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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:18 pm 
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Location: Pak Kok Village
Elbow in HK -- 22/7/2011 -- by Nick the Bookman

"We still believe in love, so fuck you"

It's been an amusing day so far (or week) watching The Great Phone-Hacking Scandal unfold in England. Rupert Murdoch, the Dirty Digger, and his odious offspring, James, have been telling porkies to a Parliamentary Inquiry, set up to uncover the truth (ha!) about the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World that has encompassed tragic normal families (the late Milly Dowler), celebrities (like Sienna Miller and Jude Law), self important publicists (Max Clifford), the head of the PFA (Gordon Taylor) and better dead politicians (John - now Lord - Prescott) among others.

The fall out from the affair has led to the closure of the News of the Screws (thanks Private Eye for the natty new nomenclature), the arrest of up to 13 journalists who worked there, including Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Coulson was the editor at the time and Brooks was above him in the food chain as some sort of weird liaison to Murdoch. Both deny any wrongdoing, naturally. The uproar has forced News International to abandon their bid to take control of BskyB satellite service. Murdoch also had to sell Facebook, for US$35 million, having earlier bought it for US$580 million. According to Private Eye 1294, NI, paid out 2 million quid to keep Clifford and Taylor quiet in 2008, While James Murdoch and BSkyB have shelled out another billion pounds to stifle dissent among NI shareholders. Coulson has lost his job as PM David Cameron's spokesman-sort-of-thingy. Cameron is also ducking and dodging questions about his close ties to the higher-ranking reptiles. And several top Inspector Knacker's of the Yard could also be in trouble.

The doddery Digger began his testimony before the Parliamentary Select Committee by saying "This is the most humble day of my life" (I think he meant to say humbling, but hey, he's the oligarch in charge of rong wurds). Aside from James mangling the language further in a dribbling torrent of vapid legalese which continues to bore, baffle and bemuse today, the Defence ploy seemed to be to apologise, feel regret and sorrow, not accept blame and continue cashing the daily checks. The only fun came when unemployed comedian John Marr-Bowles, aka Johnny Marbles, became the guy who shoved a pie in in the eye of Big Boss Sky. Admittedly, he did it very gently and was promptly assaulted himself by Murdoch's Dragon-Tiger Lady wife, Wendi. Johnny got six weeks jail for his assault. Wendi got nothing except global accolades for her daring intervention. Oh, and Parliament got cleared out of all spectators, just in case an accomplice might have had an exploding foam and paper plate. And Johnny's girlfriend dumped him via Twitter.

I expect you're wondering about the quote up top. It's from "Grace Under Pressure" by Elbow. It serves two purposes. One, if you consider that "believe in love" equals fair play and "fuck you" means payback, it's a neat encapsulation of how the public feels about the hacking scandal. Two, it's another long-worded side-trip into this review of Elbow in Hong Kong. OK?

Elbow are making their local debut at KITEC, just a couple of weeks after headlining Glastonbury in front of a hundred thousand people. Apparently they did one of the Great Sets Of All Time, which bodes well for tonight's gig. They're touring their latest release "Build A Rocket Boys" which is described as "spacious yet intimate" by Q Magazine. Several tracks are slow-burners, building gracefully to a climax. Or not. The tunes aren't in any hurry to get anywhere and the sound trip is entrancing. It's the usual KITEC gig. Start about 2000 hours and finish by about 2230. There are two support acts starting with 9 Maps.

This "entrancing indie-folk band" is already on stage when I get inside the concert hall. They're a trio comprising Ciosa Houlihan on acoustic guitar and vocals. Sherin Siew on acoustic guitar and piano (on the CD at least). And Minsub Lee, the newly recruited low key drummer. The songs sound "like a feminine Kings of Convenience crossed with Regina Spektor, heavily dosed with interweaving vocals, consonant harmonies and a musical conversation between guitar and piano. The simple but beautiful songwriting tugs at (the) heartstrings". All the bits in "..." describing the band are taken from a report in Time Out by Mark Tjhung so if you're enjoying this review, then he gets the credit for most of this paragraph. The trio are as nice and low key as he describes. I think there was some muffled drumming at times and some tinkly wind chimes and xylophones in the mix as well. A nice harbinger for the rest of the night.

The middle act is Hong Kong born Emmy The Great, now reaping the rich harvest of her talent in England. Someone tells me that's she going out with "the singer from Ash". She has one quite baroque-folk release out which is generating acclaim. Her set here is minimal. Some flourishing acoustic guitar. Some near a-capella vocals. The set rises and falls amidst the tinkle of glasses and the wicked babble buzz from the bar area. My notes (those I can read) say bit of Sandy Denny clearly in the voice at times. The tunes run the gamut of slow-fast-slow with hints of prog beats melting into a trippy slowburn rocker. Emmy is Eurasian and sings one song in Cantonese to warm applause from the mellowed-out audience. She mentions that she "loves the band you'll see tonight. I saw them at Glastonbury. Blew my socks off" and strides and strums triumphantly through her sixth and final number. I think I'm going to have to find her release, because what I heard tonight is worth listening to again and again.

It's now 2130 and Elbow stroll nonchalantly on stage. They're a quintet which has been described as "The Coldplay it's OK to like" and "Britain's best-loved progressive band". They won best British group at the 2009 Brits and two Ivor Novello awards for best song. Shows what twenty years together can do. Elbow are Guy Garvey on vocals, occasional trumpet and full time beard. Craig Potter on keyboards, percussion and chin fluff. Brother Mark does the guitars while growing his whiskers. Pete Turner handles bass duties, part time keyboards and fine flowing face fuzz. Drummer Richard Jupp lays down the wicked beats while letting his recently departed Miami Vice stubble dream of re-adorning his features. He's the only clean shaven one tonight in other words. Two lovely ladies, Stella and Jacky appear a couple of times to add violins to the enchanting mix of sonic sorcery, seeping from the stage. No beards visible on them either.

Guy's in fine form tonight. Whether he's asking the bar staff what they're serving "Only beer and wine? No Jagermeister? Oh well" and then telling the audience to tell the boozers to "Fuck Off". In a good-humoured-pisstaking-no-violence-tonight-sort-of-way. He's pleased to announce that "this is the first time I've ever been able to say this. Good Evening Hong Kong. We're Elbow from Manchester". Happy roars of response and he knows he's got the audience under his spell for the duration. Mesmerising versions of "The Birds", "Lippy Kids", "Neat Little Rows" and "Open Arms" come from the latest album. They styles range from near shamanic voodoo rhythms to piano-driven, tear-sodden melt-down maelstroms of loss and heartache. It's intimate and anthemic Then, it's time gather around the piano for a drink on stage and some witty badinage. Including heartfelt cries of "isn't he a beauty" addressed to the other four bandmates. Other songs include "the romantic vibe of "Mirrorball" and a stunning version of "Grounds for Divorce" one of the two Novello Award winning songs. The final tune is "One Day Like This" which Barry C Chung's review in the Young Post describes as "arguably the most blissful song ever created" I'm not in total disagreement with that sentiment. He seemed to enjoy the show. So did the other thousand or so punters who were lucky enough to attend. It was a smorgasbord of laughter, pathos, shivery melodies, rock out chords, captivating solo moments and so on.

The one gripe I had was that having hitched my review to the quote from "Grace Under Pressure", I never got to hear the song. It sort of got "Elbowed" to one side in the rush to play everything else. Oh, well. Shit happens. And Murdoch and his trollish family all got the (non-football) Vote of Confidence from the Board of News Incorporated. They're still in place. Why? Pick anyone of two point seven billion crisp rustling reasons.


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