Honne’s first Bangkok show was unforgettable

Honne’s first Bangkok show was unforgettable

Exactly 1 week ago I had one of the best live music experiences of my life. Honne, who have come to be one of my favorite bands over the last year, came and played in Bangkok for the first time and it was unforgettable.

But you know what was even more unforgettable? I got to meet them and watch them have an impromptu jam at a rooftop bar the night before their show!

It’s taken me awhile to write about it, but I wanted to take time and tell the story in its entirety, because for me, these are the moments live music is all about. Over the last year I’ve been privileged to see bands from a different perspective than just in front of them on stage, or just through marketing and social media, and it’s changed the way I feel about music and artists.

But more on that later, first let me give you some background.

If you haven’t heard of Honne before, they’re an electronic / soul duo from the UK who have released some fantastic material since they started out in 2014, releasing their debut album ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ mid last year after releasing quite a few singles and EPs. That album release and what has followed has been a great period for them, with tours in the US, Europe and Aisa. Honne have also received a lot of love and gained a large fanbase in this region, with much of the music media in this region like Sepsakon, Bandwagon and more naming their album as one of the best albums of last year.

I’d be hard pressed though to name another band that are quite like Honne though, with James Hatcher even saying in an interview with CLASH, “No one’s ever said to us, oh, you sound just like this person … and that’s what we always set out to achieve”. For me, I just love them because it’s the sort of music I put on when I want to stroll around the city and think about life or what I put on when driving my girlfriend home. The lyrics are relatable, gentle and honest and I just love the stories the songs tell.

Honne clearly have a lot of fans here and when tickets for their concert went on sale in late January, they sold out extremely quickly, with many fans missing out on their show in the end. Event organizer HAVE YOU HEARD? did their best and had another batch of tickets for sale a few days later, with those selling out as well. As their concert approached, there was a lot of excitement for their show, but also a fair amount of desperation from the many fans hoping beyond hope for a ticket, with countless fans imploring on Facebook and a lot of sad reactions to any event updates. HAVE YOU HEARD? actually received some rough feedback over the concert’s ticket situation, but I don’t understand how they could be the ones faulted. Buyers of online tickets hit quite a few snags, but as Ticket Melon was used for ticket sales, their system is what was actually responsible. This was the first show from the SINGHA LIGHT Live Series Vol. 2, so we’ll probably see more improvements over the next 4 shows that the series will be serving up this year.

 

But you know what was even more unforgettable? I got to meet them and watch them have an impromptu jam at a rooftop bar the night before their show!

 

The night before the concert I was hanging out with some friends at Skytrain Jazz Bar, a really local spot close to Victory Monument BTS station that is popular on Monday nights as they have regular live music. My friend Will Corbin has been running the Monday gig for quite a few years now, and while it isn’t officially an open mic night, the guys don’t mind having people up on stage sharing their songs and I’ve witnessed some amazing nights with sometimes almost a dozen people on stage jamming.

But little did I know how that specific night would be one of my favorites ever.

About halfway through our evening my girlfriend got contacted by the team who was showing Honne around town. They were looking for somewhere good that was open on a Monday and asked about Skytrain Jazz Bar. To make a long story short, not long afterwards, Honne and their entourage were there!

I must admit I was nervous to meet them at first, but I had nothing to worry about as they were just so extremely chill. Over the course of the evening conversation topics varied from the obvious things like where they had gone during their day in Bangkok or how touring the US had been, to more interesting things like how bands definitely look more cool in marketing shots than in person. I expected a band of this caliber to stay on their own a bit, but they made their way around the rooftop bar, getting to know others and watching the other musicians performances. After a little persuading the whole band made their way to the stage to jam out some songs, with local solo act Phum Viphurit – who had been helping as their tour guide – joining them. They sang mainly originals but also a few covers and I was in awe of how good they sounded on what I often find is a poor sound system. I also especially enjoyed hearing their backup singer Naomi Scarlett singing lead during some songs. As they sang, I of course got my phone out to record them playing, but after 2 songs I just put it away, as I just wanted to savor the moment.

I guess what stood out to me was seeing a band who, while they have fans all over the world, are still learning, growing and exploring. When someone brought up some interesting facts about local life in Thailand the band would stop and listen and it felt intriguing to see a band on tour, taking inspiration from the places they were going and the people they were meeting. I’ve always felt that seeing a band play in your city is special because that moment won’t happen again. By the time the band comes back the next time a few years later, they’ll have grown and changed and their music has too and it’s been so special to get up close and personal with bands like Honne, The Radio Dept and Broods over the last year and see that firsthand. As we all enjoyed the music and the evening I really felt like this is how live music should be experienced, not just getting to know the songs but the people behind them.

 

The feeling at the concert is difficult to describe, but I guess the best way to put it is that each song was performed perfectly, each song was somebody’s favorite and each song got a unique response – and that’s what made the concert so great, it was filled with so many wonderful little moments.

 

The next day, I got to the venue a bit early and it was already packed. The excitement was everywhere and people were clearly happy that they were among the select few who were able to get tickets for this event. I was really impressed with the organization for this event. Voice Space was great as always, but you could see the extra care put in, as this was a sold out event. There was first aid visibly handy, beer booths both inside and outside and more bathroom options than usual.

I must admit that I didn’t watch the two opening acts entire sets, but what I did see was interesting. The first opening act Plern Pan Perth was a bold choice, with a very experimental sound. His first tracks really lacked structure and I don’t think I was the only one in the audience that found it hard to relate to them, but as his set progressed his work was more rhythmic and steady and I those tracks got the audience more involved and moving with the beat. X0809 were the second opening act and their singles were solid, but I must admit I found it hard to listen to a band playing covers right before a band like Honne, even if covers like ‘Crave’ by Flight Facilities are really good. Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but I guess all in all I wanted to see opening acts that matched Honne’s style a little bit more.

Having anticipated this show for quite some time, it felt like an age for Honne’s turn to finally come, but when it did, it was every bit as wonderful as I imagined.

Starting off with ‘Treat You Right’, they stole the attention of everyone in the room and held it till the very last minute. I can’t stress enough how wonderful Andy Clutterbuck’s vocals are live and the sound system was perfectly tuned for them, matched by a large LED screen behind the band with their visuals.

The strong start to the show continued with ‘Coastal Love’ up next, an obvious favorite of much of the audience, followed by ‘Till The Evening’ and ‘Top To Toe’, both numbers that really took advantage of the strong sound system, the songs seemingly rushing through you during the big moments and notes, just fantastic!

Next was ‘The Night’ which slowed things down in a very romantic fashion, followed by ‘Good Together’ which the crowd absolutely loved, with Andy inviting the crowd to join in at the end. It was a wonderful moment, he took his time, counted the crowd in, and as everyone sang together I just got goosebumps. He ended by saying “I have something special to tell you guys … Pom Ruk Khun Kub (I love you), it’s true”. Cue the screams.

Things calmed down a bit as they sang ‘It Ain’t Wrong Loving You’ and ‘Loves The Job You Hate’, picking up again with the groovy ‘3AM’, during which backup singer Naomi got a lot of love.

Time just flew by as they sang a personal favorite of mine ‘No Place Like Home’, ‘One at a Time Please’ and ‘Gone Are The Days’, which was another crowd favorite and got people dancing. The feeling at the concert is difficult to describe, but I guess the best way to put it is that each song was performed perfectly, each song was somebody’s favorite and each song got a unique response – and that’s what made the concert so great, it was filled with so many wonderful little moments.

 

… it must have took HAVE YOU HEARD? just the right amount of research, communication and organization to get them in – followed by great management and treating them well when they were in town so that they’ll want to come back again

 

But up next was the biggest surprise of all.

The song was ‘Someone That Loves You’ which features Izzy Bizu and is probably Honne’s biggest song, but unknown to most of the crowd, Izzy was in Thailand and had agreed to play the song on stage with Honne. Honne and Izzy had set it all up publicly on Twitter before the show, but most of the audience didn’t know this, I mean I didn’t even know until I read Fungjaizine’s article explaining it. I had bumped into Honne’s backup singer Naomi earlier in the evening though and she was with Izzy and had introduced me, so I guess a few people knew. In fact Izzy and her boyfriend stood in the crowd for most of the show, most people around her not even knowing who she was, which I found really cool.

Ultimately it was a really special moment, Izzy is an amazing vocalist and the crowd loved every moment of the song, clearly feeling lucky that they got to see a rare moment like this, something the audiences in the Philippines and Indonesia didn’t get.

That was the last song of the evening, but almost knowing that the band would come back, the encore calls from the audience weren’t that strong. And come back they did, ending with 3 of their very best songs. ‘Woman’, my absolute favorite song of theirs was up first, and Andy preluded it by asking the crowd to put their arm around the person next to them, and it was nice to see people’s reactions. They finished off with ‘All In The Value’ and ‘Warm on a Cold Night’, the band really enjoying the last moments, with Andy jumping up onto the barrier to get close to the crowd near the end, the crowd singing along.

It was a great evening and I have to commend HAVE YOU HEARD? for the effort. I might be over-thinking this, but I really do feel that for a Thai organizer to bring in an act like Honne is great for the scene. This is a great band that are on a high and it must have took HAVE YOU HEARD? just the right amount of research, communication and organization to get them in – followed by great management and treating them well when they were in town so that they’ll want to come back again. For real, the band really looked like they enjoyed their time here, posting on Facebook afterwards “Bangkok, rao rak koon krub BIG TIME”. That is what consumers needs in an event organizer, so thumbs up to HAVE YOU HEARD?

All in all, it was a wonderful experience to meet Honne and hear them live. Musicians like Honne are keeping music the way it should be and I can’t wait to see them live here again, and I’m 100% sure it will happen.

— Written by Abner Olivieri, images courtesy of HAVE YOU HEARD?

Find out more about HAVE YOU HEARD? and their events
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HaveYouHeard.Live
Events – https://www.facebook.com/HaveYouHeard.Live/events

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