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

Megabites: Mr Greek

Amongst the plethora of eateries in Mongkok is the recently opened Mr Greek. The Bute Street outlet is the first Asian restaurant (operated as a franchise) of the popular Canadian chain and offers a wide range of popular Greek and Canadian dishes.

Simple sides and snacks include souvlaki, spanakopita ($35) grilled vegetables ($15), roasted potatoes ($15) and fresh made pita with delicious fresh dips ($15/$19).

The mains are generously sized and include six different variations on the classic Canadian poutine: ‘Bacon Lovers’, ‘Hot Dogging’, Tzatziki, Guacamole and Spicy Feta are all $40. The signature Oh My Gravy ($40) is a piled high plate of chips, of the big fat variety-cooked fluffy in the middle, covered in delicious home-made gravy, mozzarella, cheese curds and feta cheese. It’s a lovely filling plate of carb to enjoy alone or with a friend and perfect washed down with a cold beer (liquor licence coming soon).

The selection of stuffed pita includes roast chicken ($45), pulled pork ($45) and the signature Apollo Wrap ($75) which is a pita full of 8oz of fresh beef, salad, fresh Tzatziki dressing and a side of chips. It’s a big fresh mouthful!

For seafood lovers there’s calamari and soft shell crab offered as mains ($100) or taster sizes. And for the salad aficionados there are grilled chicken ($55), grilled salmon ($78) and tangy chickpea ($35).

All the ingredients are freshly prepared on the premises or imported from Greece and portions are large enough that you really can share with your friends. Currently there are no desserts, but these should be coming soon.

It’s not fancy, but it’s tasty, filling and good size portions, what’s not to like! So if you’re in the neighbourhood and looking for a snack or a filling meal then check out Mr Greek.

Mr Greek: 64 Bute Street, Mongkok. Tel: 2866 9308
Opening Hours: Noon-Midnight everyday
www.facebook.com/Mr-Greek-Asia

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.

Pillow Fight!

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Clutching our pillows as we left Central station, my friend and I were stoked with anticipation as we strode towards Chater Garden. We were about to participate in our first ever large-scale pillow fight! Surrounding us were groups, families and single warriors, some in fancy dress or pyjamas, equipped with an assortment of pillows big and small.

We arrived just in time for as we joined the crowd in the centre of the garden pillows were raised and the countdown started “…4,3,2,1!” WHAM!

I was immediately hit on the head by a large pillow. Turning to see who attacked me I saw a man grinning at me, and quickly took my revenge whacking him with my pillow.

It was quickly apparent that my tiny pillow was not totally effective as either a shield from my attackers or to swat at others. Enveloped in mob of pillow-fighters though speed and nimbleness are key and my $14.90 IKEA special was perfect.

The central melee was surrounded by photographers looking for that perfect shot as anyone in range from costumed superheroes to super enthusiastic nobodies were pummeled with our cushiony weapons.

Impromptu arenas formed as rings of resting fighters and photographers focused on individual pillow contests where dancing children put the moves on and defeated adults, friend battled friend and lovers swatted each to the accompaniment of cheers and whirring motor drives.

Bits of fluff and stuffing were soon flying as pillows succumbed to the battering. Time flies when you’re having this much fun and the hour passed quickly, leaving exhausted and grinning participants comparing their best swings and taking selfies with new friends.

After helping clean up we exited stage left with large smiles and dancing fingers as we shared our enjoyment “You missed out, it was soo much fun”. To whoever started International Pillow Fight Day – what a wonderful idea! We’ll be back with bigger pillows, more friends… but what to wear?

Megabites: Greenhouse

Greenhouse Fried ChickenGreenhouse on the 10th floor of Times Square is the latest outlet from the Gaia Group. The menu shares a theme and several dishes with sister restaurants Townhouse in Lan Kwai Fong and Glasshouse in IFC, but the 7000 square foot Greenhouse’s menu is different enough for a separate visit. The bright open plan layout is big enough that, unlike many smaller places, if you want to relax and chat with friends over some bites and drinks you can – without that feeling that the waiter wants you gone…

The main menu is split into 6 sections – small bites, bigger bites, robata bites, garden bites, pizza bites, main bites with a separate sweet bites menu. Prices range from $48 for the small bites to $568 for a 24oz rib eye. The dishes that caught our eye were the bacon wrapped scallops ($52/skewer) and coco-cola prime beef ($58/skewer) robata. Not cheap per skewer, but the portions are large, the beef juicy. The scallops were big and tasty, but the bacon (sadly) was barely noticeable and (sadly again, as a bacon lover) added nothing to the flavour.

Greenhouse-lasagna-webThe Masaman curry lasagna with roasted mushrooms, chicken and smoked mozerella ($118) – it’s such an eclectic sounding mix that it shouldn’t work. Yet it does, the curry with the melted cheese and pasta, the vegetables and chicken providing textures. Just a delicious dish and one we’ll return for time and again.

The wagyu burger with black truffle mayonnaise ($148) is a big juicy 7oz fine ground wagyu patty served in a sesame seed bun. The patty was evenly cooked, served pink, nicely juicy with a good meaty bite. The bun is fresh and doesn’t disintegrate as the juice seeps down. It would be nice if the dish came with fries, but you can order those on the side ($68) with more black truffle mayonnaise. That makes a burger and fries almost $250 (including the obligatory 10% service charge) which, in any restaurant, is a lot for a burger.

Greenhouse-candy-cush-webThe signature Balinese style fried chicken ($258) was perfectly cooked, the chicken meat moist, while the skin was crispy. The sambal sauce is spicey, and goes nicely with fries as well.

For dessert there are pizza crepes ($98) and the fun ‘candy crush’ ($118), a selection of ice cream, fruit, chocolate and sweets served in a stone mortar and pestle for you to crush and enjoy with friends.

The drinks menu includes all that you’d expect plus a selection of ice green tea lattes ($48). The green bamboo latte is a combination of sugar cane syrup, green tea, Gaia coffee and cream – a nice mix of flavours, the coffee adding a little sharpness to the green tea. There are ‘frozen’ drinks, the Pandan leaves and coconut is combination of fresh Pandan leaves, coconut cream, condensed milk, soft brown sugar and hazelnut topping. The signature milk tea ($48) served in a jug is a little milky for our taste but there’s a lot worse being served around town.

Service is polite and efficient, the dishes bc tried were well cooked, nicely presented and reasonably sized. It’s hard to find fault in Greenhouse – it is, what it is, an enjoyable place to eat out.

Greenhouse
Shop 1004, Shop 1004, Time Square, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2383 4022

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

Rihanna @ CotaiArena, 13 September, 2013 – Review

An admission – I have no Rihanna tracks in my iTunes library, so beyond knowing she had a penchant for arriving late on stage I had no real expectations heading to her concert in Macau. And afterwards, well I have to admit to being confused as to why she’s so popular… The overseas media hype for the Diamonds tour reached the front pages and beyond the complaints of arrogance about arriving on stage so late (as she did here) spoke of mega production values, dynamic costume changes… – the Venetian and local fans paid good money for the ‘Rihanna experience’ so why do so many artists still think it’s ok to come to Asia and short-change their fans.

The 80 minute mostly lip-synced concert was continually broken up as the diva disappeared for what obviously a costume change in places she values more – but here it meant she spent almost 25% of the show off-stage. If you’re going to do a stripped-down show, then at least make the effort to create a ‘proper show’ rather than run the same show but forget the clothing changes etc. Oddly enough Rihanna, courtesy of the global media which panders to your ego and made you very rich – your fans around the world are fully aware of what the full ‘Rihanna Diamonds Tour experience’ is… and the CotaiArena has the facilities so that can’t be used as an excuse.

With her ladyship lacking any sort of stage presence and slipping off stage after almost every song, the first hour of concert was bitty and dire, sitting stage right the mix was so bass heavy that Rihanna’s supposedly strong voice was completely lost in the mix. Sadly not one song had me going, ooh that’s good, need to go buy the album. The energy levels picked up around the hour point when a medley of hits/songs the fans knew had the CotaiArena rocking and oddly rather than leaving the audience on a high the encore was a semi-ballad, where yet again from my seat her vocals were less than impressive.

One fan bemused me though, he’d spent lots of money on his ticket then stuck his ipad infront of his face for most of the concert as he used the not very good ipad camera to record the show and watched the show on his ipad screen.

It’s great for music lovers that the Venetian as part of its ‘integrated resort’ commitment is bringing such events to Macau, but they should insist – for the premium they’re obviously paying to do so – that artists bring their full show rather than some bastardized version of it.

In truth it wasn’t much of an ‘experience’ from a supposed global superstar, nor I think was it one that satisfied many of her wildly expectant fans. The bus queues outside after the show weren’t buzzing with sounds of happy fans discussing their favourite parts of the show, more the practicalities of reaching the border/ferry before it closed. Many artists complain of Asia’s attitude to music piracy, but when artists screw their fans at live shows as Rihanna did, pot kettle black/hypocrisy comes to mind.

Thank you to the Venetian Macau who provided bc’s ticket free of charge.