By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

It was a strange place to launch a band, but this is Hong Kong, and one makes the most of what is available and falls into budgetary constraints.

50’s, or Fifties, in its various incarnations, have given some of us the most surreal times of our lives…and not that far removed from a scene in a David Lynch movie. Often, all that’s missing are midgets and the candy coloured clown they called the snowman.

BACK AT THE 50s 1

When old time Hong Kong larger than life character Philip Chan, once known in the Sixties as The Singing Policeman, and lead singer for The Astronotes, one of the city’s original pop groups, walked in with two young local Hello Kitties, it just added to the surrealism of the night.

BACK AT THE 50s 2

Should I stay or should I go was playing in my head as I suffered from almost an acid flashback thinking back to those dazed and confused days of visiting the 50’s singing Dancing Queen followed by a conga line of dancing friends, the warped emotions of Moon River sung by my Danish lover at the time, and a longtime friend topple over the stage after insisting on sitting in with the house band, play the wrong chords and ruin many karaoke sessions for regulars.

BACK AT THE 50s 3

But this was 2017, 50’s was in a new location, a newly put together band called Back- no, not the Backstreet Boys-was debuting its music with the venue as weird as ever where the average age of the customer was around 65.

Tonight, however, family, and friends of Back brought a certain youthful exuberance to the night. The charming Swiss girlfriend of Xavier, the French-American singer-songwriter mentioned how good looking he was, and she was right. He had it all- a rippling fit body, dimples, a chiselled good looking face and a decent voice and musicianship armed with some appealing originals. A few day Xavier had sung a few songs at Adrenaline, the popular upmarket venue at Happy Valley racecourse, and had most definitely “passed the audition”.

BACK AT THE 50s 4

Is he the next Big Thing? Not really, but by Hong Kong standards, it’s always style over substance, and he and his recently-formed band with experienced Singaporean guitarist Gary holding it all together, did a splendid job of being something that could be going places. My songwriting partner Ben Semmens would probably disagree and say, Don’t give up the day job. But, hey…

BACK AT THE 50s 5

Without being the harbinger of negativity, Hong Kong audiences are easily bamboozled by style. So, while Xavier sang in a manly voice and a tight t-shirt, and his backup band played on Remote, there I was thinking, “This is why I left the warbling by the resident chanteuse at the Grand Hyatt’s Champagne Bar?”

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By 11.30 pm and the sounds of a cover of Come Together playing in my head, I returned toute de suite to the Champagne Bar where a Colombian hooker tried her best to revive me from Siestaville while I pulverised the venue’s singer into understanding why I think Jesus, King Arthur and Julius Caesar are the same person and the significance of the number 12.

Hong Kong, man, on a Saturday night. It’s just so out there, but going nowhere, it needs to be reined in.