Venues: Esplanade Park Stage & The Padang, Singapore
Date: 21st September 2013
Promoter: Singapore GP Pte Ltd
Review by: Fadhil R.
Special Thanks: The Singapore GP Pte. Ltd team
Photos by Alvin Ho: Weish | SGP 2013 Album
It was hot as the day is long in Singapore. Glorious sunshine. Ice cold beverages. There is nothing about Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix that doesn’t rule, and as this inspired event embarks on its annual jaunt around Marina Bay, it would take a few well-known celebrities coming together or a worldwide superstar to remove the frowns from the faces of thousands. It’s the second day and somehow the numbers have risen to whom have attended F1 on day one. Thanks to the fact that The Killers are in town. Oh dear.
First and foremost, you can say what you like about homegrown bands and local soloists here in Singapore. It’s fine. They’re almost having more fun than you of course. Luckily, I managed to catch one of them that go by the name of Weish, performing at the Esplanade Park Stage in the late evening and no doubt she’s the perfect ukulele/looper artisan Singapore is able to offer. Infectious energy from her, she knows how to plug the entire set into her own world with her sumptuous originals. And yes, songs like “Rushing On By”, “Juvenile” and “In My Sleep” may sound like cheesy lullabies, but so what? It was insanely entertaining and she’s already a huge hit. Weish may not have the sing along factor but at a different point of her songs, her raspy unique vocals makes the crowd so hard to resist her naïve character. Well, she was the opening act for Tegan and Sara when they came to our shores, so whatever your argument is, it’s invalid.
One thing that is hard to ignore on this event is that there are a vast amount of Americans on board. As a result, it comes as no surprise that The Killers are welcomed like conquering heroes. Four years waiting finally paid off as I devoted myself to be readily entertained to the fullest. Right after the qualifying rounds of F1 SGP coming to a close, it’s time to get the collective blood pumping.
Never a man to hold back from injecting some theatrical flair into The Killers’ performances, Brandon Flowers was in his element during F1 SGP, arriving onstage adorned with a smart pleasant-looking outfit. The Killers chose not to have any gigs on their Southeast Asia tour professionally filmed, but despite that unfortunate oversight it’s safe to say that anyone who saw the band at that time will have the image of Brandon Flowers’ first appearance on the big stage at The Padang in Singapore permanently etched onto our memory. There’s a reason why their kind of music remains perhaps the purest possible expression of rock a decade on ever since their ‘Hot Fuss’ album was released. They are absolute masters of the art for sure.
The band ripped our faces off with their opening song “Mr. Brightside” and the crowd is as furious as ever. Jumping up and down like there’s no tomorrow, the crowd attempted to convey their message of satisfaction and impatience at the same time. “We waited too long,” as it ranged across The Padang. Thank god for no rain as the audience would much rather get their bodies drenched in sweat instead. The whole situation was getting ridiculous as songs like “Spaceman” and “The Way It Was” are the hissing antithesis of cheery, happy-go-lucky vibes, but that just makes the set all the more exhilarating. Someone had to say it. One of these days, The Killers will be idolized with a homemade statue and take us all with it into the heavens. Happy times.
Even though rock always goes down well after two to three songs, “Smile Like You Mean It” erupted to huge cheers nevertheless. Maybe it’s the fault of the wind that howls around the crowd, making everything not so humid at all. Thankfully it didn’t blow away the oomph of The Killers, but the bassist seems to be unmovable. Perhaps the presence of Mark Stoermer was more suited at that point of time, as he himself couldn’t make it for the concert due to a breather he needed.
The event gives fans the chance to see many of their favourite musicians right up close with three huge TV screens being planted at the sides and at the back of the stage. As Brandon Flowers suddenly was seen seated behind a keyboard, with that “Human” intro rhythm taking place, the rest of the band join forces on an ‘impromptu’ setlist. In a turn of events, Dave Keuning on his lead guitar ripped the Padang with ‘Bling’ instead as they grin their way though and the idea that the band softened up with a cover of Joy Divison’s “Shadowplay” now seems more ridiculous than it did upon the release of that song in 1979. Regardless, the band provides a jaunty but a smoothing wake-up call as the light strobes blazed down synchronizing with the drumbeats of Ronnie Vannucci. Their songs still tend to fly by as we all nearly forgotten about the closure of “Human”. Brandon Flowers possess the authority and musicianship to land a devastating blow after blow with that song. “Are we human, or are we dancer?” Well everyone’s still looking for that answer. A thrillingly precise performance so far by them!
One thing’s abundantly clear: everyone loves The Killers. 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the Hot Fuss album, and yet the undisputed musicians never stray away from their rock roots. Everything from their classic gems like “Somebody Told Me” and “For Reasons Unknown” to their new brand new anthem “From Here On Out”. They all surprisingly sound fresh and vital live, and it does seem about time that the band’s vast contribution to rock’s legacy is properly experimented. The deafening response the band gets on that night is a good start. Brandon Flowers sounds great as usual, and he proudly did his best to rally his troops for a roll call. While each of the band members threw in a few beats and riffs according to their own set of skills, Brandon Flowers thanked the crowd for being patient with the band for four years or less. I have to say the lighting show that The Killers are receiving was electrifying.
Even though their recent material is short on dynamic surprises, it was overlooked by “Dustland Fairytale” from their album Day & Age, with Brandon Flowers losing none of his incensed swagger over the period of the concert, and no self-respecting fan would dare to argue with that particular song. As night descends further, the Padang is awash with drunkards, flailing fists and a heart-warming sense that rock is still the best thing ever.
“Pop styles of British and the fuzz of modern indie rock.” These are the words of a reviewer from their first ever live show in Vegas. Brandon Flowers and his loyal comrades deserve an ecstatic reception from the crowd for their struggle from labels turning them down to meaningful killer songs that’s been in everyone’s heads till now. That’s why “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Read My Mind” had the band’s work cut out to get the crowd back on adrenaline. They do it with ease of course because they are simply one of the most outrageously uplifting live bands on the planet. Everything about them sends the crowd into a fist pumping frenzy. Brilliant? Yes. Epic? Yes, yes, yes! It takes a note-perfect version of Tommy Hames & The Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” before this to momentarily dispel the notion that too much classic rock is very plainly a good thing. “Runaways” sounded probably like one of the best 80’s song in 2013. Guess what? It’s way better being played live with Brandon walking out and about on the runway as he stunned the crowd with acts of technical wizardry. Wow. For those who have survived into the final moments of their set, “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” provided the perfect soundtrack to one last stumble by the drunkards mumbling to the song. Brandon Flowers being Brandon Flowers, he managed to hurl in Singapore or Singapura into its lyrics from one song to another.
With his retro outfit still being attached on him, he asked the crowd, “Is there one more song we haven’t played yet?” Well to them, they wish the band would play more songs than one, that’s for sure. Everyone goes mental. “When You Were Young” was the final piece of the puzzle and one of the great wonders of modern rock music, it lifted the crowd with grace and passion. There is something truly magical about this band’s songs and the immense emotional power that lurks within every soaring melody. Life-changing stuff. Even though the crowd kept chanting for an encore, the band couldn’t stay for long due to their next concert in Malaysia. All in all, mission accomplished.