Clash at Asean Rocks HRC

In the belief that music had the power to transcend all geographical and cultural barriers, I witnessed day 4 of Asean Rocks at the Hard Rock Caf? Singapore to see if Yellow Skin (Vietnam) and Clash (Thailand) were speaking the universal language.

If a great show was in store that night, it was well hidden in the subdued atmosphere before the gig, the calm before the storm. Most of the early birds looked like your average diners rather than the hardcore travelling fans that one might have expected. Nonetheless, the friendly waiter assured me that he had seen Clash during their sound check, and they were ?really, really good?. The anticipation was building.

Yellow Skin opened the proceedings, and anyone who caught sight of the tight jeans, matching black outfits (with glow-in-the-dark prints, no less) and enormous hair would have immediately known what to expect from the heavy metal veterans. Opening number S.O.S. set the tone for the rest of their melancholic and war-inspired set, which feature a seemingly endless supply of guitar shredding, bass tap and slap solos and searing rock vocals.

Though it may have not been everyone?s cup of tea, it was easy for the audience to appreciate the sublime technical abilities of the instrumentalists. Even The Beatles were not spared as their classic hit Come Together was reproduced in old-school rock glory, which was truly an eye opener.
The band ended with a medley of songs and instrumental pieces, complete with string-breaking bends and minute-long solos, truly grateful of the attentiveness of the audience. Did I mention the guitar solos?

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During the break a Thai wave slowly swept Hard Rock Caf?. Dozens of Clash faithful made their presence felt by swarming to the edge of the stage as the band?s techs began setting up the instruments. The sense of excitement from the crowd was enough to make one feel as if he were a tourist who had mistakenly stumbled into a Bangkok bar.

When the band finally took the stage and broke out into their hit single Fai Rak (Flame of Love), what followed was pure pandemonium.

A discord of shrill female voices filled the air as frontman and heartthrob Preeti Barameeanand (Bank) came within touching distance of the fans. Such was the energy the band emitted that midway through the song I could actually hear grown men screaming like teenage girls.

The opener set the bar for a series of crunching rock numbers with guitarists and Gibson admirers Thapana Na Bangchang (Hack) and Thanapol Rueksompus (Pol) driving their respective Les Paul and SG to the limit. It also was most pleasing to hear Sukrit Sripaoraya (Soom) getting down and dirty by distorting his bass delightfully into the mix, courtesy of a MXR M80.
The band didn?t always crunch out their songs, but even on mellower songs such as Rak Jing Rak Plom (True Love / Fake Love), Bank?s fusion of rap and emo styles, combined with the pulsating drums of Anad Darbpettikorn (Yak) kept the energy levels just as high, prompting Pol to head bang while strumming an electro-acoustic.

Chemistry between the band members was undeniable as they delivered a tight set with a well-polished and seasoned performance. From start to finish the audience found them irresistible, with Bank having exchanges with the crowd in Thai. There was even a little seven-man mosh which I found highly amusing, but nevertheless a testament of Clash?s ability to rock the audience.

At the end it all seemed to end too soon, and with the chants for an encore left unanswered, MC for the night, MTV?s VJ Colby had to face the brunt of the disappointment of the crowd, to the extent of nearly being booed of stage. It was a pity though that the performance by Clash was, by large, an all-Thai affair.

Once again the universal language had spoken, and the message was loud and clear.