Venue: The Padang & Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, Singapore
Date: 21st – 23rd September 2012
Promoter: Singapore GP Pte. Ltd
Review by: Ee Liza
Special Thanks: The Singapore GP Pte. Ltd team
Photos by Alvin H.
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS
The fanzone at the Padang was eerily quiet about two hours before the five red lights went off on raceday. There was not much fanfare for the build up to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds entrance to the stage. Right at the stipulated time (a rare occurrence in this time and age), one half of the famed Gallagher brother took to the stage along with his High Flying Birds to kick things off with the aptly titled Oasis cover (It’s Good) To Be Free. You cannot help but feel secretly chuffed to be standing in the presence of the very man that has turned down an invitation to perform for the Olympics’ closing ceremony.
This is not your casual relaxed gig. There is a sense of necessary tension that allows for Noel to capture the attention of the audience. I may be in the minority here, but when the organisers opened the barricade separating the Fanzone and the rest of the crowd, to allow new stream of fans to enter the Fanzone, I beamed happily at the faces of grateful fans who clearly deserved the opportunity to get closer to the stage. My hats off to the organizers for their quick on-site decision and organization.
Noel has never been particularly chatty, although when he does say a few words, it proved to be catty banter. After taking direct jabs at Manchester United supporters (“Don’t know what you’re going at, Manchester City are the champions”) as well as at a man who was wearing a hat (“This is nowhere near cold enough to wear a hat”) even the glorious sounds that an F1 car churns out were not spared. Despite the odd occasional boos that could be heard, the interesting bit about Noel is that he does not care what you think and allows for no nonsense during his gig.
The crowd however, gladly lapped it up. There were a healthy number of Oasis “covers” that night. It was evident songs from Oasis’ 1995 album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? received the loudest cheers. The moment Noel began to strum the enchanting chords to Wonderwall, everyone held their breaths in unison as a bout of nostalgia took over.
While I sadly could not justify just how Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds closed the show, I strongly believe that the loud euphoric cheer that I heard as I sauntered over to the Esplanade Theatre to catch the end bit of The Proclaimers’ gig, was evident enough that Don’t Look Back in Anger closed the show in true 90s British Rock anthem fashion. For some reason though, the name “Liam” and the words “if only” probably could not escape the lips or thoughts of the many that was present that day.
With a heavy heart, I had to promptly leave towards the end of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds set to be able to catch the last bits of The Proclaimers’ happy-go-lucky gig at the Esplanade Bay Theater. It did however end up as the best decision I made over that weekend. As I sprinted across the venue to arrive at the Esplanade, the Formula One cars have started their reconnaisance lap (the almost-lap where they head out from the pits to position the cars on the grid as per qualifying position). The sounds of these cars as a background to The Proclaimers singing was such a defining moment.
The change of atmosphere between the Padang to the Bay Theater was phenomenal as the Proclaimers played to a jam-packed venue (granted, the standing area was significantly less). The crowd cheered, clapped, danced and plenty of Scottish flags were waved about that would clearly make even an unhappy David Coulthard break into a proud smile. As I chanced upon an empty space a few steps below me and settled myself between a lady and her two kids, I asked the mother, “Have they played 500 Miles yet?” A wide grin plastered her face, she said no, then addressed the fact that everyone stood at the edges of their feet in anticipation of that song.
Exactly why is it so important to walk 500 Miles? Well, when The Proclaimers got involved with the cast and crew of Doctor Who, I could not quite disregard it any longer. I find that the less you question and fret over 500 Miles, the faster you get to embrace the spirit behind this highly contagious song. Your misery tends to dissipate with every mile that you walk (or sing).
The pair of brothers that hail from Scotland, twins Charlie & Craig Reid certainly built up the momentum to the final song of the night, all at the peak of Scottish Pride morale. I did a double take when I saw men in kilts actually pranced about right at the front of the stage. The Esplanade Bay Theatre felt like the happiest place to be in Singapore right at that very moment.
I appreciated every mile in the 500 miles (and 500 more) that The Proclaimers travelled just for Singapore to be enamoured by their presence. The “80’s Revival” theme that has graced almost every Singtel Formula One Singapore Grand Prix since only goes to show that we can eagerly look forward to even more of an extravagant array of bands that has already reached the pinnacle of their band-life to perform in the next chapter of street racing. Well, we did hear that The Rolling Stones are back on tour again…
Before I begin the review of Maroon 5, please forgive me for objectifying Adam Levine in the following paragraphs. The way I see it, it truly seemed more like The Adam Levine Show and his Band (yes I know how tiring that must be to read in every Maroon 5 review). The crowd was clearly enamoured with his presence, although ironically he does not quite reek charismatic charm. He seemed like the alluring bad boy with a skateboard that mothers would seem to warn their daughters about. The moment Adam sang the acoustic version of She Will Be Loved accompanied by James Valentine, my knees – along with plenty other hearts in the Padang that night – went weak.
Teasing the crowd with dial tones and small change clanking down a payphone coin slot, Maroon 5 made a climax-building entrance which easily lead to a massive singalong. Adam wore his polo tee for one reason only, and that is to teasingly strip it off in front of thousands, revealing his very adeptly toned arms. One song in particular stood out for me, and that would be the third song of the set. Not sure if it was the genuity of the band playing Lucky Strike (with perfectly timed lighting to boot), or the effect of the temperature that raised a few notches as a result of Adam’s newly revealed skin.
There was no denying that Maroon 5 knew how to rattle the crowd’s energy up despite spending a long day at the track (when the final note of the gig was played, it clocked way past 12 midnight). They cleverly peppered bits of notable cover songs as an intro/outro to their songs. The bit with Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites incorporated into Harder To Breathe in particular turned the whole venue into a jovial arena. It is inevitable to dance like a loon when Adam is on stage working various easy-on-the-eyes acrobatic moves along the extended platform.
There is still a sense of puzzlement and awe that Maroon 5 were more than capable to command the attention of tens of thousands of racing fans that night, because if you ask me frankly, I felt as though their performance was not completely honest. A huge chunk of This Love was left for the audience to sing and despite the rest of the band being in tune with each other most of the night, it felt a little awkward to watch them stop for Adam Levine’s guitar solos. Of course, anyone would be able to learn from Concerts for Dummies that if you throw in snippets of famous songs, you would get the crowd riled up. They did this well with Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back as well as a tease of the highest worldwide ranking YouTube song of the year, Gangnam Style.
To summarise, although it could well be just another stop on the tour for Maroon 5, the energy from the fans that night felt like it could be more than enough to fuel high-tech Formula One cars. It was a great excuse for dancing on a Saturday night and a perfect teasing appetizer for the next day’s long string of entertainment.
A familiar bassline plays through the speakers. For a Formula One fan, this is not just any bassline. This is the bassline of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, a song that has been the intro to BBC F1’s coverage for decades. I felt my heartbeat pulsing, ready as ever for another round of Grand Prix (despite witnessing one just end with Sebastian Vettel claiming victory mere minutes before). As eight different back up dancers parade through the extended stage with motor racing-themed flags and race overalls, Katy Perry (helmet included) emerges in a miniature car before belting out chart topper Hot N Cold. I don’t suppose I have seen an entrance with this much effort put in. My hats are definitely off to the choreographer as well as the props team.
As I sit here to type this review, I realise that there are only compliments for the Katy Perry show and nothing remotely negative. The entire hour that Katy Perry performed on stage was over the top, a little silly but most of all, it was fun. From the bizarre Peacock uh, tail (she should have a word with Sufjan Stevens, Swan King) to calling for a random guy from the crowd to “toy” with (their on stage chemistry was pretty sizzling I have to say!) to taking a subtle jab at ex-husband Russell Brand (“It’s rude not to say I love you back” but I could be reading way too much into it) right before the acoustic version of The One That Got Away. One cannot but help to be entirely entranced by her sultry moves and strong vocals that reverberate through the circuit.
With nine number one singles to date it’s hard for anyone in the crowd not to be familiar with Katy Perry’s songs. As the long (and loud) weekend comes to an end, one would expect to wind down with something rather mellow but Katy armed with pyrotechnics, proved otherwise. The sound system after Part of Me may have been tempered due to the brief “fire show”, but it surely lead up nicely for the monstrosity that was the Fireworks show. I have tried, and failed miserably to sing Fireworks at karaoke bars in tune. For Katy to dance and hit all the right notes in the song rather effortlessly, that’s enough to make your jaws drop in awe, seemingly as it did when your jaws dropped in wonder when Russell Brand came into Katy Perry’s life a few years ago.
Very much impressed with the scale of her concert including the fascinating dance choreograph, specifically during Last Friday Night when chairs were involved somehow. It was the right choice for the management to wrap up the spectacular Formula One weekend in Singapore with Katy Perry. She brought along confidence on stage that didn’t come off too strong that was great to observe, as did the confidence of the FIA to announce that there will be another five glorious years of Formula One in Singapore. Motor racing and concert fans alike around the region rejoice at the idea of five additional years’ worth of more acts that would be invited to play in Singapore.
One simply cannot wait for what’s in store for the 2013 season!