A decent sized crowd showing up at the Kia Theater to witness this English band formed by core members Gary Daly on vocals/keyboard and Eddie Lundon on guitar. Along with the front act of Peter Coyle, lead vocalist of the Lotus Eaters.
Often overlooked, China Crisis is one of those eighties bands that received high praise from critics, yet limited commercial success, moreover, it certainly shouldn’t be. With a bit of research into their music, it’s obvious there’s a deep songwriting skill at work here. Perhaps forgoing the recognition of other bands from that era, due to the subtle and melodic nature of their sound.
They did dabble in various experimental sounds, as any synth-pop band would, mixing various styles into a pop sensibility. Consequently, that is what has endeared them to their longtime fans, by maintaining a distinct identity and direction. Accordingly, not as much of a creative restlessness that you often experience with musical groups, with an itch they just can’t scratch, jumping around to various genres. But let’s face it, most of the memorable stuff from the 80’s was more in-your-face, loud and full of rage. On the contrary, China Crisis reached a moderate level of international success from a much more sublet sound.
China Crisis were part of the new wave sensation, their success attributed to finding the right balance of the breeziness of jazz music, to the orchestral mood that classical instruments evoke, combined with the catchiness of a synth-pop commercial hit. They’ve had a string of albums in the eighties with various hit songs, following an on-again, off-again album release over the years, band members have come and gone but Daly and London have stayed the course.
Starting from their debut album, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It’s Fun to Entertain, which was released in December 1982, to their latest effort Autumn in the Neighborhood, released just a couple of years ago, their seven albums titles along with a long list of live and best-of releases, is impressive by any standard.
Certainly a treat with Peter Coyle starting out the evening warming up the crowd in fine fashion. Typically the front band for concerts here is not an international performer, it’s usually a local band that you’ve seen live before at your favorite hangout. The Lotus Eaters, just as China Crisis, hail from England and began their career with a core duo of Peter Coyle and Jem Kelly. Coyle performing this evening as a solo artist with a band of Filipino musicians backing him up. Other than one stumble, being unsure of the next song on the setlist, the band performed exceptionally well.
Coyle’s vocal prowess hasn’t been left behind in the eighties either, performing in a manner that would surprise most fans from days gone by. Subtle when the need is, then lifting up the power when required. Peter also covered the entire stage well, moving in an intentional manner, at times even on his knees matching the emotion in the songs. “German Girl” and “The First Picture of You” were a couple of crowd favorites and Peter stepped off the stage into the audience to get up close and personal with the fans in the venue. Keep an eye out for more, according to the bands Facebook page they are working on releasing an album called A Plug-in Called Nostalgia.
Without much of a break in between sets, China Crisis took the stage to an enthusiastic audience. The duo has performed here before, in various formats, from acoustic concerts to full bands, one visit backed by local legends Rivermaya. This night would have them on stage with touring musicians Jack Hymers on keyboards and synths along with Eric Animan on saxophone, both younger musicians but impressive indeed, also backed by local musicians.
The various musicians blended well and contributed with the skill required to create a sound of something you might hear on a record. The setlist eased through recognizable hit songs, smoothly transitioning to newer selections, basically working their way through a considerable back catalog. I enjoyed “King in a Catholic Style,” with a catchy backbeat and the stylized guitar work of Lundon, when “Black Man Ray” and “Wishful Thinking” followed, most folks were on their feet swaying to the sound.
You also noticed almost immediately the undeniable charismatic stage presence of Daly, a beneficial attribute from someone who has been around the block. With the only hiccup for the night was when Daly was searching for a towel to wipe his brow, of course making light of the situation. With a bright energy on stage, accordingly, everyone in the audience felt grounded and was assured of a solid evening of music. He wit-fully addressed the fans periodically with a playful banter that only comes from years of experience.
Daly was attentive to the audience and when he noticed a group of women dancing in the crowd, he invited them up on stage. He also came down from the stage to mingle with the audience as he performed, generously posing for selfies and welcoming everyone as you would into your home.
The concert produced an overall characteristic of their trademark sound. Certainly, a night worthy of their longtime musical career, highlighting lyrics that are still as well-done as ever and mesmerizing the audience with Daly’s distinct silky voice. Shout out to Steve O’Neal Productions for another job well done. A confident and comfortable show, which took folks down memory lane and by the end of the concert had everyone smiling with delight. Goes to show you this duo still has more to give.