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CONCERT REVIEW: The Great Ladies Of Song

This concert should have been called the The Great Fun Ladies Of Song. With energy and humour, Grammy Award-winning singers Patti Austin and Janis Siegel, together with the home star, Elisa Chan Kit-Ling, took us through a varied set which included Patti’s chart-topping 80s ballads (these are the songs I remember), to Gershwin, Suzanne Vega, and jazz standards. The band were no lightweights either with Richard Hammond (not of Top Gear fame) on double bass and bass guitar, Michael Ricchiuti on piano and Steve Hass on drums.

Chan, aka Miss Chan Chan, and a Hong Kong TV celebrity judge, kicked off with a set of two songs, Platinum Elevators and Thousand Needles. I can’t for the life of me remember whether they were sung in Cantonese or English, so clearly it didn’t matter.

Renowned as the chanteuse of long-running vocal group The Manhattan Transfer, Siegel sang a lively set which included Sidewinder, Caramel, and the boppy Too Darn Hot. We loved it. According to Siegel, this was her first time performing in Hong Kong without The Manhattan Transfer; clearly she is very comfortable going solo.

Austin arrived on stage with so much personality you just knew she had been doing this for, as she told us, as long as Tom Jones. That’s 60 years. And for the record, Tom Jones was the last show I saw at the Baptist University, quite some time ago.

ladies of song
Patti Austin enchants the crowd.

Austin’s set included Baby Come To Me and How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, the two chart-topping duets she sung way back in the 80s with James Ingram. Austin also treated us to jazz standards such as How High The Moon, made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, and You Cant’ Take That Away From Me, a Fred Astaire hit.

The show drew to an end with a duet (不了情) between Austin and Chan, sung in Mandarin. It seemed that Chan had been the teacher and the audience went wild with approval. Smart move for Austin.

It’s a shame that the Hong Kong Baptist University is awkward to get to and the Academic Community Hall even harder to find. As we circled a perimeter fence we bumped into a group of ten other people trying to find the hall. Some got a taxi and we got a tip from a student: head north of Junction Road, past the Oen Hall Building, and up an indistinct ramp and stairs and then you are there.

Despite our little detour, the show was a sensation. As I write this, tickets are still available on the door for the last show tonight, so don’t miss your chance to meet the great (fun) ladies of song tonight! And don’t get lost.

When: October 20, (8.15pm)

Where: Academic Community Hall, Hong Kong Baptist University, 224 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong

How much: $380 – $880 (tickets available on the door)

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