Venues: Sunset Stage/Village Stage/The Padang, Singapore
Date: 17th September 2017
Promoter: Singapore GP Pte Ltd
Review by: Maisha G.
Special Thanks: The Singapore GP Pte Ltd Team
Photos by Alvin Ho: Duran Duran | SGP 2017 Album
In just a glimpse, it has been 10 years since the Grand Prix made Singapore one of their race circuits and the specialty that Singapore has to offer is that we are known to be the only country that hosts the night race, especially for this well celebrated occasion that happens annually in the heart of the city. People from all around the world gather in our little red dot to witness the magical event over the course of three days.
Personally, the lineup for the music festival year after year that compliments the night race, catches my eye and my fullest attention. And this year especially, I thought that it would be tough for them to top last year’s lineup with Queen being in the bill but I was wrong. Instead I was surprised with Duran Duran and Seal being in the lineup for the music festival and not to forget, the old teenage favourite – OneRepublic.
The weather was promising up till about 4pm when the tumultuous clouds started streaming in and it can only mean one thing, an impending heavy downpour. And true enough, it started pouring and I didn’t have any poncho with me, let alone an umbrella but I was determined to go through with the night and to enjoy the music that I’ve been waiting and looking forward to all week.
I braved the rain and entered the vicinity and found myself to be positioned a little too close to the stage. It was surprising because no one was hogging the barricades like every other year that I’ve been to and this is a first that the crowd wasn’t as massive. Probably because it was not at the main stage. But my sole purpose coming early was to get a great spot and I wasn’t disappointed at all. This particular performer, I only have had the chance to watch him on YouTube videos and remembering the song that was in the ‘Batman Forever’ official soundtrack. It didn’t cross my mind that I’d be able to watch him, let alone be right in front.
The song “Kiss From A Rose” was an iconic number that garnered a lot of fans all over the world and the man behind the beautiful song is none other than Seal. A name that isn’t well heard of in the music industry today but upon the mention of his popular number, his image materialises in our heads and his unique facial features edge at the back of our heads.
He graced the stage with what I reckoned he would be wearing; dressed from all black from top to toe, with his iconic blazer. I was a tad bit concerned about him sweating through his outfit because despite the rain, the weather was still humid. His band, made up of only two other members of whom the guitarist caught my eye, reminded me of a young Nuno Bettencourt.
“Killer”, a song off his self-titled record released in 1991, started the night as the crowd started streaming in. It was a different rendition of what I remembered listening over the radio, it was complimented with an edgier and electronic sounding. Something that could easily attract the younger crowd who are not familiar with his work and possibly only have heard of him because of the relation he had with Heidi Klum.
The song “Do You Ever”, as soon as it started, reminded me of some similar tunes that I have come across before on random. It’s a track off his recently released album titled 7, and I wish I have had more time to discover his new music and pay more attention to it much as I would love to. His stage presence was beyond commendable. His aura on stage was alluring and it felt omniscient. I felt closer to him despite the growing crowd.
Stage banters are always interesting especially not being used to listening to Seal speak, I heard his perfect English accent which was music to my ears as he beckoned the crowd, asking them who’d win the race that night and the resounding cheer in a familiar tune came out as the crowd cheered ‘H A M I L T O N’ followed by a resounding laughter from the background.
Of course, the set wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t grace the crowd with his iconic song that is still liked by many of my age and older till this very day. I remember only being about five years old when I hear that song being played over and over again on the radio and it went on to my father playing the song almost every single day that I have the lyrics etched in my head, word for word and to listen to it live, it was something different. It holds a special place in my heart as I reminisce about the good old days as he belt out his notes. He sounded exactly like how he sounds on recording and it was beyond amazing. “Kiss From A Rose” made my evening memorable but I knew it was just the start.
As soon as Seal’s set ended, I let out countless “excuse me” as I squeezed my way to the crowd to catch the last 15 minutes of a performance. A friend of my introduced me to this particular artiste and it only took a song for me to get hooked onto her material. Born is a multi-racial background, Alysha Brilla has clinched many prestigious awards while playing local gigs in her hometown of Ontario, Canada and gaining recognition in their jazz scene, she now runs her own record label named Sunny Jam Records where she self-produced her materials. Being very involved in her Tanzanian culture, her materials speak volumes through her songs and her videos and the way she dresses up as well. A sweet, quirky lady with the voice comparable to that of a protege of Amy Winehouse but with her own unique specialities that gives her her own identity.
I made it just in time to catch her perform the song that got me wooed into her music and the song that I was hoping to catch before her set ends. The track “Jenna” gives a very uplifting jive to it at the same time holding so much gravitas in the lyrics, holds a deep set meaning to love. Quirky yet full of spunk, a love like none other. I was pretty much in awe of her stage presence and I could see people around me dancing, immersing themselves with her music. It was happy music for happy people and I was a happy person that evening.
I was bummed out that her set wasn’t longer but it gave me ample time to walk to the Padang Stage for the main event of the night. I can’t say that I am a fan of electronic dance music (EDM) but I have some songs that caught my attention and I can’t just get enough. I don’t actively find for EDM music on Spotify or YouTube but on the rare occasions when I decide to tune into the radio, that’s when I learned about these songs, out of my comfort genre but I still get to enjoy them. One of the popular names that were being thrown around in this day and age, especially when the topic of popular EDM songs, the artiste that appears at the tip of the tongue of many is Calvin Harris. Lucky for many of us, he was the closing act for the music festival for the night, and what’s more amazing when he does a celebratory performance for the winner. For all we know, the winner himself is a massive fan of Calvin Harris.
I was not keen to be standing right in front where I was last year for Queen because I was afraid that I might not be able to leave in time to catch the last train so I found a fairly comfortable spot where my vision of the stage was not compromised and yet I have some space to ease out and move around. The night started with the arrangement of the lights demonstration, it was highly eclectic as the music chimed in. I couldn’t figure out the songs that he was playing but I was vibing to it all in all and it went on from one to another. The next thing I knew, I was lost in the music.
A familiar tune came on and I finally could be able to mouth the very few lyrics that I know of the song titled “This Is What You Came For” as it features Rihanna. So naturally this was the song that I kept listening to, as it was being repeated on the radio. It felt much more surreal to listen to it on a surrounded sound system and it was controlled well, as the music gels well with the lights. It was spectacular. I wish I had more in me to enjoy such a genre but I see people around me having so much fun and I couldn’t help but to join them in the exhilaration. I grew to like the music more as I got a grasp of a song that easily became a new favourite of mine. The song titled “My Way” with amazing lyrics got me hooked like a magnet. Calvin Harris was not only a name sought after by many but he presented his music so well that it was worth spending my Sunday evening, jiving to, despite the late hour.
I enjoyed myself through and through and here’s wishing that next year’s night race lineup would be as amazing as it was the previous years. Thank you Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix for the amazing musical journey throughout the weekend.