Tuesday, 27 February 2007

...Simplicity review

My second attempt at my own blog. Hopefully this time it'll last.

This time though, thanks to a few ideas, there is some purpose behind it. Hopefully this might even produce some results.

The other night i found my self enthusiastically heading towards Mount Beach hoping to catch some good live music. Left home late expecting things to kick off at 8pm Sri Lanka time (i.e. ... well you definitely know that it's not gonna start at 8). Got to Mount at around 9:15pm. Finding parking was a nightmare. Think i ended up down every street headed towards the beach on Hotel Road. After 20 minutes of looking (longer than the actual drive) for Palm Beach Hotel and then parking I was trudging along towards where it all happened.

After 10 minutes of wading through the sand and 10 minutes more of saying hi to friends the damn show had still not started! It finally got under way closer to 10. Was an impressive line up on paper. Jada started off with a Paul Simon cover. A usually impressive lot, i wasn't surprised with their song selection. Well same went for a lot of bands on the night, cause as expected all most of the songs that were played were covers that you would expect to hear from a local "rock band". So anyway, lets cut the crap and give you some of the highs and lows of the night. In no specific order.

Cannot help but start with HollowPoint Halo who played two of their own and a cover of Tool's The Pot. Ranil and Marsh were absolutely brilliant. Well we could sense the crowd only expected such brilliance as they moved in right up close to the stage when HPH were setting up. I was left speechless and with my jaw playin with the beach sand on the floor for the two of them conquered the sheer complexity of each piece they played. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

Fuzz Mechanix did a beautiful version of Stevie Wonder's "you are the sunshine of my life". They also did a few incubus covers which were nice. Nothing extraordinary. But their bassist is absolutely amazing. He plays with such a vibe about him that you're just content to sit and stare at the way he caresses his guitar. The lead vocalist/guitar is also in a class of his own. I didn't quite take to the way they sounded usually, but this acoustic set, i believe, brought out the best in them.

Shaun (from the old Jacob's Ladder) did a nice version of 45 and also a very refreshing version of Billy Jean. LONR left a lot to be desired. Magic Box Mixup fell short of the brilliant performances that they usually put up. Sad that they will be on an extended break though. Adil left much to be desired, although he did try to play originals which should be commended. His final song 'Underground', from his days in the Brass Monkey Band, was super though. The others didn't make much of an impression on me i guess although there were a few nice performances here and there from the likes of Virginia, GINT (I think thats right), etc.

I think the main reason why the show fell well below expectations was that the bands more or less took it for granted. The covers were too obvious. You could've written a list of the songs that you thought you might hear at such a night and 9 times out of 10 you'd have been right. If they had tried to make the covers there own it would've been so much better, i.e. what HPH did with the TOOL cover they played. When you resign yourself to playing mediocre covers and putting up mediocre performances, it gives reason for the crowd to go home at midnight, which was the case.

Ideally I personally would've loved to see more originals being played. Would've brought out the real musicianship of the performers rather than their ability to read chords or tabs over the internet. No one wants to pay 500 bucks to see rubbish. I'd much rather download the music for free, albeit illegally.

It also got me thinking, most of the bands lack the ability to "entertain". My parents come back from the Cliff Richards show and they were wowed. Why can't i come back from a gig in Colombo and feel the same? What i'd like to see is more bands like HPH, BrassMonkeyBand (can't believe they're more or less over). I'd like to see musicians play like the bassist from Fuzz Mechanix - like they actually love what they're doing. Tall ask? Maybe if this could be achieved we'd have a better following of music in Colombo. At Simplicity the majority of the crowd sat on the beach staring out to sea. Probably because most of the bands were all out at sea! Then again, i'd also like to see less of the crowd at the next gig. I hate seeing people who want to be there just to be seen, not because they like the music.

There's this little run down place called the Adelphi down DeGrey street in Hull, England which has hosted bands such as Radiohead and Oasis long before the bands became famous. Recently Paolo Nutini did a free gig their too. Picture a badly lit 2 car garage. Picture posters on the walls of gigs that have happened there. Picture graffiti everywhere, an almost broken down stage and a bar in the corner. An old man named Paul who has run the place for 20 years, never making a profit. He does it only for the love of music at the threat of being closed down too. I had the rare opportunity of seeing some inspirational musicians there who used to play like they loved what they do. More importantly, i had the honour of experiencing the audience that would grace that place - they were all there coz they wanted to hear live music. They'd all clap and cheer even if the musician was shit, just to support the guy on stage. They wouldn't walk out just because their friend had finished playing. Music lovers they truly were. I'd only wish for such an audience in Sri Lanka. Some day...