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Album Review: Ariana Grande - My Everything
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We made it to Singapore, well, kind of. Apologies in advance for my static show tonight guys, you'll miss out on my questionable shapes tonight.”

Semantically, the above caption by You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi could have spelled disaster mere hours before the Weybridge rockers’ maiden concert here. Seated snugly in a wheelchair with a cheery thumbs-up in the air, Franceschi however, was all smiles in his cheeky Instagram post. Sprained ankle or not, the singer appeared to remain properly chuffed just managing to finally drop anchor in Singapore – a sentiment mirrored by his bandmates and fans alike which would later translate quite majestically that very same evening.

*SCAPE The Ground Theatre was a divergence from the humongous festivals or upcoming arena tours YMAS were steadily getting accustomed to. Yet adorned with the all-pervading Roman “VI”, reality finally sunk in - that the time was nigh and that the lads were actually going to materialise right before us at last. Calling out the miscreants who skived off school to be present, The Caulfield Cult’s wry acknowledgement (in true Holden fashion) of their subordinate status did not mar their efforts in putting up a crushing set. Alongside professing their adoration for male genitalia, Nick Kumar and gang visibly wrung themselves out, complete with an apologetic comeback that hastened the already bubbling anticipation.

Typical Arsenal lad, a few good performances and then gets injured for the rest of the season,” reads a tweet from an astute observer. With an ambulance readily standing by, the central placement of a pedestal only accentuated Franceschi’s plight, drawing a series of compassionate “Aw!”s from the audience. Like the customised jersey of his beloved club Franceschi would still don, the vocalist did not shy away from such realities but instead admirably embraced them as evidenced by the fact there was a show to begin with, notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances. Or as he called it, “F***ed [himself], and not in a good way.”

Hobbling onto stage, Franceschi’s woes were for naught as the crashing riffs of Too Young To Feel This Old drowned any and all doubts about the direction the night was heading. The Limp, as the viral phenomenon shall henceforth be christened, worked out to the band’s advantage – spawning spoofs of A Day To Remember, Fall Out Boy and All Time Low in ranging states of disability much to general mirth and spurts of Dear Maria, Count Me In.

Tapping into his inner Jeremy McKinnon, Franceschi’s flair for gruff anthems like Room To Breathe or even the highly-revered, blood-curdling growl during Bite My Tongue were particularly stand-out renditions that might have even broken out several attempts at a circle pit. Bounded by the consistently buoyant leaps by the pairing of bassist Matt Barnes and guitarist Max Helyer, fan favourites including the chant-worthy Stay With Me and Little Death were bellowed back seamlessly, much to the band’s obvious glee.  

Even sitting down, Franceschi’s command of the crowd was masterly in his determination to ensure the audience got their money’s worth. Unflinchingly, he instructed those present to strip, squat and shove, actions adhered to without much qualms. Sinners Never Sleep’s Reckless saw a venue temporarily fanned by the now-traditional swinging of various items of clothing whereas a slew of courageous souls towered above the rest, swaying to the intricate fretwork of Cold Night.

Thanks to the itch Franceschi possessed to muck about, Chris Miller’s searing guitar solos weren’t left unmolested by the ever-hopping frontman who simultaneously mimed sexual intercourse from behind, causing a right old ruckus. Keeping to Underdog's ethos of Down But Not Out and more recently, Cavalier Youth, it should not be understated how YMAS seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the crowd did. The quintet might not have played a single track off the 6 "rare" ones we so wanted them to perform, but in the irresistible spirit of such a vitalising show despite the odds stacked against them, we can't really complain now can we?

Setlist:

1. Too Young To Feel This Old
2. Underdog
3. Stay With Me
4. Win Some, Lose Some
5. Kiss and Tell
6. The Swarm
7. Little Death
8. Forgive and Forget
9. Room To Breathe
10. Cold Night
11. Reckless

Encore:
12. Bite My Tongue
13. Fresh Start Fever
14. Lived a Lie

All photos by Kathleen Cheong for Spin or Bin Music.

MTV World Stage Malaysia celebrated its sixth anniversary last Saturday on Aug 16, 2014 at the Surf Beach, Sunway Lagoon. As with World Stage tradition, this year’s performance was a mixture of R&B, Hip-Hop, Soulful Pop and K-pop from B.o.B, Yuna, Boys Republic and Thaitanium. Minus Jennifer Hudson.

I was actually looking forward to watch this particular diva sing live ever since she won her Golden Globe and Oscar for her ground shattering performance of And I Am Telling You. Were you one of those people stomping their feet in protest and beating their chest a la King-Kong style? No? I guess it was only just this idiotic writer then.

But as they say in show biz, the show must go on. Kicking things off that evening was Thai-American hip hop music group, Thaitanium. KHAN, WAY, DAY, BIG CALO and Tony B did a commendable job of opening the show on a high note. They did manage to score some extra points when they dedicated their latest single,Wake Up (Bangkok City), to the audience by tweaking it to Wake Up (KL City).

The night’s festivities continued when five cute Korean boys in black and white apparel emerge on stage with a surge of fire power; sending their Royal Family fan-base into a frenzy withYou Are Special. The audience was also treated to a remix version of their hit, Video Game. After a short video interlude and clothing change, One Junn, Sun Woo, Sungjun, Minsu and Suwoong returned to stage to serenade a luck fan girl during Dress Up before ending their show with Party Rock.

Clad in a white and gold ensemble, our very own home girl, Yuna, was welcomed with open arms and proclamations of “I love you!”. From the moment she transition into her first rendition of Falling, everyone present there were mesmerized by her silk soulful tone and charming demeanour.    

Soft yet powerful, Yuna gave fans what they wanted – a balanced combination of English and Malay songs including Mountains, Lelaki, Dan Sebanarya, Lights And Camera, Terukir Di Bintang, and Rescue. Call me bias, but Yuna was easily my favourite performer of the night. In the midst of testosterone men (and boys), she was the rose among the thorns. Wrapping up her set with the up-tempo song, Come Back, this talented singer-songwriter stood out for being picture and pitch perfect!

Since this year’s MTV World Stage was opened by a Hip-Hop/ Rap group, it was only befitting that another rap artist close the show; and who better than the King of collaborations – B.o.B. The international rapper wasted no time by jumping into a 16-track medley including tracks like Don’t Let Me Fall and So Good.

Throughout the night, B.o.B could be seen exchanging high fives, snapping selfies with his fan’s mobile phones and crowd surfing – all these while spitting out verse after verse. He was in short, quite the performer. While rap and hip-hop may not be everyone’s cup of tea, those who dig it had the time of their lives. 

******

Recorded live for global telecast, the show premieres on-air Wednesday, 20 August at 6.30pm (WIB), 7.30pm (SG) and 8.30pm (MAL) and repeats on the same day at 10pm (WIB), 11pm (SG) and 12am (MAL). It premieres in the Philippines on Friday, 29 August at 10pm.

Photo credit: MTV Asia, Lucas Lau, Kristian Dowling & Aloysius Lim

It was hot, sweaty, smelly and exhausting but it was so worth the wait when those 4 familiar figures appeared out of the white smoke. The 1975 had arrived in our small country and they totally blew the Hard Rock Coliseum away. I can’t count how many times the stage smoked white and everyone was cheering thinking the boys were coming out. It was demoralizing to say the least. Even though an eternity seemed to pass during the wait, once they finally were up on stage, they gave everyone their energy back.

Everyone started jumping to the opening song The City and it did not stop there. The boys from Manchester made us dance with upbeat songs like Milk and She Way Out. They swayed us with the bone-shaking ballads Me and fallingforyou. And the moment every girl in the audience was waiting for, frontman Matty finally giving in to our country’s super hot weather and taking off his shirt.

They just could not stop screaming and that was one of the rare times we would be thankful for Singapore’s weather. The moment that really got me was during Head.Cars.Bending. I mean everyone was headbanging in total sync. It was amazingly connecting everyone together. Especially during the fan-favorite slow-beat Robbers everyone was shouting out the lyrics you look so cold! I really loved the songs where the saxophone player was introduced. It totally brought out a whole new dimension to the vibe in the Coliseum.

These boys really brought their A-game that night and despite their bad-boy attitude with the on-stage cigarettes and alcohol, they showed their surprising compassion when they asked everyone to move back to save the people in front who were like fucking dying in front here mate, to quote Matty.

Overall, The 1975 put on a fantastic show, appropriately ending off with the hits Chocolate and Sex. It was just absolutely amazing to see The 1975 live in front of us and we hope they come back soon. As they promised.

Check out our Facebook page for more pictures of The 1975 live in action!

Photo credits: Dominic Phua and Marcus Lin for Now/Live

I first heard of Ellie Goulding when I was living in London in 2010. Back then, she was just a new and upcoming British singer. Fast forward a few years later, she is now a household name with two chart-topping albums with millions of fans all over the world.

This is the second time Goulding graced our shores and it is obvious that her fanbase has increased tremendously. Dressed in a white top, high waisted black pants, heavy flat black boots, the British songstress opened the show with the bombastic Figure 8. Supported by a four-piece band, she sang in her trademark nasally voice.

When she performs, there are no costume changes and no back-up dancers like there might be at a recent Taylor Swift concert that I attended – she gets the crowd going simply with her voice and her songs.

She kept the energy high with Ritual and Goodness Gracious, a recent single co-written with Nate Ruess of Fun, and creating a synth-heavy club feel with Animal. The middle section of the set was slower-paced as she eased into acoustic versions of Gun and Horses and her most recent single Beating Heart, from the Divergent movie soundtrack.

The audience remained captivated as her husky tones remained pitch perfect throughout the night. My favourite part of the night was her signature cover of Elton John’s Your Song. It never fails to touch my heart each time I listen to it.

Goulding finished the night off with her big hit Burn and fans left the concert venue with smiles on their faces after the show - a sure sign of a successful concert.

Here are the top 5 best moments that happened during Ellie Goulding’s concert:

 

1. The crowd sang along to every word during Anything Could Happen.

 

2. Ellie showing off her brilliant guitar and drum skills occasionally throughout her set.

 

3. When Ellie sang I Need Your Love, the entire venue turned into one big dance floor. The crowd were dancing and going crazy!

 

4. The crowd lit up the darkness, holding their mobile phone lights in the air, as Ellie ended her set with a rendition of Lights.

 

5. Ellie promised that she would be back during the concert so we can expect a third concert in the future.

 

Setlist:

1. Figure 8
2. Ritual
3. Goodness Gracious
4. Animal
5. Starry Eyed
6. Stay Awake
7. Tessellate / Life Round Here
8. Guns and Horses (Acoustic)
9. Beating Heart (Acoustic)
10. Your Song (Elton John cover)
11. The Writer
12. Explosions
13. My Blood
14. Bad Girls / Salt Skin
15. Only You
16. Every Time You Go / This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
17. Anything Could Happen
18. I Need Your Love
19. Lights

Encore:
20. You My Everything
21. Burn

Visit our Facebook page for more photos of Ellie Goulding in action!

Photo credits: Marcus Lin for Now/Live

She came, she sang, she conquered. Our affair with her was short and (bitter)sweet, still swirling in our memories like how a certain blackforest flavoured ice-cream left its taste on our tongues.

Country-pop darling Taylor Swift brought the house down in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on a Monday night. How’s that for killing the Monday blues, with the RED tour?

Last seen here in 2011, Swift’s fanbase has increased exponentially – this first show was added in at the last minute but it was sold out completely. The hype speaks for itself. Taylor commanded an entire army of fans, 12,000 strong, right from the moment her sihoulette was casted onto the red drapes on stage.

We hear the first line of State of Grace.

And the curtains were drawn – revealing the star on the top of a wrought staircase, all part of an elaborate stage set-up.

This is it; this is her. It’s Taylor Swift. She is the State of Grace.

This was the exact moment I could pinpoint where I felt like I was in one of her live music videos – incredible. I must admit, we all made fun of her love life, but when you hear the songs about boys who broke her heart, there is a part of you hidden somewhere that says, “Hey, he deserved it.” And she’s seriously so good at doing this; you just got to hand it to her.

Taylor looked every inch the beloved PG-approved popstar that she is, with a freakishly cute bob and her pouty red lips. (Score! This hairstyle wins all the others she had.)

Dressed in a creamy light-brown blouse and her classic high-waisted leather shorts, she strut down down the catwalk and sent us all into her Red World. Plus, her black floppy hat makes her look like she was just lifted straight out of Forever 21’s catalog. And lucky fangirl in the front row got the hat!

The reactions upon her was as if the stage was Holy Ground and if they could kiss it, they would.

We all know Taylor’s mastery of the guitar, piano and banjo, but drums? There was no doubt about that. Swifty thumped hard to the bass line of the song with her backup dancers, the power of each beat sending shivers (the good kind) rippling through the hearty audience.

After all, this was the Red Tour, and the colour symbolizes passion and love – everything Taylor Swift stands for right? (But to a nonchalant person, he/she’d think we were at a National Day Parade celebration.)

Taylor belted out her lines in Red, besting each one that comes before the last. The guitar solo later would induce an adrenaline rush in the crowd akin to driving a new Maserati down a racetrack instead.

That was just the first act. Tay Tay is indeed living up to her last name with her costume changes. She reappeared soon enough donning a gorgeous red gown with a plunging neckline in a Hollywood set-up. Photographers in trenchcoats flashing their clunky cameras at her were reminiscent of Gaga’s Paparazzi.

Taylor sang the story of The Lucky One, following it up with Mean on her banjo. This time, she kept her red gown top on, and wore a simple white satin skirt for the bottom. Sweat is shining on her face all right, but everything else (read: hair, makeup, costume) remains immaculate. How?!

I don’t know about you, but does it feel like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes? Well for Taylor, at least it was. (But I’m pretty sure your exes will be glad you’re an ex if you dress like hipsters no?)

22 was everything fun, pop and playful. But most of all, it was a song that reminded us all again of how young and minted she is. You Belong With Me was a worthy throwback number, which was another crowd favourite too. Taylor's "I Love Singapore" tee still can't beat the fact that her mum actually grew up in Singapore. Mama Swift, represent!

Next came the “surprise song” of the evening, and boy oh boy it was truly a nostalgic surprise. Taylor brought us back in time with her classic heartbreak anthem Teardrops On My Guitar. She strummed, we sang, all without missing a beat, like it was 2007 again and she was still a small town girl hung up on dear old Drew.

That goes to show that fame can’t erode your roots.

After a quick transition into Sparks Fly, Taylor did magic again. However, she would return with what was perhaps the best performance of the night. Scratch that. (Kanye voice) OF. ALL. TIME. *Mic drop*

Forget princess-in-a-fairy-tale, we want the Rebel Taylor.

Introduced by an electric violin instrumental, Taylor busted out a sick dubstep version of I Knew You Were Trouble. She swooped in with a fancy white gown, tearing it off later to reveal a conservatively sexy black corset outfit. A killer act, truly. Any longer and I believe Optimus Prime and his gang of Transformers will arrive soon as her backup crew.

I concede. Taylor’s not a singer, she’s a performer studded with star qualities that skyrocketed her to well-deserved success. And I must add, her dance skills have improved enormously too. More tips from Ellie Goulding, less from Lorde I hope!

Taylor also let us in on her personal songwriting process before segueing into her rendition of All Too Well.

The notes tinkling on the piano slowly climbed into the emotional climax of the night, and right there and then you could see Taylor being "haunted by the good times and the bad, and unable to forget them".

Love Story was poetry in motion, Miss Swift acing her form searching for her stage Romeo - down the spiral staircases and in her flowy cream dress. Truth be told girls want to be her, guys want to... not be the man of her songs.

Lo and behold the final act of the show: Taylor ditched her man and went off prancing for greener pastures.

It was an extravaganza very much like a cross between Cirque du Soleil and Alice in Wonderland. Taylor seemed every bit the regal circus mistress dishing out the breakup hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Fellow writer Zi Wei and I definitely had fun pretending to be a couple yelling out the lyrics to each other!

Taylor might have her fair share of critics and detractors calling her 'overrated', but you know they can never be 'Taylor Swift overrated' when she can hold her own and rise against those who break her heart.

***

Before you check out the setlist below, this is what I'm 100% sure everyone says before attending a Taylor Swift concert:

I say...

They confess...

P.S - It was lifechanging.

 

Setlist:

Act I - Red World

1. State of Grace
2. Holy Ground
3. Red

Act II - The Lucky One

4. The Lucky One
5. Mean

Act III - Happy, Free, Confused and Lonely / B-Stage

6. 22
7. You Belong With Me
8. Teardrops On My Guitar
9. Sparks Fly

Act IV - Dark Red

10. I Knew You Were Trouble
11. All Too Well

Act V - Love Story

12. Love Story

Act VI - Circus (Encore)

13. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Photo credit: Cornetto, Taylor Swift's Official Singapore Facebook fanpage, Instagram: @bellaella777, @inspirashion, @shawfearless13, @cleosy, @frhn, Brooklyn 99