What an awesome night! THE FRINGE CLUB was filled with eager live music fans ready to watch four enthusiatic bands. Thank you to Moses, the sound engineer and to the wonderful staff of the Fringe Club. Thanks to Bacardi for providing the refreshment to the bands and audience! Thanks to Aaron for the photos. Thanks to our reviewers: Dan & Calvin. Thanks to Bay for the awesome artwork. BIG round of applause for the team members working so hard that night: Shaun and Ken. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys.
嗰晚真係好開心！THE FRINGE CLUB 現場填滿咗好多準備好睇四隊滿懷熱誠嘅樂隊表演嘅熱情音樂迷。多謝Moses，我哋嘅音響工程師兄，同埋超正嘅Fringe Club員工！多謝Bacardi為樂隊同觀眾提供飲品！多謝Aaron為我哋影相，多謝我哋嘅評論家Dan同Calvin。多謝Bay嘅出色藝術設計。要大力鼓掌俾當晚好努力嘅團隊成員：Shaun同Ken。冇你哋，我哋一定唔可以咁順利完成呢個活動。
❤️ Chris B xx
It’s Starting to Rain
If ever she goes
Joya is an upcoming singer-songwriter with a few songs under her belt and is finalising her debut EP which is slated for release pretty imminently.
On the night Joya played an acoustic set with the help of one additional guitarist: I am going to get the only major criticism out of the way, and that is the playing. While she was excellent on the slow songs, on some of the faster songs her strumming was a little messy in places, and I somehow felt that with 2 guitars, she probably could have made the backing a little more interesting with more fills and descants (although on the how I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it). While writing the review, I went to the trouble of checking out the few tracks she had put online and I would recommend that she considers playing live with a full band…
Moving on to the good things, for a start Joya has a beautiful voice which is particularly suited for her genre of music (folk/pop), and she used it extremely effectively in expressing her music, drawing her audience into her world. Her songs were mainly on subjects which were clearly important to her life, judging by the heart-felt and soulful lyrics, which, together with her voice, punched a hole straight through my heart, which is no mean feat given that I consider myself a very “technical” listener – I would say she managed to mesmerise her audience on the night.
In conclusion, Joya’s set was thoroughly enjoyable and an excellent choice to open the show, and I eagerly await the release of her debut EP.
* There’s No Future
* Wild Eyes
* In The Name Of
* Out Of The Mountain Of Despair
* The Farthest I Can Get
* Dead Souls
* The End of Time
Deer mx is an electo-rock outfit which has been around for a while and which has graced the stages Clockenflap as well as other festivals both home and abroad.
The set on the night was some pretty intense industrial rock, trance-inducing in places. I was pretty convinced that, playing immediately after Joya, the audience would be absolutely shell-shocked, however, Deer mx managed to get the crowd up and dancing, so definitely kudos there for their ability to include the audience as well as the infectiousness of their music.
I have been catching Deer mx since their early days, but due to the COVID meltdown I have not been seeing them live – and in this few years the changes have been astounding – the lead singer’s voice has matured into a very strong, full and confident sound, which added a nice dark touch very appropriate for their music and subjects, which tended towards world and social issues. The addition of a drummer made their music much fuller and took it to a new level compared to their earlier shows.
All in all a very enjoyable set and I was very happy to see how they have matured… they are definitely going places.
1. Intro Opening
5. Sweet Dream
I think this is the third time I’ve seen these guys, and each time I’m increasingly blown away by their ability. Without so much as a “hello”, the band launch into their first track, a tune with power, melody and fluency in equal measure. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Danielle Leung wields her lilac Telecaster with great aplomb, and immediately – visually as well as musically – wins over the crowd. But wait! It’s actually just a musical amuse bouche, an appetiser of sorts.
She then sweetly thanks everyone for being there before the band dive into the first track proper – ‘西區小說’. ‘Math rock’ gets a bit of a bad rep in these parts, but the way these guys inject such passion and panache turns it into a completely different kettle of fish. For sure there’s some element of complex rhythmical timing going on, and Metallica it ain’t, but this stuff rocks, man! The combined dynamic is exquisite as well, it’s as if they are joined by a musical umbilical cord, such is their near supernatural understanding. And yet it’s so damn melodic, all underpinned by Dan’s sweet yet feisty vocals. Kit Yan, on lead guitar, is a superb player, understated, technical, melodic and never puts a musical foot wrong. Thomas Wong on bass is equally talented, Ken Poon on drums provides the perfect level of rhythmical accompaniment.
Next track ‘流光’ offers a lovely syncopated intro and near Canto-pop style verse which yet rises above that genre to offer something infinitely more original and interesting. Normally I’d be drawing all kinds of musical comparisons, but on this (rare) occasion words fail me. Sublime.
‘咫尺之遙’ Dan introduces by saying, “I wrote this for my best friends … and they are all here!” It turns out that more specifically the track was penned in honour of a close pal who moved to the UK. Regardless, cue more fluid and fluent playing, in Cantonese, so I can only catch the odd word, but I assume full of poignant meaning. Certainly I can hear the emotion, which is brilliantly conveyed through Danielle and Kit’s chiming twin attack. It’s almost symphonic in the way it glides through several movements before returning to the opening motif, like an Olympic gymnast pulling off a series of complex spins and pikes before touching down for an effortless landing. It’s a perfect ten from Judge Dan! Anyway that’s way too much mixing of metaphors, I’m giving myself a headache.
“This is our only song in English,” announces Danielle, introducing ‘Sweet Dream’. That’s fine by us, music overcomes all language barriers, right, compadres in rock? A typically gorgeous vocal meets equally sublime twin guitars, have a three-way, fall in love and produce a divinely melodic offspring. Never too heavy, yet always with substance, I hear traces of bands like The Cardigans, but only in terms of how well everything slots together.
Last track already? It seems like they only just started. ‘雙失少女’ has a bit of a talky intro, but I can’t make much out except something about time and the future, two things they have in spades I reckon. Either way, there’s not much to criticise here. It’s like they just appeared, fully formed, like Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, emerging from her oyster shell. And indeed, headliner Maryjane herself draws mythological comparisons after the show, referencing Sailor Moon in terms of Danielle’s image. I’m not quite sure about that, but there is a certain cutesy anime element for sure, which definitely doesn’t hurt the onstage persona. More importantly, it’s fun, fresh, sweet and exciting. I’d like to hear something strong and anthemic from them, but I suspect the best is yet to come. Lovely show.
– Dan Creffield
MARYJANE & THE GANG
Song Of Joy
Third World Hunger Blues
The aforementioned headliners, Maryjane and the Gang take to the stage, with MJ cutting quite a figure with her leather miniskirt, huge hoop earrings and distinctively vintage-looking Gibson Marauder guitar.
Accompanied by bassist Alex Bacunawa, lead guitarist Simon Lee, drummer Carl Hollingsworth and Anthony Brophy guesting on sax, those who don’t quite know what to expect musically (including this reviewer), well, really didn’t know what to expect! But as soon as Maryjane, an experienced musical campaigner with a strong pedigree in performing covers and original tracks (this is an all-original set), hits her first note, we could tell we were in for an great hour of 50s and 60s style songs (kind of, as you’ll see). ‘Be Still’ has a great old-school, crooning feel to it, with a lovely, light vocal from MJ, taking us back to a golden age of songwriting. We’re away.
Before the following track, ‘Song Of Joy’ MJ asks if any of the musicians present has a capo. “Those who don’t know might think it sounds like some kind of contraception,” she jokes, drawing mystified looks from the crowd. Suitably installed (inserted?) on her guitar, she announces the song is in Filipino, and that there’s no direct translation for the title, but it’s something like, “when men look for creative ways to win a woman’s heart.” That’s called begging in my book, but MJ manages to turn it into three minutes of accomplished, polished country and western. Again, a real blast from the past. She’s got something of Shirley Bassey’s rich vibrato (the singer of the James Bond theme ‘Goldfinger’ kids, look it up, it’s great). Anthony provides superb soloing, as does Simon.
“We were described as ‘eclectic’ on the poster,” she says, introducing ‘My Bliss’. “I wanted this to sound grungy when I wrote it.” I don’t think any of us saw that coming. So is it grunge? Well, probably not as Kurt Cobain would understand the term, but it has a slightly harder edge. Grunge meets 70s ballad? Not sure, but it’s certainly a very cultured sound that really grows on you. Sax reappears trading licks with some fluent guitar playing, and MJ’s effortless scat singing to bring things to a lovely conclusion.
Track five ‘Paraparaan’ has a very different feel, with an almost funk-metal RHCP type intro, before gliding into more Tina Turner (RIP) style R&B with some seriously tasty guitar playing. It’s again in Filipino, with the musicality of the language working well with the melody. For ‘Ating Simulan’ there’s more of a tribal intro, with a darker vibe, fitting MJ’s imperative for us to “come together for Mother Nature” (at least that’s what I think she said). There’s plenty more of that superb guitar, this time with a Hendrix wah thing going on.
Next track ‘Third World Hunger Blues’ MJ announces she wrote with a friend back in the Philippines, and returns to a more timeless 50s/60s vibe. Syncopated toms kick things off, with a distinctive, almost yodelling style vocal. Super catchy, you can imagine this with big band backing, and just to further muddy the musical waters, it’s again got a bit of C&W influence, and Eddie Van Halen-esque soloing from the talented Simon. While this latter contribution doesn’t quite pull it into this century, it does give it a slightly more contemporary feel.
While we’re on the subject of the ‘C’ word, are Maryjane and the Gang just a little tame after the more contemporary rock and metal of the previous bands? Sure, but it also has undoubted charm, and the audience seemed to love it. An enjoyable and super fun show from an accomplished group of performers.
– Dan Creffield
Photos by Aaron Michelson.
Poster by Bay Leung.