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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:03 pm 
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Psycho in Mongkok - June 18, 2016

Review by Nick the Bookman

Well. I guess you've all read the SCMP story by now. [Editor L-G: SCMP, June 17, '16: "Nick the Bookman: Lamma's number one hippie reflects on more than three decades in Hong Kong"] It was a fun gig to do despite some playful jousting between Rachel and myself as to whose agenda would take pride of place. She wanted to get my take on Lamma and life in general. I wanted to use the interview to try and promote Lamma and its residents as an acme of gracious living. I think she trumped me (by having the final say, so to speak).

But I did get the photograph I wanted and thanks a lot for accommodating me, KC. Nice to meet you again. I think our paths crossed back in the wild western days when I was a hairy RTV (later ATV, and now sadly demised due to incompetence) reporter traversing the televisual terrain. He made me feel more at ease than I thought I would be. Shot in excess of 50 photographs. I liked the one the SCMP used which showed Million Words Charity in the background. Rob and his cohorts are mates, not rivals. I wasn't plotting any sort of a coup. I just wanted to give their charity a boost and a plug. They deserve it. They do good work.

Melle, my sister, passed the story to Mom and Dad in Devon. They all liked it except... (wait for it) the stuff about our Irish heritage. My fault for not speaking clearly enough. For the record, we are Anglo-Scots. Our northern heritage can be traced back to MacDuff (he who slew MacBeth). So. what was I thinking? Selective amnesia? (You can call me Al Zimer!). Deliberate disinformation? (Can't tell you). I prefer the John Ford explanation. He was the famous Film Director of mid 1930s Oaters (i.e. Westerns) who said that given the choice of facts or legend, always print the legend. Anyway, enough of that. It's time to slip off the Karmic roundabout again and slip into beardy obscurity. Here's some other people for you to pick up the slack...
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It's Wednesday 18-5-2016 and a stunning three-group concert is getting ready to take place in the Lamma Bar & Grill. A venue which has had its fair share of musical magical nights over the past two decades. The first I can remember is the Sisters of Sharon doing a splendid acoustic gig to celebrate Marilena consenting to become my wife. That was 21/3/1995 and the marital situation remains unchanged to this day and beyond. She's still in charge and still my best friend and soulmate and I wouldn't have it any other way. The revels went on for quite some time and it took about five days to consummate this tryst. Not that we hadn't had a lot of practise in the previous half decade since we first met!

There's a good crowd inside and out waiting to enjoy the sumptuous song writing skills and showmanship of The Midlife Crisis Cowboys, Shatalene and the aforementioned Psychos From Mongkok who are making their long anticipated return to Lamma, after blowing minds beyond the heliosphere at the second Dick Jones Memorial Concert back at the start of 2016. Also DJW is providing tasty punky rock mixes via his IPOD in between sets. That's Dave who's Eva's husband. The MLCC remain the unchanged sextet of yore. You know who they are, but for trivial completists, I'll say they are Gareth on bass. Harry on acoustic guitar and lead vox. Jacob on mandolin or ukulele or possibly both. Magnus on drums and percussion. Miguel on second guitar. Sam on unhinged lead electric guitar flashes.

The band kicks off with a rousing version of "Folsom Prison Blues" by the late. lamented Johnny Cash. Then detunes into a laid-back version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" with a lot of acoustic welly strummage. Harry introduces a song called "The Bush" which he claims to have written last week. He's fibbing. It's a fine floral-flourishing version of "A Forest" by The Cure. Other late 80's bands who get a sonic seeing-to include Echo and the Bunnymen whose "Killing Moon" gets the full Spaghetti Western twangalicious treatment. Lots of big chords and Sam is cranking out the mesmeric lead guitar strums. I'd love to hear how the Midlife Crisis Cowboys tackle "Turquoise Days" by the Bunnymen. Well, sometime down the road perhaps? A special tribute to the late David Bowie comes with a magnificently ragged and raging temper tantrum version of "Queen Bitch". I still remember almost all of the words from 30 years ago. And now the temperature's rising to near sauna levels of heat frenzy. Perfect for a lash through the Human League's monster hit "Being Boiled". The only song I know that introduces the audience to the joys of "sericulture". Harry is (and I'm quoting from one of the more legible parts of my review) "pretty much word perfect and there's another twitchy arpeggio riff-laden solo" from Sam. And all too quickly they are done, but there's still two more bands to come...

It's straight into Shatalene which is Sean from David Bowie Knives and his lady love Natalie. Sean reminds me of a human Muppet. Specifically Animal in the way he thrashes his drum kit into submission while damn near eating the microphone in a bid to get the last quaver wavering vocals past his tonsils and into the crowd. For a lead guitarist he's a fine funky drummer. Natalie is armed with a massive bass and FX pedals to die for. And she has a sweetly sultry singing style. With perhaps a touch of helium in the breathy delivery. Roger, the chief PFM'er, informs me that the dynamic duo "are brilliant". They are, especially when they trip into twangysurfadelic mood. Best summed up in their performance of "(Remember) Walking In The Sand". By The Shirelles if memory serves me well. Quite a punky/goth delivery which somehow reminds me of The Cramps. Ooh. look. Here's Mozz come to enjoy the riffs and rock, Surely he's got time to pen a review for me? And by the way, sorry I missed your recent performance in this very same venue and do you forgive me? Over to Mozz. "Yeah matey! I completely understand because we were shite as always" (I strongly disagree with that sentiment because you've always been the punky rocking dogs bollocks when I've seen you before and I refuse to believe that your sonic standards have slipped) "Tonight's gig is going strongly. MLCC were fucking excellent and Shatalene are rocking it right now". Thanks Mozz.

And now the end is near. PFM are setting up. They've had some fun earlier. Roger has presided over a lucky draw in which two unsuspecting punters win a free gift each of a pink dildo (batteries not included). These guys really put the psycho into psychedelic. The joint is jumping even more than Joe Jackson ever imagined. I'm chatting to a lovely Italian lady called Laura who has come over especially for this gig by PFM. Incidentally, there used to be a great Italian prog rock band called PFM in the early/mid 70's. Their identical initials stood for Premiata Forma Marconi (if memory serves me well). Did a wonderful song cycle LP called "Photos Of Ghosts". Hauntingly beautiful, but they could also rock-out in a style to match Goblin when the mood took them. Goblin were/are the house-cum-film band for Dario Argento. Provided the soundtracks for his Seventies slasher/spook films. A perfect match of crypt-rocking keyboards and grizzled screamy vox. Blended seamlessly with DA's retina melting saturated and lysergic visuals. Laura says she has never heard of them, but she's a beautiful babe in arms who didn't exist when PFM were striding the Italian rock scene. Sorry, I'm getting side-tracked. Ah, memories still green...

Right, the latter day PFM are a quintet tonight. They comprise Roger on lead guitar and vox. Ben on the synth-moog. Fernando on the thunder drums. Eduardo on boomtastic bass. And their latest space cadet is Callum. He plays sax and flute. Outrageously and beautifully as the song dictates. He auditioned less than a week ago and wowed the others. And now he's in the band. The 20% increase in band personnel translates to about 80% extra motherfucking OOOMPH!. This guy brings the noise and in a stunning fashion. Callum has a day job. Doing corporate gigs. Playing his heart out. And hopefully making the rent. At one point he's standing by the stairwell wall. His head leaning against it. Cocked sideways. Eyes closed while he blows up a sax storm that reminds me of Nik Turner of Hawkwind fame. Al agrees with me on this one. Meanwhile Ben is a knob twiddler extreme. Coaxing all sorts of electronic storm mayhem from his synth. Sometimes lying on the floor while scrabbling blindly with the controls above his head. Eduardo and Fernando are the heart and soul drum/bass interface taking the band down darker byways while never losing sight of the deep interstellar end point. And returning the song back into the normal Earth gravity well as and when required. Roger is a scream thy last scream Floydian vocalist in the finest sense. The set was a bit more cosmic when they played Dick's memorial. Especially their set piece masterwork called "The Dealer". That was cosmic surf blues twang. This time it's more relentless. Roger still hits all the major vibe notes, but Callum is as good as another lead guitar on the sax. I'm certainly not the only one on Lamma who considers this band one of HK's finest underground discoveries. Can't remember all the songs they did, but I certainly loved the finale. A stunning remake of "Right now, right now. It;s time to Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers". The superb MC5 classic from 1969. They were ONE of the truly great US rock bands of the late 60's and early 70's until they imploded just prior to punk. Fred "Sonic" Smith, the lead guitarist was married to Patti Smith (of "Horses" fame). He's dead now. So is Rob Tyler the vocalist. The surviving three recently co-hosted an evening with Primal Scream. A mutual admiration society par excellence...

Meanwhile Sean has grabbed a well-deserved beer and joined me front-and-centre. I ask him if he would be so kind to write something for me in my book. He agrees and scribbles away for at least three songs. When I see the results I am delighted. He hasn't written a lovely review. He's fucking drawn it! You can see the evidence as part of this story if Lamma Gung hasn't misplaced the photos. Or unless Sean hasn't sent them over. Anyway, all too soon, the evening is over. Everyone is mind-blown. PFM have missed the last ferry, but aren't bothered. There's another in about six hours, so no sweat. We enjoy a lovely chat outside the Bar and Grill after it's all over. Marilena arrives about 0130 to find out where I am. I introduce her to Laura and Roger and we stay about another 30 minutes or so and then she gently leads me home to bed and beyond. Thanks, Caroline and James for sterling behind-the-scenes perfect hosting. Big hi to Tracy and Howard who couldn't get into the pub through the crush. They watched and listened through the window. Thanks to the lovely young ladies who did wonderful barmaid duties. They're Frank and Jaki's daughters. All four have returned from Thailand to resume their life on Lamma after some two decades in Thailand. Welcome back. It's like you were never away. And now it's time, and now it's time to wrap this missive up.

Coming very soon to a computer screen near you is A Nocturnal Outing With The Lamma Book Club...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 3:50 pm 
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