“Hong Kong, I’m only gonna ask you to do one thing for us – put your arms around someone,” James Hatcher, one half of the English electropop duo Honne asked of his fans towards the end of their first-ever stadium show in Hong Kong.
Together with singer and producer Andy Clutterbuck, the pair lit up McPherson Stadium with a spellbinding set of soul-infused, electropop tunes.
The two certainly took their time to glam up in the dressing room - there was an opening act, but the those of us in the audience had the arena to ourselves for more than an hour and a half. The whole floor was almost literally buzzing with excitement and anticipation until they finally took to the stage just after 9pm.
The pair seems to believe in keeping things clean. They may play electronically produced music, but none of it sounds overproduced.
And it’s evident in their stage setup, too. Apart from Clutterbuck and Hatcher, there were only three other band members onstage: backup singer BEKA, drummer Duayne Sanford, and bass guitarist Amadu Korama.
The accompanying images displayed on LED screens, however, took the opposite tack. Their team spared no effort in creating mind-boggling motion graphics which were perfectly synchronised to every beat.
Moreover, there were all sorts of “Easter eggs” hidden in the animations, with elements of their lyric videos expertly woven into every frame.
Even for first-time listeners, most of their songs are catchy enough to be picked up in one hearing. One of their most recent hits, Location Unknown, is a perfect example: “My location unknown/Tryna find a way back home to you again/I gotta get back to you/Gotta gotta get back to you.”
One of the highlights of the evening was BEKA. Despite officially being onbacking vocals, her mesmerising, angelic voice was like a breath of fresh air, contrasting with Clutterbuck’s slightly nasal voice, and she was often more of a featured vocalist than just creating harmonies.
Despite playing their song I Got You to a sold-out crowd of more than 1,800, the duo still managed to keep things fairly intimate, holding out their mics to fans to complete the lines. Whenever they sang the lyrics “I got/I got/I got you”, fans would sing “You got me/You got me/You got me” back to them.
Honne treated their Hong Kong fans to a little over an hour of tunes before heading off. But no doubt they will be back again. After all, as they said themselves, their name sounds almost exactly the same as “Hong”. And if the only thing they ask of us is to embrace the people we’ve come with, we’ll definitely welcome them back with open arms.