Live review from 16th Anniversary Party:
2. Les amants de St Jean
3. Le poinconneur
4. La Carioca
6. Femme des années 80
8. Take on me (prend sur moi)
9. Sweet Dreams (reve doux)
10.Les Copains d’abord
I tell people I like being fashionably late, but the real reason for my lateness is that I’m bad at timekeeping. My lack of ability to read a watch properly is made worse when the band starts playing early which means that instead of watching some twenty band members set up, I was hearing oompah tubas from afar.
Interesting. A brass band was not what I expected. Unique doesn’t even come close to describing Le Groupe Electrogene. In a city where street marches (for celebration) and marching bands are essentially non-existent; knowing that a group of fun loving, dancing tuba players exists makes me more than happy.
Le Groupe was formed a couple of years ago and originally branded themselves as “the ultimate side project of a pack of homesick Frenchies who longed for their homeland’s ‘ferias’, or festivals, with their boisterous atmosphere and their famous marching bands.” In true Hong Kong fashion “Frenchies” doesn’t just describe moustached men in berets; but all of the ethnicities and cultures considered ‘French’. White, Black, Latino, Asians – Fraternity among all races put on stage playing trumpets, wearing purple wigs and strumming Hello Kitty Guitars.
The band is not without its problems, though the problems by no means outweigh the massive amount of fun to be had with that many performers in the room! The instrumental balance is odd; far too few saxophones to properly balance the trumpets and there are five percussionists but not many percussion instruments. The singer also looked a bit stressed, but he was working the audience, nonetheless.
To tell you the truth, Le Groupe made me incredibly nostalgic. Seeing a bunch of musicians enjoying themselves playing jazzy tunes on stage, running around the audience and generally having a good time made me remember the impromptu jazz jam nights I used to take part in. That sort of musical comradery is sorely missing in Hong Kong; rock bands are very set in their numbers – you can’t have too many guitars (why not? Just cause), but with a brass/marching band? As many as you want! Percussion, going briefly back to that, is great for including more musicians who just want to have fun because you can double up, and double up, and double up without any problems!
Ultimately, music is something to be shared and enjoyed and what better way to start the evening than a massive brass band playing roaring sing-along French, English and Italian songs?
As they say in (French) Louisiana – Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!
– Cyril Ma