Kommen sie hier Hong Kong und listen to Kraft-Blur!

9 May

kraftwerkHong Kong outdid itself over the weekend with the London bus-style arrival of two global musical giants of very different pedigree – Kraftwerk and Blur. Both showed up what’s best and worst about the city’s live music tastes.

Having spent Saturday afternoon drinking Tsingtao and listening to krautrock our expectations were suitably piqued ahead of the electro-pioneers’ 3D gig at Kowloon’s Kitec centre. There was only one problem – no bar in the venue and no drinks allowed inside. At a gig? Seriously? So after muttering to the box office staff something about my inalienable rights and that I’d see them in Strasbourg, we rejoined to the venue’s apparently only café, to find it had stopped serving half an hour before the gig was due to start.

It is a testament to Kraftwerk’s magical electronic plinky plonkings that being forced to drink warm Blue Girl Imported Premium Lager and chow down on a microwaveable 7-11 hot dog did not ruin my evening before it had even started. 3-D glasses firmly in place we were treated to two hours of a Kraftwerk greatest hits show, complete with nicely retro three dimensional projections. Autobahn, Robots, Tour De France, The Model, Trans Europe Express, Musique Non Stop – the music and visuals just about distracted from the appalling skin-tight bathing suits these four portly middle-aged men were wearing. For the record, Kraftwerk dress auf der linken Seite.hiroshima - kraftwer

Apparently chief songwriter Ralf Hütter is the only remaining original member of the band. To be honest one Teutonic sounding sex offender looks very much like another when plonked behind a plinth wearing a skin-tight bathing suit, so no great loss there. Good tunes. No banter. A simple auf widersehen and then they were off to go cruising Lockhart Rd, or more probably back to the hotel for a slice of strudel and a sleepy. Quality.

Blur was an altogether different beast. In what was billed as their farewell tour the English indie legends blasted through a 90 minute set of such quality it was almost impossible to choose the lame song to go to the toilet during. Albarn spent the gig jumping and spazzing about like a 23-year-old, with Coxon coaxing unearthly howlings from his geetar (solo highlight: Trimm Trab) and Alex James, well, standing off to one side looking louche and thinking of cheese. Age has certainly not withered them, although Albarn managed to throw a bit of a hissy fit when his guitar malfunctioned during Tender and the crowd had to step in to calm him down with an impromptu a cappella version of the chorus, like a long-suffering mother dealing with an ADHD-riddled child.

The highlight, early on, came when the Gorillaz front man apologised for not having made it to HK with Blur until now – 25 years after forming. Their upcoming gig in Japan had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, he continued, meaning the boys had a week free which they planned to spend in the SAR trying to write a new album. Cue screams of delight from the audience. Whether we’ll ever see the fruits of this week’s Blur holiday in Hong Kong remains to be seen, although Albarn has already penned the imperious Hong Kong with Gorillaz.

So, thanks Hong Kong, but can we have more of this in future please and sort the bar situation out? It’s pretty embarrassing when you begin to get out-muscled on the live music front by Singapore, although judging by the noticeable gaps in the crowd at both venues, it’s no more than some of us deserve.

(PS I might add some videos to this post if I can work out how to do it)

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