Japanese Beatles in Hong Kong – Mr. Moonlight is the new Abbey Road?

Mr. Moonlight's signature drum at Hong Kong's premier Beatles BarHad enough of the Tokyo heat? What better way to spend a quiet stippy weekend than hit the streets of Hong Kong for a bite of 飲茶 (Yum Cha / Dim Sum) and a couple of rounds of 麻雀 (Mahjongg) with the locals in Kowloon Park? If you catch JAL, you can even convince yourself that you’re doing something to help the Mother Country. But JAL isn’t the only connection that Hong Kong has with Japan (and whatever else it is that we at Stippy.com claim we are writing about). We are always keen for a challenge and love it when our readers drop a hint to us in the comments section of our articles. A few months ago, Shiona left us a comment that we couldn’t ignore on Bone’s article about Tokyo’s two most famous Beatles Bars.

Shiona: The Broadwoods — who perform at Mr Moonlight in Hong Kong — is another Japanese Beatles tribute band worth a listen.

Oh my Buddha! Why is there a Beatles Bar in Hong Kong? What is an all Japanese Beatles tribute band doing in Hong Kong? Who on earth listens to them? Is there any other culture in the world that takes their hobbies (and dreams this) seriously? Last month, I set off on a Magical Mystery Tour and took up the gauntlet!

Despite having quite a reputation for themselves, it took me quite a while to track down the Broadwoods. Amazingly, nearly every friend of mine that had lived in Hong Kong during the last 10 years had heard of them but very few had actually gone to see them. A quick Google search came up with some Beatles Bars in Tsingtao and Shanghai but nothing in Hong Kong. After a few more phone calls and a little help from your friends, I managed to track the Broadwoods down to a building in Causeway Bay. For those of you who have never visited Hong Kong, Causeway Bay (銅鑼湾) may as well be the Shibuya of Hong Kong. It’s where all of the fashionable shops are and also where the local youth choose to go out for a night on the town. Better yet, it is also the cultural centre when it comes to Japanese food, drink and Karaoke. Mr. Moonlight was in the same building as Sushi Hiro (すし廣 +852-2882-8752), my friend told me. With the help of the yellow pages (the Hong Kong equivalent of mapion) I managed to stumble across the building pretty fast and low and behold, here was the bar that I was looking for: Mr. Moonlight is here, there and everywhere on the 12th floor of Henry House.

It was my wife’s birthday that weekend and I wanted the Broadwoods performance to be a surprise for her (after all, who would expect a Japanese Beatles tribute band in the middle of Hong Kong??). I had tracked down the owner of Mr. Moonlight in advance to make sure that we got the best seats in the house but couldn’t help myself asking him a little about the story of the show. It turns out that the man I was speaking to was none other than George himself. Yanagida George that is, the “master” of the bar and one of the founding members who started the Broadwoods back when Hong Kong was still a part of England. I hope that one day I will have the motivation and perseverance to turn one of my hobbies into a success like Mr. Moonlight has become. Not only was George a great host, he was also my favourite amongst the members, playing a mean weeping guitar.

Although the original John and Paul have moved on since the Broadwoods formed in the mid 90s, it is pretty impressive that the original Ono Ringo is still drumming with him in the band today. Both he and George have day jobs (apparel and interior design respectively) but have managed to put together a repertoire of over 80 songs on their long and winding road between performances. I was hoping that I’d get to hear how Ringo was behind the mike but to no avail. Perhaps next time I’ll have to request Yellow Submarine! in order to complete the review?

George and Ringo were joined by Yoshimoto John and Shimizu Paul. All in all we were pretty impressed with the Broadwoods. For a bunch of guys who get together once a month to put on a performance, the quality is consistent, the atmosphere is great and at least half of their jokes (in Japanese, of course) were laughable! I personally would have liked it if they had put in a bit more effort to look like the fabulous four but what they lacked in presentation, they made up for in mental effort. It took me a while to realise but Paul played his guitar left-handed for the entire evening. Here is a quick video of their performance:

http://www.stippy.com/wp/wp-content/zuploads/z_movs/200710_beatles-in-hk.flv

Although the show doesn’t start until 9PM, the bar is open from 8PM. You won’t have trouble getting a seat if you get there early (most of the crowd arrives a few minutes before 9PM) and given that it is a nomihodai (飲み放題, all you can drink) there is at least one more good reason to arrive early. It cost me HKD$300 for the pleasure (about 4,500 yen) but felt pretty generous when I realised that the nomihodai continued until 2AM! Oh, and just in case you didn’t already think you were back in Japan, women get a discount of HKD$100. There isn’t any substantial food on the menu so make sure you eat first.

On normal days with no live performance there is a cover charge of HKD$200 so make sure you check the calendar before you go. Unlike the Parrots at Abbey Road or the Silver Beats at the Cavern Club, the Broadwoods are an amateur band and so only perform about once a month. While Mr. Moonlight generally stages two live performances each month, they aren’t always the Broadwoods and the days aren’t fixed so it pays to check “George’s” homepage (see link at the bottom) in advance. When the Broadwoods are not performing, the regulars at Mr. Moonlight include Elvis Ishikawa (I think you can guess who he impersonates) and a great local (Japanese) Mowtown band called Hinabeya. When I visited, Hinabeya played for us after two stages of the Broadwoods. While the Broadwoods were the highlight of the night, both my wife and I had a great time rocking along with Hinabeya, too.

If you get the chance to go to Mr. Moonlight, make sure you also visit their toilets. (Just in case there was any doubt after a 6 hour nomihodai). While I can’t vouch for the female toilet, the male toilet has some great Japanese Beatles posters from the ’60s. One of them shows all of the singles that the Beatles ever released, complete with their Japanese titles. I hadn’t realised that a bunch of the titles had been translated into Japanese for release although I have no idea how they chose which ones to translate. After why would you call a song koitsui? I’m serious! You can’t pick the song? Try “This boy”. On the flip side, surely 俺はセイウチだ would have been much less of a mouthful than アイ・アム・ザ・ウォルラス (“I am the walrus”).

Live House “Mr. Moonlight
Phone: 2881-0199
Address: 12/F, Henry House, 40-42 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, HK
(香港銅鑼湾恩平道40-42号亨利中心12楼)
Open: Mon-Sat from 8PM (until 2AM)
Homepage: http://mrmlhk.exblog.jp

8 thoughts on “Japanese Beatles in Hong Kong – Mr. Moonlight is the new Abbey Road?”

  1. Speaking of Hong Kong – who’s the biggest singer over there? I know that a lot of Japanese artists go to China and Korea for concerts – do any from Hong Kong / China come over to Japan?

  2. I think it’s really cool that someone is willing to go so far to pursue their dreams. It really is a great example of otakuism in the best of ways. I hope that one day I can take my dream to the same level as these guys.

  3. Well! I’m the Shiona who left the comment you followed up on to discover Mr Moonlight in HK for yourself… I’m thrilled you enjoyed The Broadwoods. I am in Canada now, but next time I visit HK, I’ll have at least one nomihodai there in Causeway Bay. And of course, next time I get back to Tokyo, Abbey Road and The Cavern Club in Roppongi will be on my “must go again” list. I guess they already know this, but “There are places I’ll remember, all my life…”

  4. Sorry to have to tell you that Mr Moonlight closed down a couple of years ago due to soaring rents in Causeway Bay. Don’t think any of the regular bands have a home now. Sad; we had some great nights there.

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