A small trip out of Pattaya down Siam Country Club Road towards Lake Mabprachan takes you past The Venue, one of Pattaya’s premier rock‘n’roll pubs. On a recent visit there Mott the Dog was entertained by a great double bill of Pop’s Pattaya All Stars (a super group of local Thai musicians, the crème de la crème if you like) and a set by the Band of Smiles, which is Pop’s Pattaya All Stars plus the addition of Rick and Harpic Bryant.
Walking through the door our group was warmly welcomed by The Venue’s manageress Saruda Mokarat and shown to a bunch of tables well located at the side of the stage, with Pop already rockin’ away and leading his All Stars through their paces. They opened with a couple of instrumentals until breaking into Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues”, which really set the mood for a great musical evening.
The ever vigilant Pop noticed one patron wearing a vintage UFO t-shirt so next up we got “Doctor Doctor”. Needless to say the t-shirt wearer was soon leaping about all over the place in ecstasy. Ae, the lead singer for the All Stars is a real talent and can turn his hand to any form of music, but he really excels on the out and out rockers.
The All Stars kept on rockin’ until it came time to change the bands banner and become the Band of Smiles. The opening number “Nutbush City Limits” smoothly segued into “The Riverboat Song” and they were up and flying.
Harpic has developed into one of the finest singers, a real joy to hear and watch. Husband Rick drives away at the rhythm guitar plus playing the odd solo when he can fit it in. But this gives the band that extra powerful drive, allowing Pop to let rip on guitar. Rick’s presence also leaves space for the other musicians on stage to shine as well. With Big-T thrashing out the beat on the drums, Au driving the band along on bass and Toto (the magician of the keyboards) weaving his spells, what you are listening to is genuinely down and dirty rock music.
The band not only played brilliantly but also put on a show too, with constant movement on stage and shapes being thrown at every opportunity. The Band of Smiles set came to its conclusion with a raucous version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock‘n’Roll” with Harpic and Pop bringing the house down. The audience demanded more and finally got what they asked for, with Harpic taking center stage for a solo version of “Mercedes Benz” (shut your eyes for a second and you could have been at the Royal Albert Hall listening to Janis Joplin.)
By no means finished, this brought Pop’s Pattaya All Stars back on the stage and not wishing to be outdone they came out with a point to prove. They tore into the heavier end of their material, paying homage to the likes of Uriah Heep, Motorhead and Golden Earring and they literally had the audience in the palm of their hands. After several rocking numbers things were brought to a conclusion by a simply stunning version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, with Pop’s guitar solo at the end faultless. But still the crowd would not let them go, and we got some Chuck Berry to send us on our way.
Live music at The Venue offers a great evening out and Pop’s Pattaya All Stars play Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (you have to be a bit lucky to catch the whole of the Band of Smiles). If you are out that way and have at least a few rock & roll bones in your body, be sure to call in – you will not be disappointed!