User login

The Q-ba Rocks (and Rolls)!

By: Aaron Leverton Posted: January-01-2006 in
Aaron Leverton

"It's all about soul" Billy Joel sang on his 1993 album River of Dreams. Billy Joel may not be coming to Phnom Penh any time soon, but another Billy has brought soul to the Kingdom.

Billy Haynes is a big man with a big voice and since his arrival in Phnom Penh has given couple of sneak previews (one of them via satellite to the whole nation) of what it is he does and what he does is sing. Oh, and play the bass. Last night was his opening night at the Cambodiana Hotel's Q-ba and Billy doesn't just sing. He rocks.

Before Billy took to the stage the Q-ba's other resident singer gave us a taste of Cardiff via Kuala Lumpur. Mark Sylvester's Tom Jones act is a blast. Whether there's a full house or only two in the audience, Asia's Tom Jones gives it his all and is obviously having a great time doing so.

If you've logged on in the last week, you'll know that Billy Haynes has played, learned guitar from his stepfather and played Rhythm and Blues in the Middle East.

In the Q-ba we saw (and heard!) why. Playing the bass in front of a band including drums, keyboard and guitar and with two backing singers, Billy filled the Q-ba with sound, not noise, but sweet, sweet soul, rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

While Billy has a voice to match his frame, I couldn't help but wonder where his backing singers got theirs from. Next to most people they would be "petite", next to Billy, who dominates the stage, they are tiny. But on Chain of Fools, Billy gave them the spotlight and they showed why.

Billy then stole it back with the very next song, proving that white men have no soul by showing why even John Lennon shouldn't have covered Ben E King's classic Stand By Me. Or maybe white men can have soul, because the next track Billy sang was Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl and I don't think anybody dispute's Van the Man's soul credentials.

One reviewer once wrote that Buddy Guy (Eric Clapton's choice for greatest electric blues guitarist) shouldn't have covered Mustang Sally because it was "a song for kids and horns" and that topping The Commitments' version would be nigh on impossible. Billy doesn't have a horn section on stage with him, but I guess you could call the girls "kids" and they certainly have the voices to do Sally justice.

Billy went into his own history and gave the spotlight away with the next song. Proud Mary may have been written by a white man from California who played Louisiana swamp rock, but when Billy played it for his keep it was sung by one of the most iconic female voices in rock. Billy doesn't have any Ikettes dancing with him on stage, but he let his backing singers have full rein as they covered their boss' old boss' cover of the Credence classic. Billy says Tina is the singer he admires most and he made sure his band did her proud.

Make no mistake, Billy Haynes is the real deal. If you've been dying for live music, get up to the Hotel Cambodiana and get your fix.


Whats on! See our help pages - add your own events

This location does not have any events. Why not add one here!