Queen + Adam Lambert @ AsiaWorld Expo – 28 September, 2016

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The show must go on as Queen + Adam Lambert entertained almost 10,000 sing-a-long fans at AsiaWorld Expo as the legendary rock group final made it to Hong Kong.

There is no replacing Freddie, as a couple of video clips showed, but Lambert works hard to entertain in what must be the strange job of filling the boots of a man who’s influence dominates the evening. Fans want to hear the classic songs, so he can’t make them his own and yet he’s not singing in a covers band… Tough task, but he makes a pretty good fist of it.

At 2 hours and 15 minutes the show is tight, professional and includes most of the hits. There’s an entertaining drum-off between Roger Taylor and his son, a long solo from Brian May and the two song encore ends with band waving goodbye to the strains of God Save the Queen.

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If there’s a complaint, beyond the, as usual, very average sound at AsiaWorld Expo, it’s that the show feels very orchestrated and choreographed. It lacked those moments of spontaneity and improvisation that can turn a good/great concert into a truly memorable even legendary one. Still a fun night out and there’ll be a lot of hoarse voices this morning. Thanks Freddie, Roger, Brian for so many great songs that will live forever!

Seven Seas of Rhye
Hammer to Fall
Stone Cold Crazy
Fat Bottom Girls
Don’t Stop Me Now
Killer Queen
Somebody to Love

Love of My Life
It’s a Kind of Magic
Drum Battle
Under Pressure
Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Another One Bites the Dust
I Want It All
Who Wants to Live Forever
The Show Must Go On
Guitar Solo
Tie Your Mother Down
I Want to Break Free
Bohemian Rhapsody
Radio Gaga

encore…
We Will Rock You
We Are The Champions

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Photos: Warner Music Hong Kong, tube.hk

Olivia Newton-John @ HKCEC Review – 11 May, 2016

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I have to admit before the concert, I wasn’t that familiar with Olivia Newton-John. Sure, Iike everyone I’ve heard of Grease and have listened to some of the songs from the musical which she starred in. However, unlike many of the audience I was not a fan. Olivia Newton-John is just not famous or well known among teenagers today, but music doesn’t have an expiry date and I was curious to hear these famous songs live.

The almost capacity crowd at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre were treated to a virtuoso performance with ONJ performing a selection of her hits including Xanadu, Physical and Hopelessly Devoted to You mixed in with some iconic covers. Perhaps most surprising was her energy and bright personality unlike many modern artists she turned up on time, appeared to enjoy performing and even cracked some jokes between songs. She belted out her songs with a passion. The audience enthusiastically and happily, if often tunelessly, singing along with her. The vibrant atmosphere was infectious and all too soon goodbyes and thank you’s were being said… After two hours, a standing ovation and cheers of of ‘Encore!’ saw Olivia return to perform one final song Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

A thoroughly enjoyable night out which gave me a new appreciation for songs that “are not my generation”. Live music can do that in a way that sometimes an album heard on headphones can’t. But until next time I need to update my itunes library.

Belle and Sebastian Concert Review

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Belle and Sebastian’s concert at Asia-Expo was so much better than my previous experience at this dreadful venue. For starters, there were real musicians on stage. Lots of them! The six band members were joined by what I assume were locally-hired musicians. I counted 13 people on stage at one time. This was no simple promotional exercise. The band was out to have fun. From the off, they engaged with the enthusiastic audience, an eclectic mix of young and old, local and expat.

The band started with Nobody’s Empire, quickly followed by I’m a Cuckoo and Expectations. The sound was good and the visuals were fun, light-hearted and entertaining. The Boy with the Arab Strap and Legal Man were my personal highlights of the evening. During these songs, members of the audience were invited up on stage to dance along with Stuart Murdoch and co. Being Hong Kong; plenty of selfies were taken by the dancers on stage.

During Piazza, New York Catcher a yellow umbrella appeared much to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. The tents maybe mostly gone, but the world remembers and continues it’s support.

For the well-deserved encore, Belle and Sebastian played a truncated version of There’s Too Much Love in response to an audience member’s request and ended the evening with a superb rendition of Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying, which left the crowd wanting more.

I went to this concert with low expectations simply because it was being held at Asia-Expo. I left on a high, ready to dust off and play my old Belle and Sebastian CDs. A great night’s entertainment.

Belle and Sebastian
When: 8pm, 10 February, 2015
Where: AsiaWorld Expo
How much: $760 from HKTicketing

Lily Allen Concert Review

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There is nowhere more soul destroying for a concert than the desolate Hall 10 of the Asia Expo Arena. Still, it’s Lily Allen and expectations are high. As always, getting anything decent to eat or drink was futile so I headed straight into the main hall. On stage a deejay was mixing a variety of sounds. The crowd seemed a bit thin on the ground but the atmosphere, nonetheless, was good. It wasn’t long before Lily Allen appeared, starting her set with ‘Sheezus’. She swiftly segued into ‘Not Fair’ and had the crowd singing along with her.The lighting and visuals were superb and Lily’s stage presence and interaction with the crowd were, as always, fantastic. But where was her band and where were the dancers? She performed several more songs from her latest album, ‘Sheezus’, along with a smattering of her older hits. Surprisingly she didn’t sing ‘Air Balloon’ and unsurprisingly turned down requests from the audience to sing ‘Alfie’. The visual arrangements continued to impress and there was a fun moment when she brought two hapless audience members up on stage to sing with her. The final song ’Fuck You’ had everyone singing along raucously.

It was a good concert but it did feel odd seeing her up there singing to a backing soundtrack mixed by the on-stage deejay rather than with a band. To be honest, it felt more like a glorified karaoke session than a real concert. Was this cost cutting on the artist’s behalf or by the promoter? If I had known in advance, I probably wouldn’t have bought a ticket for the concert. Is this a sign of the times? Will more artists coming to HK do the same and leave their band behind?

Lily Allen Live in Hong Kong 2015
When: 8pm, 31 January, 2015
Where: AsiaWorld-Expo