Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Try Colour: The Jezabels Rock Hong Kong!

There were 4 bands on the bill tonight but I really only braved the rush hour crowds on the MTR to see The Jezabels.

The Australian four-piece played a nearly 30-minute set at the KITEC Centre out in Kowloon Bay.

The concert was part of the People's Party series put on by Untitled Asia.

Also on the bill were 9 Maps, The Naked and Famous, and Metronomy.

But first, The Jezabels.

Lead singer Hayley Mary stalked the stage like a new wave Pat Benatar, or a female Jarvis Cocker. A commanding vocalist who's already (rightly) earned comparisons to Chrissie Hynde -- and not just due to a fondness for leather trousers -- Hayley Mary has the pipes to deliver the big tunes laid down by the other three members of The Jezabels. It's like Kate Bush fronting U2: focused force and epic songs that make personal drama into the stuff of windswept rock.

Like Doves but more emotional, The Jezabels can turn on a dime; listen to "Hurt Me" and "Try Colour" in those videos below and you'll see and hear what I mean. There are moments of gentleness and fury there, equal parts shoegaze and hard postpunk, that seem to contrast nicely.

Nik Kaloper on drums pounded an almost tribal beat -- think Paul Ferguson on mid-period Killing Joke stuff -- that kept things grounded.

On guitars -- and numerous effects pedals -- was Samuel Lockwood who hovered on the side of the stage working his magic. The Jezabels are the rarest of bands where the lead guitarist is not out front, hogging the spotlight.

And acting as backing vocalist and anchor was keyboardist Heather Shannon. Ms. Shannon introduced things and seemed to be the one to kick things off.

There's a great contrast in the music of The Jezabels: on one hand you've got the very human, almost untamed drumming of Kaloper and the passionate vocals of Mary, and on the other you've got the pleasantly wonky guitar and keyboard effects from Lockwood and Shannon.

It's a cool mix, somewhere between the shoegaze of early Lush and the Britpop stompers of Sleeper.

I really enjoyed new band 9 Maps. Clearly a young band, they were refreshingly human compared to the overwhelming light-shows of both The Naked and Famous and Metronomy. Intimate indie that had melody and heart, the tunes from 9 Maps were charming and tuneful.

I bought a copy of their CD from the merchandise table on my way out.

The Naked and Famous certainly spent money on their stage-show. After a rousing opening, I got a bit bored with what they were doing on stage. Forceful but not melodic, The Naked and Famous have their strong points but they weren't quite my thing.

England's Metronomy were peppy and energetic -- like a punky take on Air, or a less electronic Phoenix, I guess -- but they seemed sort of lackluster after the barnstorming run by The Jezabels.

Follow The Jezabels on their official website:

Or on their Facebook page:

The Jezabels - "Endless Summer" live in Hong Kong, 10 January 2012...

The Jezabels - "Hurt Me" live in Hong Kong, 10 January 2012...

The Jezabels - "Try Colour" live in Hong Kong, 10 January 2012...