Our top Hong Kong musical moments of 2017: from heavy metal to classical ping pong
Although Hong Kong has had to say goodbye to some venues this year, the music scene in the city shows no signs of dying out with indie bands, festivals, classical performances and visits from international stars. Here are our favourite gigs and performances from the past 12 months
There was a great sense of solidarity about Hong Kong’s music scene this year. Undeterred by increasing government clampdowns on live spaces and closing venues, fans rallied around local groups and ensured that shows were supported – from secret gigs in industrial buildings to A-list international appearances and everything in-between.
But it wasn’t only a strong year for indie music: K-pop, classical and hip-hop performers all made their mark on the city in 2017. Here, the Post’s culture team share some of their favourite moments.
Lauren James: thrash-metal group Metallica showed how to greet a city that has been deprived of a heavy-metal superstar act for years when they stormed AsiaWorld-Expo in January, attracting both ardent metalheads and those who just went along for the spectacle. Solo shows by international groups Mew, Splashh, The Kills and Motorama were particular highlights, as were scene-stealing sets at Wow and Flutter festival by local groups Phoon, David Boring and Prune Deer. The Kaiser Chiefs, Stormzy and Higher Brothers all received a spine-tingling reception at Clockenflap festival, while reunion performances by ’90s Hong Kong bands Minimal and Fan Hung A felt momentous, too.
Mark Sharp: vintage British punk band The Damned swung by in February as part of their 40th anniversary tour, and showed they can still put on a spirited and lively performance after all those years. Although the Kitec venue wasn’t as intimate as Grappa’s Cellar, where the band had played a ripping set five years earlier, they were no less of a class act, full of fun and energetic enthusiasm.
The Damned belted out many of their old favourites. Among them were the first ever punk single, New Rose, as well as Smash It Up, Neat Neat Neat, and I Just Can’t Be Happy Today. At least the audience was happy that day.
Bernice Chan: in June the Hong Kong Philharmonic had a fun concert entitled “Ping Pong Diplomacy”, featuring Andy Akiho’s Ricohet : Triple Concerto for Ping Pong, Percussion and Orchestra, conducted by Yu Long. On stage in front of the orchestra was a table tennis table with two large boxes of orange table tennis balls. Two players dressed to the nines, played table tennis to the music which was very entertaining. The climax came when the players each dumped their boxes of table tennis balls all over the table, much to the surprise of the audience, while children ran over to collect as many balls as they could.
Tom Eves: Hong Kong’s big metal story of 2017 was Metallica playing in town for the first time, but it was the debut visit of another of the Big Four thrash metal bands that really got me excited: Megadeth. Seeing frontman Dave Mustaine in the flesh for the first time shredding and sneering through classics like Holy Wars and Wake Up Dead was a momentous metal experience, while Kiko Loureiro’s technical work on lead guitar was a sight to behold. The atmosphere was intense, the moshing fierce – and we didn’t have to pretend to like the new songs, either.
Alkira Reinfrank: as a foreigner to the highly stylised world of K-pop, stepping into the genre’s biggest award show, the Mnet Asian Music Awards, was a surreal experience. Supergroup BTS cleaned up on the night, after a spectacular art light show performance; but in truth, the spectacle belonged to the fans. Thousands of mostly young woman crammed into Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo hours before any stars took to the stage. Outside, girls threw themselves shrieking at a road barrier as a nondescript black van drove past them. Afterwards, as they feverishly uploaded to social media, someone told me it had been a member of Wanna One that had driven past. In the arena, the 10,000-strong screaming crowd were there for a show, but from the eyes of a newcomer to hallyu (Korean new-wave culture), the starry-eyed crowd became the show. They sang when their idols sang, cried when they cried as emotions ran over on stage, and left euphoric and feeling like winners, with no doubt husky voices.
Kevin Kwong: Canto-pop veteran Prudence Liew Mei-kwan returned to the Hong Kong Coliseum after almost a decade for her Karma Chameleon concert in October. Produced by award-winning composer Leon Ko Sai-tseung, the show was billed as a theatrical spectacle and it didn’t disappoint. For one song the singer performed inside a round cubicle that vertically rotated near the top of a giant set – the effect was visually stunning. The playlist more or less covered Liew’s three-decade career, including such hits as The Last Night, Why and more recent releases such as her cover of I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song and Eye to Eye. Since her latest release Reincarnated Love (2017) is all about “live jamming and improv” I was hoping to see more of that in the concert so a good chunk of the gig was still very much a Canto-pop concert. Running for only two nights, it was unfortunate that Liew had no chance to tweak the show, especially when the second one was cancelled due to a typhoon.