Live Review: Chris Wong at Paper Dress Vintage, Hackney

Photo Credit: Luke McCormack

Last Thursday, London was blessed with a visit from Dublin up-and-comer Chris Wong, for a gig at the Paper Dress Vintage Venue, in Hackney. If you haven’t been, it’s a clothes shop with a large upstairs gig space, two bars, and a great smoking area. It’s a good shop and a better venue. Just opposite Hackney Central overground. 

Wong is a Dublin/Hong Kongese singer/songwriter who has been generating smoke in Ireland over the past few years. Usually within the group Papa Romeo, this was his debut headlining gig outside of Ireland. His relaxing tracks are a synthesis of easy listening beats and personal lyrics about Dublin and being a young, mixed raced, creative person in 2023, with all the ups and downs that accompany that. 

Wong has played at Other Voices, Forbidden Fruit, and a myriad of other festivals and venues across Ireland, sharing the stage with the likes of Olivia Dean and Rachel Chinouriri. He is as yet unsigned, but is releasing an unnamed EP sometime in the coming months. Watch this space. 

Rob de Boer, another member of Papa Romeo, opened the show, with keyboardist Peter Brien, and accompanying backup singer Ashling Buggle. The three have a great cadence together, and it was a nice, melodic opening for the gig. Think somewhere between Ed Sheeran, Anthony Kiedis and Tom Nisch. Chris Wong then came out for Autumn Haze, a duet with de Boer, which was fantastic. 

Wong has a similar style to de Boer, but more upbeat, more energy. Whereas de Boer’s songs could be listened to in the bath or on a night time car ride (no bad thing), with Wong it felt like you were at a concert. Still holding onto the remnants of Ed Sheeran and Tom Nisch, Chris has some of Hozier’s better stuff in his style. Maybe some of the Maccabees’ Given To The Wild album. My biggest compliment to Wong is that he is starting to sound like no one but Chris Wong. 

As the set continued, mostly originals but a few covers peppered into the meal, Wong played his more famous tracks, Talents and Been Here for Days, in a set that lasted around an hour. The excellent Louis Younge of Brick Nasty played bass, and Dan Coyne took the sax and keys. Has there ever been an instrument as effortlessly cool as the sax? 

Rob de Boer moved out of the spotlight and donned his Ringo cap, accompanying Wong on the drums. If his singer/songwriter career never reaches the heights of stardom, de Boer is safe in the knowledge that he is a phenomenal drummer. 

The gig has gotten a solid ⅘ stars. I have had the pleasure of seeing Chris Wong several times over the years, either with Papa Romeo or solo, and the gigs have been exponentially better as time goes by; already a name in Ireland, it will be no great surprise if he conquers the rest of the world in the coming years.