By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
The Olarn Project – the very first band to bring real heavy metal music to the local scene with their 1987 debut “Kumpapan 2528” (“February 1985”) – were back in action last Saturday night, rocking BG Hall with their reunion concert “X-Fire” as if they’d never been away.
Pong Pathompong stirs up the audience.
The stunningly successful concert brought together the original members – leader and guitarist Olarn “Oe” Promjai, singer Pathompong “Pong” Sombatpiboon, bassist Pitak Srisang, keyboardist and vocalist Chatpong “Tangmo” Niyomthai, and drummer Chanin “Gungging” Saengkamchoo who flew in from Sweden for the show. Also joining the event were some of the musicians who lent their talents to the band’s albums and gigs over the years.
“This concert made me feel the same way as I did when I saw phi Oe perform at Rock Pub when I was studying at high school,” said singer and performance artist Wachirapilan “Rik” Chokcharoenrat.
“I am proud to sing this song again after gigging with The Olarn Project at Rock Pub for many years,” said Sornthachon “Bob” Khampakdee, former vocalist of rock band Lava who sang “Tamnan” (“Legend”) on The Olarn Project’s “Trilogy” album.
“Phi Oe was very happy though exhausted. The concert was an emotional mix of concert and pub gig and definitely the best rock concert I’ve seen for a long while. And seeing so many rockheads at this concert makes me feel there’s hope for the circle of Thai rock music,” added Ekachai “Ae Wizard” Kraiarnon, another Rock Pub stalwart.
Bob Lava put his powerful vocals to good use on "Tamnan."
“I saw Olarn Project playing as the opening act for Deep Purple long before I was making music with my band. At that time, I got goosebumps from the vibes of the Thai rock band’s powerful songs. The Olarn Project’s album ‘Kumphapan 2528’ opened my eyes to rock music. This concert was the reunion of all pioneering members. It was so great,” said Maytee Noichinda, a member of ModernDog.
“I have known this man for 30 years since the days when I recorded my first album. These four hours of the concert have been truly beautiful,” said American singer, songwriter and musician Todd Lavelle.
Saxophonist Thewan showed off his rock chops
BG Hall isn’t a venue known to concertgoers – it’s actually home to Bangkok Glass Volleyball Club in Rangsit Klong 3. Little wonder then that despite a good sound system, the music had an echoing quality with the sound literally bouncing of the walls. All things considered, though, it wasn’t bad.
On the plus side, the concert management was good. Both sides of the pathway leading to the hall were lined with trucks offering food, snacks and beverages. And just in front of the entrance, there was a photo exhibition of the band where fans could stop and take selfies.
Kor Nopanan rocked the crowd with international covers.
Overdose and Yamin served as the opening acts and did a fine job.
The Olarn Project came out on stage at 8 with the founding members tearing into a first set that included “Khon” from their second album, 1989’s “Hoo Lek” and “Hon Thang Khong Khun” from the debut.
During the brief pause, Olarn greeted his fans, saying, “I still play music. It’s my life and my breath,” before powering into “Pleng Nee Puea Khun”, “Duay Tua Rao Aeng” and “Chan Yak Ja Tai Proh Ther (Wa).”
I got goose bumps just listening to the audience singing along happily with the band.
The Olarn Project and original singers posed for a picture with fans.
As the band prepared to perform “Khor Phom Sak Khuen”, Pong commented that the song had a double meaning with definite sexual overtones and the audience obliged by shouting out “khor phom sak khuen”.
The band performed “Mitraphap Chua Niran”, which was used as a soundtrack of the Japanese movie “Battle Royale” then Olarn swung into the guitar lead for “Ya Yud Yang”, a favourite with the crowd. Veteran saxophonist Tewan “Tong” Sapsanyakorn jammed on the intro as well as on “Sanook Kan Thuan Na” while Manote Puttan guested on guitar in an instrumental.
Pong returned to the stage with “Bot Pleng Khon Noom Sao” and “Palang Lae Khwam Tangjai” before Chatchai “Rang Rockestra” Sukkawadi was introduced and added his vocals on “Aeb Keb Rak” before showing off his high pitch on his own ballad, “Khid Thueng.”
All the Thai heavy metal band’s members were inspired by international songs at the beginning of their careers and paid tribute to those days with covers of “Going Home”, The Shadows’ “Wonderful Land” and “Theme for Young Lovers”, and The Carpenters’ “Top of the World.”
An exhibition at the front of the venue showcases the band's photos.
They then played vintage track “Tamnan” with Bob Lava on vocals before going back to international music again with Journey’s “Open Arms” and Queen’s “Love of My Life” sung by Nopanan “Kor” Prayoonsuk, the latest singer of The Olarn Project.
The last set was heavy on the rock with “Wela Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Hoo Lek” and “Fai Prathana” and finishing with the softer “Taen Khwam Huangyai” performed by original singer Tangmo.
The Olarn Project closed out the concert with an encore of “Rao Song Khon” and a reprise of “Ya Yud Yang”.