Sunday, August 05, 2007


My neck, back and feet are sore, my lips are parched, severely dehyrated and tired as heck. But it was all worth it so that I could feel like a 20 year-old again!
In the 80s, I never had the chance to watch my rock heroes in live action e.g. U2, Echo & the Bunnymen, Big Country, Simple Minds, Comsat Angels but thanks to the phenomenal set tonight from the Fire Fight, I felt transported back to those heady days. Not that the boys were regressive but they managed to tap into the same vein of passion, verve and authority. Jon, Josh, Iain and Jbarks played as one in a shimmering display of emotive vocals backed by incisive guitarwork and frenetic drumming. With joyful abandon, Josh twisted and turned, his guitar painting imaginary brush strokes in the night air as he provided the focal point for the Fire Fight's sonic thrust. Despite the odd technical hitch, the band was in fine fettle and certainly the highlight of the night. Many in the audience were touched, a memorable performance. Certainly, a young band in ascendancy.
The other main highlight had to be B-Quartet. Certainly one of the most technically accomplished bands in Singapore, they impressed with their unique blend of jazz piano, jaunty pop and guitar rock licks. Again, Shoebox was the one that captured my attention with its balladic introduction culminating in a manic coda that floored all in attendance. Now, instrumental skills are laudable but as long as it does not get in the way of communicative songcraft, it's not a problem. An issue I have with bands like B-Quartet is sometimes they become too intellectual, being too clever and inaccessibility can be the result. In the end, these bands often become musicians' favorites but never quite go beyond that niche. Lack of hooks is the predicament. Now, B-Quartet is obviously influenced by Jeff Buckley but Buckley knew how to sing the blues and had a soulful quality which I believe that B-Quartet would still need to develop... not that B-Quartet isn't a great Singaporean band but I have my reservations.
In between these highlights, we had Giants Must Fall who seemed a little tenative and muted but picked up speed halfway through its set. A little too laidback, they never quite connected with the audience, which to be fair, was rather sparse.
Bismuth is composed of three young men, who appeared kinda dwarfed by the huge stage. Still a work-in-progress, I honestly feel that vocalist/guitarist Flint should concentrate on either vocals or guitars solely because this is seriously getting in the way of Bismuth's performance. I thought the Bismuth track on the Junk CD revealed good promise so I was disappointed by the uneven set.
Malaysia's They Will Kill Us All was a little hard to figure out as their songs tended to be short and ended abruptly, the vocalist sounded like Liam (Oasis) Gallagher singing falshetto and whilst again technically competent, I cannot quite recall any melody that made an impact.
... and so Baybeats 2007 is over... I will be presenting a summary review soon enough... once I recover from the rigours of the last four nights of non-stop indie rock music...


Anonymous said...

good review and comments.. though i have to disagree on the B quartet part..think the y're good and definitely reachable to the masses.

Kevin Mathews said...

I respect that.
Would love to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, having read all your reviews about the Baybeats gigs, I have to say: Dude, will the watchmen ever get back together to do gigs like that?
I also have to gripe that while a lot of bands are much better players these days (musical skills, etc), they do sometimes lose touch with the "soul" of the music. And it's that soul that connects you with the crowd. Radiohead, for example, are technically proficient in my book, but yet they can still communicate to the masses at their concerts because they still realise that sometimes, as my drummer would say, less is more. Even with all their complicated arrangements, etc, they make the music simple to the ear, that's what people will remember.

Kevin Mathews said...


thanks for that! Watchmen reforming? Highly unlikely...
But you might get good old ME instead... is that good enough?