Here in Shanghai, the burgeoning music scene features bands of all ages, nationalities and styles. I’d like to think our temporary, but all-too-brief additional gave the lucky few present on Friday night something very exclusive.
Moganshangrila: a band name picked from Bronwen’s suggestion of using the location where Felix and I first met (Moganshan) mixed with the paradise lost of Shangri-la. Kind of fitting.
From November’s first musical meeting between me and Felix through to playing live for the first (and probably) last time on Friday 22nd March 2013, the last few months have been incredibly proficient from a song-writing perspective. Felix and I somehow managed to compose 12 songs from an equal number of rehearsals, and again somehow managed to play live with the full, five-member band despite having only rehearsed that way on three previous occasions. We have fairly different musical influences (we probably have more in common with what we both dislike than what we like), but when it comes to writing songs, Felix and I have an almost intuitive connection. Each time we meet for a rehearsal, a new song appears.
So on Friday night, Moganshangrila played live for the first and probably last time. Over in the OV Gallery in the Art District of Shanghai (co-incidentally, but not deliberately, on Moganshan Road), we played to a mixture of local friends, work colleagues and language teachers. A fantastic night, nerve-wracking but utterly rewarding. Shanghai has given so much to me and Bron over the last year; it continues to do so right up to the end.
So the band then:
Michi: A teacher colleague of Felix’s, proving to be an effervescent and enthusiastic bass player, joining the band at very late notice but picking up the songs incredibly quickly. Also very forgiving, since I decided to experiment a little with one of the songs whilst live on stage but forgot I had a bass player playing along with me.
Chong: A local friend we met whilst on a trip to Wuxi last year, currently learning the piano but joining the band under a little duress after repeated requests from me (we desperately needed a keyboard player). So brave to play live despite being relatively new to the piano, and very new to my Novation box of electronic tricks. Chong’s effortlessly calm, serene stage presence increased the cool factor of the band by a factor of 10.
James: A student from Singapore temporarily living in Shanghai who responded to Felix’s online advertisements for a drummer. And what a drummer – incredibly talented, intuitive and energetic. Thanks also to James for dramatically lowering the average age of the band (not quite by a factor of 10 but not far off).
Felix: In some cases, able to listen to a song for the first time and then add a melody to it on the second listen. An inspired lyricist, with biting, abstract wit. In some cases managing the rare feat of writing lyrics perfect for singing along whilst also carrying a hidden agenda/depth/message (study the lyrics at your peril if you’ve ever been drunk in Felix’s presence).
Me: A very happy guitar player, delighted to have some of my songs (a couple written when 16) finally given a leading melody and lyrics, and played to a larger audience than at a barbecue when in student days.
Thankyou so much for our supporting cast members too, particularly Bronwen for allowing us to rehearse on her birthday.
After our 12 song set, the audience demanded an encore, so we played “The Pool” once more due to its relevance to many of the audience members (unknowing/unwilling victims to Felix’s lyrical dissection of the pool party evening). And for a second encore: a song called “First Last”, so fitting as the first and last song of definitely our first and probably our last ever live appearance.
Here are a couple of video links to the performance:
Here, for posterity (mainly mine) is the set list:
- First Last
- The Girl
- All The Tunes
- Crowd Forty
- All The Tunes
- Treasure Lost
- CNY U
- Love Now
- The Pool
- Twenty One
- Protest! Song!
And finally: thankyou to all our friends and colleagues who came along and supported us for the evening!