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Michael Rother In Concert ~ 8/11/2016 ~ by Nick the Bookman
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Author:  Lamma-Gung [ Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Michael Rother In Concert ~ 8/11/2016 ~ by Nick the Bookman


I'm not sulking or feeling stroppy today. That's still to come because I've space/time shifted to KITEC in Kowloon Bay on 8 November 2016 for an unexpected treat. Michael Rother, most famous for being a member of Krautrock band NEU! and slightly more space-mellow band Harmonia, is appearing in concert. At the Music Zone on the ground floor of KITEC. The same venue that saw Jane and Mike aka Songs For Children host gigs by Jesus And Mary Chain and Dinosaur Jr. within the past few years. Huge thanks to Alistair for tipping me off about this concert...

My ticket is no. 66. I don't know how many they printed, but I guestimate that the audience is around 200 people strong. Mostly local electronica buffs and a reasonable amount of gwailos, including a largish contingent of German fans, giving support to their Local Hero. The flyer advertising this event (which should be below these words - thanks L-G) has a black photo of a young pony-tailed MR seated at an electronic keyboard. The inset colour photo shows the band. A trio. From left to right, they are Franz Bergmann on guitar and FX. Michael on keyboards and synths and occasional bass(?) and Hans Lampe is the drummer. Hong Kong is the final stop of a short regional tour.

The show is advertised as an 8 p.m. start. Doors open a little earlier and there is a sedate rush to grab the front few rows of seats. Alistair is somewhere mid-throng and I'm chatting to Sue (we've met before in some Lamma-based activity), Graham (The Lad) and Arthur, a courtly gent of my generation. Sue and Arthur provide cocktails. (Mmmhh! Strongly delicious). Sue tells me she learned about this show through Iggy Pop! He does a satellite radio show and loves Michael Rother as a musician and peer and he wasted no opportunities to plug this HK debut. So along she came.

The trio amble on stage. Do a few preliminary bits of tuning up and then, the gig is underway. Michael tells us this is our "...first concert in HK. A special occasion. Hope you enjoy the experience" and adds "If you enjoy dancing please do. We like to see people dancing to the music". Cue gentle stage rush and people are bopping and sway-grooving up against the rails. No signs of bovver.

I've known of NEU! for ages. Never was able to find their records in HK. Although I amassed a lot of Amon Duul Two, Can, Faust, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream in my time. Still have most of those records in my, now tiny, collection. The only tune I really know by NEU! is "Negativland" which I've played at recent DJ gigs and mixed into a couple of my CD mixes. The other classic song is "HalloGallo" which I think I've heard once prior to this show. I think it's played as part of the three-tune encore. The Harmonia stuff I know not of. Ditto his more ambient and classical sounding solo works.

The soundscapes range from darker industrial noises to ambling bleepery and lush electronic tones. A hint of bagpipes in one piece. Ennio Morricone spaghetti western influences fade in and out of existence. Some Vangelis style "Blade Runner" motifs occur as well. Franz's guitar is mostly simple strummage at times. But he can play some choice guitar licks as well. Check on web footage of his now demised band Camera to see how he won his place on this tour. No flashwankery sizzling fingers bursting into flames. Hans's drumming is vintage motoric pace at times. No frenzied Ginger Baker-isms breaking loose and scaring the kiddies, but he does alter the tempos very nicely. Someone says the way Michael is caressing and teasing his synths, it could be the best DJ set list in HK right now.

The visuals are eye-grabbing at times. There's a lovely road movie of sorts which recalls a real life version of "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk. Behind me, Sue has released her inner dance demon and is having a furious frug by her seat. About ten rows back. More room to bop about. I'm flitting about and have found myself a nice spot at extreme stage left front. I can see Michael working furiously behind his keyboards coaxing higher levels of energy out of songs. I recognise "Negativland" when it starts. It signals the tail end of the show. The band break in the middle ("keep on clapping") and return to the stage to conclude in what my notes say is "a fine Hendrixian rage-howl of beats. Swirls of sonic insanity..." And after eighty minutes, that is it. The band have ended their latest tour in triumph.

After we've left the MusicZone, Al and I are standing by the merchandise stall. We've met Heinfried who knew Michael back in the Good Old Days in Germany. Bands and fans were a sort of amorphous, indivisible blob. Sharing flats. Hanging out. Drinking, drugging, partying, house-sharing. Well, it was the Late Sixties etc., etc. He says they may not come and do the "Meet-N-Greet Shuffle" with the fans. They are rather taciturn and prefer their own company. But they're not unfriendly. Franz comes over to say hello and be lavishly praised for the exhilarating performance. They are in town until "tomorrow, tomorrow". An invitation is proffered to visit Lamma. Up to them, of course..
Attachment:
File comment: Michael Rother on Lamma ~ Photo by Caspar Billington
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...and it's about 1140 the next morning and the three of them turn up at the Lamma Ferry Pier. In time for the noonday ferry to Yung Shue Wan. I'm amazed and happy they have accepted the invitation. They prefer to keep their own company. I chat with Franz the most and next with Hans, but am happy to leave them to their own devices. I tell them a little of Lamma's history. How long I've lived here. What the music/artist scene is like in this Happy Hippie Idyll Island. The possible Final Freedom Frontier in China? They come off the ferry, stroll to the Temple and Clinic and Football Field. They turn around, walk back and Michael buys some bananas from the fruit/veg shop opposite Gen's shop.

Caspar, who is sitting at a prime view table at Cath's Bar, is primed by me to take the photo that you are hopefully all enjoying right now. Note that the band are lined up in the same l-r pattern as on the flyer (see below). Great sniping, Caspar! I'm not such a fan of sniping (long range photo shots) as I get more than my fair share of them. But, needs must and here's the proof that Franz, Michael and Hans Made It To Lamma. Michael and I even did a little fist bump after I thanked him on behalf of everyone else at the show for coming to HK. Please return again.

One final point. Mirage Music are repeating the magic again on Sunday 18/12/2016. The flyer says Roedelius Plays Kluster, Cluster & Solo Works. He's now 82 years old (the same age as the recently demised Leonard Cohen). Al thinks this will be a more ambient set. It's at Mom Livehouse, B39, 7 Seas Shopping Centre, 113-121 King's Rd, North Point. From 8 p.m. If this is your bag, be there. We won't see him play here again.

Attachments:
File comment: Michael Rother Live in HK ~ Photo by FungKate
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File comment: Photo by Alastair Johnson
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File comment: Photo by Alastair Johnson
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