Live review from FWD Mellow Yellow Music Festival
Yellow (Coldplay cover)
Down (James cover)
A Grace Disguised
Making Out to Jobim
Heroes (Alesso cover)
Always Remember Us This Way (Lady Gaga cover)
The Busking Stage’s headlining band attracted a crowd of fans befitting a top-billed act. Opening with a “tweaked” cover of Coldplay’s tearjerker Yellow (“look at how they make char siu“), SPAM embraced the fun and casual feeling in the air that night at the festival. Charismatic frontman Aaron Pan served up some of his infamous banter, cheered on by a crowd held rapt to his every word. As a cheeky nod to his day job at FWD – Mellow Yellow’s sponsor – he even dropped in a few well-timed jokes about insurance packages on stage without feeling cheesy.
But there were moments of heartfelt intensity too: especially during original song A Grace Disguised, which deals with loss, as well as a wry take on consumerism with Material Man, and romantic self-deprecation on Making Out to Jobim. The energy the band brought radiated to the crowd and drew in new fans who had just finished watching R.O.O.T’s slot on the main stage. When it was time to say goodnight, the crowd wouldn’t let SPAM slip away without an encore: they chose to sign off stylishly with the upbeat Heroes, made famous by Alesso, and Lady Gaga’s Always Remember Us This Way. It was, as Chris B summarised: “A fantastic end to a wonderful day of music and fun.”
– Rosie Chan
1. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (Coldplay cover)
2. War Within My Soul
3. A Grace Disguised
4. Making Out To Jobim
5. Because Of You
6. Letting Go
7. Material Man
8. Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars cover)
Encore: Radioactive (Imagine Dragons cover)
“We’re the filling of this threesomes sandwich,” grinned Spam vocalist Aaron Pan, greeting the room at his band’s second Underground appearance. Decked out in aviator shades (inspired by Bono) and a T-shirt bearing the logo of the eponymous canned meat product, the ebullient frontman brought a winning charisma and charm to a challenging performance. It was hard to pinpoint exactly why ropey opener Every Tear is a Teardrop (a Coldplay cover) was so jarring. It could have had something to do with the out of time combination of keyboard-guitar-cajon, or the distracting conversations being had within the crowd. It’s not often that fans gain attention at The Underground for the wrong reasons, but a lively atmosphere among Spam’s supporters occasionally diverted attention from the performance. Fans shouted above the music and a number of them had their backs turned to the stage during most of previous act Empty. The babble even continued into the beginning of Spam’s set, which was, at times, barely audible over their own fans. That aside, there was plenty to enjoy in Spam’s entertaining show.
Spam – aka “Solomon’s Porch Awesome Musicians”, named after the church the band are active members within – showed a knack for translating their faith and its teachings into relatable tunes with emotional heft. A War Within My Soul, for example, drew from the theme of resisting temptation and clinging on to hope during challenging times. A Grace Disguised, introduced as “a metaphor for how we medicate pain in our life”, was inspired by a man who lost in family in a car crash and suffered from repetitive nightmares. The song contained a deep message about “facing the darkness”, which paired with anthemic drumming that drew from OneRepublic’s playbook.
Far from uptight or preachy, the band threw in plenty of laugh-out-loud jokes that kept things light and fun. Making Out To Jobim was inspired by Pan’s wife Priscilla. “When people meet us, they wonder ‘how the hell did you do that?’" Tear-jerking Keane-style keys heightened the sentiment, while Pan’s laid-bare vocals gave the song a starkness that echoed Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. The frontman, whose genuineness and optimism compared to Ryan Tedder, looked as though he were about to spill over with emotion introducing Because of You, a ballad dedicated to the couple’s son. The absence of a second guitarist made the composition seem thin: a rather trite Wonderwall-esque chord progression fell flat next to hesitant cajon patters and repetitive piano. Regardless, the music took a backseat to Pan’s heartfelt, yet corny lyrics, as he sang, “I’ll help you become the man I could not be … Because of you, our two has become three” delivered in an Isaac Slade (The Fray) monotone. Material Man took a swipe at the city’s consumerist culture: “I’ve been in Hong Kong 10 years but one thing that saddens me is how obsessed people are with money … you can’t take material wealth beyond the grave,” Pan lamented. A lack of chord and rhythmic variation made the Madonna-inspired song feel a little dry, but some intricate piano work provided some welcome variation.
“We do this thing where we say it’s the last song but really it’s not. You cheer and we come back for the encore,” said Pan, introducing a cover of Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are. Gentle keyboard melodies brought something new to the track, but the marching cajon-thumping drumbeat felt intrusive and ruined the mix. Sure enough, the crowd obliged Pan’s cheeky request, and stamped and hollered for an encore. Another cover – this time Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive – turned out to be the tightest and best-rehearsed song of the set. Atmospheric piano met varied, nuanced drumming, and Pan’s voice was the steadiest it had been all night. While it was clear that Spam isn’t at its juiciest as a threesome, the band brought something new to The Underground and left an impact with Pan’s infectious personality, his unflinching takes on heavy subject matter, and a collection of sincere songs.
– El Jay
Live review from Uncovered: Not your usual cover bands 原創翻唱音樂會:
1. We Are Young – Fun
2. Titanium – David Guetta
3. High and Dry – Radiohead
4. Numb – Linkin Park
5. All These Things that I’ve Done – The Killers
6. Big Bad World – Kodaline
7. End of the Road – Boyz II Men
他們先以耳熟能詳的We Are Young開場，兩枝結他都作rhythm guitar，伴著十分和諧的和音，讓人聽著十分舒服，也和原唱感覺不一樣。主唱有著高亢和較尖的嗓音，相對和唱的聲線沒有那麼響亮，就算唱高三度和音也不會搶，也因此聽著十分舒服。總的來說，SPAM二人把兩枝結他的工作分配得還不錯，也成功製造不同層次，從觀眾的反應也知道他們的投入程度，玩cover的好處可能就是大家都熟悉那些歌曲，容易湊成全場大合唱的感動場面，尤其在他們當晚最後一首歌End of the Road時，用大合唱來完結是蠻感動的。不過，美中不足的，應該還是假音的方面，若能再稍稍的穩定一些整個表現會更完美。但對筆者來說，他們絕對還是一隊頗會表演的組合，期待下一次聽他們唱原創歌曲吧。
– Sidick Lam
The charming Aaron and Nate come together on stage as SPAM, an acoustic act that plays the poppiest songs around – starting with “We Are Young” by Fun, the band got the crowd singing through their set, playing popular hits like “Titanium” by David Guetta and even hazarding a very different approach to “Numb” by Linkin Park that was very unique. Aaron’s peppy attitude and charm with Nate’s unique voice came and brought the crowd swaying and dancing together with almost a club atmosphere. Throughout their set, Aaron used his energetic character to get the crowd pumped up, playing with the Singha Beer balloon while Nate busted out riff after riff with beautiful vocals accompanying his partner. The crowd interaction from Aaron and explosive talent from Nate was a very fitting dynamic, SPAM definitely felt like the band that you’d hire at your party to get everyone in a good mood.
The highlight of their set was the crowd putting their soul into “End of the Road” by Boyz to Men, a passionate ending to their hit song set. SPAM is definitely set to be a well-known band thanks to their charm and wit, and ability to get the crowd belting along with them while they bust out acoustic versions of hit after hit. If you like to party, then you should definitely look out for SPAM playing near you.
– Sherman Leung