The Crazy Elephant pub in Clarke Quay is best known for its blues-rock music. So you’d be forgiven if you were one of those who turned up on Saturday night expecting to see regular musicians like John Chee jamming it up, but instead found guitarist Rosli Mansor playing songs from his latest instrumental album, Deeper Than Purple.
Here’s the thing about instrumental performances though: Most of the time it’s a case of “you either get it or you don’t”. Thankfully, in Rosli’s case, that didn’t apply. It seemed that everybody, from fans to tourists, were tapped into what was happening on the stage. Even couple of the Crazy Elephant staff were heard commenting about the gig. And you’ve got to be something if the wait staff can give you time of day – even if it is for 15 seconds. Well, at least that’s what it seemed like.
As far as instrumentalists go, Rosli isn’t lacking in talent. The long-haired guitarist was in fine form, and ably backed by Keyjohan on drums, Azman on bass and Khairil on guitar. And it’s still a joy to see a performance by someone who really knows how to coax delicious tones out of his guitar. Whether it was the moody melodic runs or fiery finger-tapping on the fretboard, Rosli didn’t put one note wrong. And he even treated the audience to a vocal blues number (this is coming from a guy who used to say that he was “shy” about singing).
Certainly, the best performances came from the songs that had a deep emotional core. Sorry, I Am Late, dedicated to his late father, and easily one of the best songs on the album, was sublime live, as was Mocking Monsters, Rachel’s Dance and Towmy’s Secret.
There were a few dingbats – such as the occasional uneven sound mix levels and guitars going out of tune at the beginning of the show – but nothing could distract from the exquisite musical expression by Rosli and his band. Not even the hottie waitress in the denim skirt.
By the he ended the set with Tea Incident, I was all smiles. I haven’t visited the Crazy Elephant in years, but I’m glad I did on Saturday. And really, with good music and a nice beer, there’s nothing much else you really need, is there?