Rachael Yamagata

Venue: Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore
Date: 2nd March 2013
Promoter: Greenhorn Productions
Review by: Fadhil R.
Special Thanks: Sylvia and the Greenhorn Productions team

Rachael Yamagata is not finished. She knows it and it was a wise idea for her to come back to Singapore on 2nd March 2013 to perform for us once more.

It was considered to be an active turnout at Esplanade Concert Hall as the smell of different perfumes began to soak in. A good sign of a beautiful, mixed community? Of all the pleasant surprises I have seen at the start of some concerts, this was one of them – our homegrown band by the name of Deon was the surprise package that many did not expect. With time to spare before our beloved Rachael Yamagata made her entrance, Deon ignited the crowd with emotions and sent them to oblivion. Songs like “Winter Heart”, “Wolves”, and “Take My Heart With You” were enough to see them delivering a brilliant musical project mainly on a single genre. The voice of Deon reminded me of a young James Morrison when consistency was the key to a good set of songs. Well, you know they are destined for greatness when Rachael kept talking about how excellent they were and that they could be serious contenders in Singapore’s music industry. Good luck to Deon as they raise funds to be a part of Canadian Music Week 2013!

Following Deon’s set, Rachael Yamagata slowly stepped onto the stage, diverting the spotlight from everyone else at Esplanade Concert Hall and here’s the reason why. She is back at our shores for the fifth time; giving her soul and putting it out there in every performance she has produced to influence our minds with her superb songs each time. There were no awesome fireworks or backup dancers to move along to her rhythm. She was a lone ranger dressed in black overalls, accompanied by her amazing band by which did not leave her isolated in the opening minutes of her act. The audience was very much well prepared as the atmosphere was filled with calm and respect. At this point, she seemed to really love our small island as she gave a big cheeky smile and introduced herself once again by stating, “We’ll start with rock and then move to depressing matters.”

Her giggles and quirky jokes remind me of Adele’s humor as she dances to the rhythm of “Worn Me Down” and “Letter Read”. With her masculine guitar strapped onto her, she did an amazing job by adding extra comedic tunes with cheesy lyrics she conjured up in between sets of songs. “You Won’t Let Me” was impossible to resist as it got me on various degrees of emotions. To understand her kind of music, you have to go through the hell she’s been through. It’s all about bad relationships, coming home to nothing and post-breakup songs; attempting just one melody for her to change the whole mood of the audience. Pure brilliance. It wasn’t that bad after all for “Saturday Morning” to be played on a Saturday night. It was such a lazy song for you to sit back and admire her soothing raspy voice, cracking in certain parts, but that’s the beauty of it!

Oh, remember that she said something about depressing matters? “Elephant” gave that some much needed treatment for those broken hearts among the audience. However, “It’ll Do” from her recent EP album Heavyweight was a blessing in disguise. That particular song, including the whole album deserves a standing ovation. New realities or old experiences, Rachael won’t stop proving us with her sumptuous pattern of melodies.

Thank God for “Even If I Don’t”, because that song made her guitarist hipster creepy, but in a positive way. Perhaps he was lost in translation but he really worked that guitar without using a pick, slapping those strings, which meddled with the sounds of Rachael’s guitar. Intense throughout. “Dealbreaker” and “Duet” ensued as her set was coming to an end. Despite the fact she was feeling unwell due to her recent trip to Bangkok for a show (probably caused by the crazy change in weather), her face was glowing for all of us. One thing that cannot be contested is that Rachael feels she has conquered a long-standing love for music. Her musical instruments are her best friends and will always be there.

There was a funny moment when Rachael asked the audience if anyone is married and no one raised their hand. She immediately turned around to her band while keeping the microphone away from her and whispered, “We’re the great depression, I guess.” Well, obviously the entire audience burst out laughing because of that and Rachael dedicated “Be Be Your Love” to the married people, chuckling at the previous statement she made. Nearing the end of the song, Rachael made her way out followed by every member of the band, knowing that the audience could not afford a concert without an encore.

Rightly so, a few minutes later Rachael came back on the stage after a minute of loud applause from her loyal fans and her creativity cannot be understated to what’s coming up next. This was the main highlight of the whole set as she called upon Shirlyn, her biggest fan from the audience to sing along with her to the intimate tune of “Reason Why”. One fan’s dream came true as she embraced Rachael with open arms, becoming clear that their duet was something special to be remembered. The whole one-hour show can considered to be more than ordinary as Rachael created a perfect ending night of their tour with “Heavyweight” and an appealing cover of Keely Smith’s “I Wish You Love” with everyone snapping to their fingers. Rachael jokingly inserted some of her own lyrics, “You’ll never get snow in Singapore. You’ll rarely get cold in Singapore.” True in every sense.

Hopefully Rachael Yamagata able to repeat her feat in years to come, and who knows – she might even bringing someone to collaborate with live on stage! Thank you Greenhorn Productions for having faith in Rachael Yamagata.