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Saturday, October 13, 2007

STUCK

Sometimes that's exactly how I feel. Caught, helpless in a rut. The last two work weeks have certainly felt that way. Overwhelmed almost, holding on to the only hope I have - the Word of God. But that's another story...
Last night was the first time I heard You and Whose Army? (YaWA) live and it was the perfect tonic for the tough week before. Regular readers will know that I'm pretty close to Adam and Beni since they've been kind enough to be part of The Groovy People. Whilst Bonk and James, I have watched before playing for Indus Gendi and so, once again, is my objectivity tainted?
You decide...
The event was a tribute to the greatest DJ of all time - the late John Peel - and the venue was the Home Club, and as usual, saw some familiar 'old' faces viz Pat, Chang Kang, Joe, Ivan, Robin, Ben and some familiar 'new' faces viz. Inch, HQ, Aaron, Bang...
...anyways on with the show...
YaWA performed a 5-song set and with most fledging bands, began tentatively, almost like a cold car engine warming up. All four looked nervous as they launched into When Desire Strikes, a mid-tempo number with a distinctive lead guitar figure during the chorus which unfortunately was a little soft to leave a deep enough impact. This 'warming up' phase carried on with All Is Full Of Love, a brief two chord wonder which left the crowd bemused I think, not quite knowing how to react when the song ended.
Beni shifted to keyboards and Adam strapped on Bonk's guitar for Bjork Misplaced, a gorgeous piano ballad which changed the entire tone of the set as the music moved a step beyond your typical local indie rock and into the sublime...
A breakthrough had been achieved as the band belted out a confident Ordinary Is King, with James' slide guitar work reminiscient of the legendary David Gilmour himself, though the overall sound seemed more Neil Young than Pink Floyd live. And as much as I liked that, the band outdid itself with a truly incandescent Stuck, with Bonk delivering an impassioned vocal performance that surprised me. This dynamic shimmering live version blew the tame demo recording out of the water and lifted my spirits.
At the end, it was invigorating, my only regret was that the crowd did not seem to totally get YaWA with its cerebral brand of studied alt-rock.
But hopefully, that will come...
...but there's more...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SO GOOD ...

... to realize that your music has touched lives, even in a small way. Makes the effort all worthwhile. Here's an email I received recently from Alvin Tan...

Dear Mr Mathews.

Greetings. I chanced upon your blog searching for the one thing you were most famous for. In case you have a list of noteworthy accomplishments the length of your arm, that one thing, specifically, is the song you released under the moniker Watchmen - "My one and only".

Of course, that was all I knew about you and your song, prior to reading your post detailing its origins. I have to say: as an implement of romance, this song certainly takes the cake. And, when it debuted on radio, was positively pleasing. Just the song to labouriously practice on my guitar and eventually to croon outside a moonlit veranda. However, since I was bereft of both musical talent and besotted female, I had to settle for making tape recordings and singing along in my bathroom.

Anyway. Those cassettes are long gone. I'm not sure if your kind offer to let people rekindle old memories still stands, but it would be really nice if you could send me your very famous song (yes, the one mauled by various actors over the years. OK, at least one version wasn't too bad - no, I'm not referring to Sharon Au's). I'm aware of the terms you set out; unfortunately, I'm no music critic - my opinions on music are binary ( i.e. like, don't like) - but I will try to write something nice on your blog. Failing which, I will gladly buy you a beer in exchange.

Regardless, thank you for those 4 minutes of aural pleasure. You made my secondary school days that much more pleasant.


Thanks so much, Alvin, you really made my day...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

THE TRAIN SONG

A snippet of the Train Song from the Fire Fight's gig at Home Club on 30 Sep. Apologies for poor sound quality but I think in this case, you will admit, that the pictures paint a thousand words. Enjoy!

"DELAY RULES!"

Blurry-eyed and tired of limb, I stood at the back of the audience as the odd mix of curious passers-by, gawking tourists and genuine local music buffs gathered at the Stage @ Powerhouse at the Esplanade to witness the longest Allura gig to date.

Two sets of 45 minutes promised much, but did the fledging group have any material to sustain 90 minutes showtime?

It has been a mini-journey for me and the band having seen the band for the very first time in May this year at the Open Stage @ *scape and having gotten to know them as friends and observing their musical development in the last five months.

It's no secret that I love Allura as a band and as people but that never taints the objectivity of my assessments of their value and potential and it pleases me no end, when others "get" them as well, which acts as an independent affirmation of my opinion.

That said, the first set was tentative in parts, Inch's voice was rough in spots and she didn't quite hit the high notes in Closure, for example and there were bum notes, out of tune strings, out of sync timings etc. Although, throughout that whole first set, Mark John was in fine form - a true blue guitar hero.

The highlight of that first set had to be the debut of Gamajazillion (Thanks, Mark) and it was an impressive one. The chrous especially had a distinctive chord sequence that pleased my melody g-spot no end... a cool hybrid of Who/U2 chord voicings and modern alternative vibes.

I must say that Sangwich is beginning to wear a little, its contrived nature going against the grain of the organic underpinnings of most of Allura's material. It's almost seems like the band are pandering to the moshers with its call and response section, which falls flat and Inch sounds like she's hectoring - never a good sign.

So perhaps it was ironic that the best performance of that first set was a cover, U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, which was delivered with panache and guts. I think I got chills listening to it and the sparse crowd milling at the stage certainly enjoyed it...

It rained briefly in the interim period and so the second set started late, almost at 10.15 pm and with the seats wet, most of us stood at the stage to bask in the music. Noticably, the band was tigther and in better form. Inch's voice was almost perfect and hardly faltered. In fact, I must say that she gave a performance that was mesmerising and left me smiling. I tell you when that little girl turns it on, there are very few young performers who can match her intensity, energy and showmanship.

Wow!

Same was true for the entire band, playing like there was no tomorrow (although the band did repeat songs from the earlier set - thankfully, no Sangwich - and it was cool to hear Closure and Gamajazillion again...) and blessing the crowd with an incendiary Ladeda, which has become their signature song.

Looking around, it was obvious that there were many were sharing my feelings about the band, singing (even shouting) along, bopping and stomping to the sonic calvacade.

A truimphant gig!!!

Whew! A great way to end an otherwise disappointing week.

...still there's more...