police. A particularly powerful cover of the rocky Message In A Bottle took on a much more haunting, earnest sense of melancholy as Alejo’s quavering voice warmed to fill the room.
OYA’s live performance falls somewhere between Rodrigo y Gabriela and Civil Wars; with the dizzying guitar dexterity of the former, plus the close emotional bond and raconteurial charm of the latter. Songs such as Peggy Lee’s I’m A Woman and Sam Cooke’s Change Is Gonna Come, were lended greater emotional weight in powerful makeovers that made the most of tenderly strummed acoustic chords in symbiosis with intricate noodling on the electric guitar.
The pair relented to encore calls and pulled the song of the night out of the bag: a red-hot rendition of The Doors’ Spanish Caravan. A replica of the original song’s Asturias intro gave classically-trained Morris a chance to fully show off his musical skill, while Alejo’s gorgeous voice brought the evening to a close. A treat to behold from one of the city’s rising-star acts.
– El Jay
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung.