Live Review from The Underground’s 17th Year Anniversary Party
1. (Out On The) Dance Floor (Get What You Ask For)
2. The Day The Earth Stood Still
3. Show Us Your Soul
4. A Week In The Life
6. Freedom Now
7. Glam Slam
For those new to The Sleeves, and there shouldn’t be many, they’re a classic British Rock band, UK-born, HK-formed. To call them a regular is an understatement. They’ve been around for a decade, have two studio albums, a remix-collaboration and have done literal worldwide tours. For the die-hard classic rock fan, The Sleeves have got infectious melodies, propulsive rhythm and a die-hard sexual spirit. For the more modern connoisseur, well, not very much. Their previous albums Arcade Rock and Vaudeville are relatively experimental with Nintendocore references and a literal band of DJs collaborating on Vaudeville, but really, The Sleeves aren’t around for the excitement of virtual sound effects. They’re classic for a reason; their music is timeless, their lyrics universal and their personalities unchanging over the years, just as the spirit of rock.
While I’ll admit I found some of their recordings a bit dated in its execution, seeing them live was a completely different story. Despite being the most … senior band of the night (sorry guys) … they were as lively as could be. Every song was tight, flawless and full of energy; uncomplicated but perfectly executed. Their audience interaction was likewise natural and full of whimsical British banter that a lot of modern bands are lacking. There wasn’t the same level of theatricality and experimentation that younger bands have, but that’s not really necessary when every note you play exudes time tested experience. Their lyrics are similarly timeless. Freedom Now has really complex lyrical metaphors which perhaps four years ago when I first heard it, seemed needlessly critical, even cliché in its judgements but it’s aged like a well-oiled democratic system – one which, I assume, we have in abundance.
Personally, reviewing the Sleeves at UG’s 17 is a bit of a homecoming. I reviewed Deliverance in 2017 when I first started writing for The Underground and would later, just before COVID, work as a soundman at The Wanch, of which Keith was heavily involved with. The crowd that came to support The Sleeves were the Wanch crowd – What a small world Hong Kong is and what a smaller world our original music scene is. We’re all in this together really, is what I’ve learned. But how many more can fit into fit in the shoes of The Sleeves?
It seems that Keith and the band have similar sentiments, and perhaps similar worries. The experience of The Sleeves means a much closer, personal relationship with The Underground. It seemed that Keith could not stop thanking Chris B and The Underground for nurturing a safe yet exciting environment for local, original music to flourish. It’s on this hope that we continue to hinge, and continue to rock – the music and the boat.
– Cyril Ma
Live Review from Underground 118
1. The Menace
2. Rumble (Inside My Head)
3. Freedom Now
4. The Horror
6. Never Let Me Go
7. (Out On The) Dance Floor (Get What You Ask For)
The signals were clear: indoor shades and bootcut denim. The Sleeves had arrived to rock! Playing songs from their forthcoming album, the four-piece kicked off Underground 118. “This is the most British band I’ve ever seen,” remarked a bystander during the show. Indeed, the band’s sound is a melting pot of Britrock influences from the past 30 years, paying tribute to the great traditions of guitar pop. After the Kasabian vocals and Richard Hawley vibe of opener The Menace, the amps were turned up for the punk Rumble (Inside My Head), with singer Keith Goodman’s shouty “I’m on a knife edge” lyrics. The Horror recalled Blur with its There’s No Other Way intro, while the influences of The Enemy, Oasis, Stone Roses and Travis could all be heard amid the bolshy riffing and ballsy singing.
Girl began with a cool drums-and- bass solo before two revving guitars joined in. The song allowed drummer Matt Coleman to shine – his light touch delivering a big rock sound as the song exploded with bluesy, jagged riffs. Pete Gordon’s clever guitarwork on Never Let Me Go was Parklife meets Shoot The Runner, while joyful, singalong closer Dance Floor finally got the crowd moving its catchy, room-filling chorus. The Sleeves are unlikely to entrance the hipster crowd, but they delivered a set full of feel-good rock ‘n’ roll cheer that will keep them on top of the list of the city’s favourite live acts.
– El Jay
Live review from Underground 100:
1. Sex Museum
2. Thursday Song
3. Totalitarian Love Song
4. Walk With the Devil
5. Mirror (with Ivy Fernie)
It’s always so hard for me to review The Sleeves because I like to think that they are my mates! Except Keith, who is my Uncle Keith and my music career advisor. One can’t befriend the staff. I’m always going to be biased, but I do legitimately think that they are a good honest rock’n’roll band who write songs from the layman’s heart. I asked Philip from the band ‘Lone Star Radio’, who was watching The Sleeves with me, what he thought. He accurately answered “They have that Brit-Rock vibe with the good songs going on, I like them … I BELIEVE them” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
The Sleeves are another band who have grown a lot, I have seen them in quite a few incarnations, and I feel like they have found a good place with this current line up and role responsibility.
Pete, the band’s new lead guitarist wears sunglasses on stage. If you know me well, you know I f****** hate guitarists who wear sunnies on stage, IF… IF…they can’t back it up. My hat’s off to Pete, he played with attitude, flair and had great lead guitar work, I forgot that I initially had beef with him and became an instant fan. His riffs and solos bring that little bit more of an edge to The Sleeves that I previously think was missing. This is saying a lot as I was a big fan of previous axe man Bee. I also have decided that Uncle Keith is the right front man for the band, and that they have a great rhythm section with bassist AG possibly being one of the most fun band members to watch in HK.
The Sleeves recently released their debut CD. You should definitely pick it up. Now.
— Timmy Gunn (Shotgun Politics)
Message from The Sleeves about CD3 Release Party A:
Bee It’s always great to see a packed Hong Kong bar, filled with enthusiastic music fans, rocking out to Hong Kong music.
Keith It was a great atmosphere and a great night. The sound system at The Cavern was fantastic and everyone was getting into the music. In fact it was the perfect way to celebrate the CD and our first year with The Underground. Here’s to many more !
Live Review from Underground 92:
1. Sex Museum
3. The Killer
5. Totalitarian Love Song
6. Space Dogs
The “loonies” proceeded to take the stage, but like some of the best acts they made you wait (okay, that was mainly because they had some technical difficulties, but they didn’t seem too cut up about it, so…) When they began playing, the numerous Stooges comparisons I’d read in relation to them seemed to be appropriate – there was a fuzz aplenty (Big Muff was king), akin to the late, great Mr. Ron Asheton. But dare I say, they bear an even closer (much less obvious) kinship with the New York Dolls of yore. The dynamic between the two axmen was reminiscent of that between Syl Sylvain and Johnny Thunders on stage (it also helped that Special K’s guitar sounded remarkably like Thunders’…oh, and that he was wearing what seemed to be a black skirt. Very fetching.)
Now, despite there not being their usual hoi polloi, it would be an understatement to say that they really got the crowd going. Certainly, the singer’s willingness to don the undies (which had been through a torrid time, being buffeted around constantly on and off stage), and dancing in the crowd to face the band, and get the audience singing along, helped their cause. By the 3rd song’s end Special K was persuaded to take off his t-shirt, revealing the “skirt” to be a black dress (not exactly Audrey Hepburn, but not far from it either). There were jungle beats scattered around in some songs, with some remarkably versatile moods to each song reminiscent of Mink DeVille at their peak. Stockholm in particular, had an anthemic chorus (with shades of The Ramones’ Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.) We were treated to Space Dogs, apparently written the previous night, followed by the closer, Mirror, sung by their (very good indeed) second voice, and all too soon, it was over.
Live Review from Underground 80:
The Sleeves is a five-piece band with the signature of Iggy Pop/Stooges written all over them. They said it themselves on their own myspace. But it’s true, from the muscle tone, the guitar fuzz to the simplicity of their tunes, it’s obvious they love this sound, which is very Stooges-feel. Nonetheless, it’s all a matter of delivery. Frontman Turkish was a dripping piece of energetic hard rod with the voice of a rock and roll hero, he moved around, dance with their fans, and took off his shirt “as a tribute to Iggy Pop”. One interesting fact about the evening is every band brought a huge pile of fans. With The Sleeves, we had fans wearing home-made band T’s, and cheering on for every song, which clearly gave each band more feedback to drive them harder. Nice. Guitarist Special K wore a white dress and a Thai ethnic headwear, which apparently he wore before in other gigs. He went on to sing a rather poppy tune about love. The Sleeves prepared a long set that first ended with the very lovable “Sex Museum” with the typical Stooges simple chords, and gave back to the crowd with an encore called “Sex & Violence” when Turkish got the whole house chanting sex (women) and violence (men) to his signal. This is rock and roll plus entertainment at its best.