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Album Review: Our Top 3 Tracks From BTS' EP 'Love Yourself: Her'
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Album Review: 5 Must-Hear Tracks From Paramore’s Latest Record, ‘After Laughter’
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Album Review: Kasabian Revives Rock N’ Roll With New Record – 'For Crying Out Loud'
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There is no doubt that it’s quite a challenge to top last year’s stellar line-up, but 2017 Singapore Grand Prix still continues to attract music fans for its 10th anniversary.

Warming up the eager audience on Night 1 was pop rock band OneRepublic that had fans who waited for 7 hours just to catch them up-close.

The band opened with the heart-wrenching Stop and Stare followed by the anthem of a song that is Secrets, inviting the crowd to sing along with the talented Ryan Tedder. Though as emotional and exciting as it was, the first number did not exactly hype up the vacant-eyed audience as much as the second one, this wasn’t much of a shock as Brent Kutzle breathtakingly brought the latter song to life with his famous cello intro.

Despite the slightly slow start, OneRepublic began to trigger everyone’s sentimentality in moments when Tedder would briefly explain inspirations of songs he wrote for other artists and later belted out live with the band. “If you know this song, sing it. If you don’t, don’t sing it,” Tedder instructed the stunned audience after revealing that he’d co-written Halo by Beyoncé, Happier by Ed Sheeran, and Rumour Has It by Adele.

However, the most memorable part of the evening was when a male fan caught Tedder’s attention midset. It turned out that the fan was at a OneRepublic show in Vancouver three weeks ago and was told by Tedder that he would buy him a beer if he flies to Singapore for their F1 gig. Keeping his word, Tedder immediately handed the fan a beer directly from stage. Talk about dedication!

As expected, F1 shows tend to be generous on the visual front. The alluring lights and impeccable stage set-up made songs like Good Life, Apologize, and Counting Stars more cinematic. Though all good things must come to an end as OneRepublic concluded with the much-awaited Love Runs Out, leaving a group of wide-eyed fans hoping for more.

Finally making their Singapore debut were Ariana Grande and The Chainsmokers on Night 2 at the Padang Stage.

Arianators could be easily spotted in the crowded pit with their black bunny ears, suggesting that they were indeed at the event solely for Grande. This was, of course, just an addition to their passionate singing.

Grande was in full pop star mode with quick costume changes and a variety of props onstage. Her Side to Side performance was delivered exactly like in the music video – a workout themed set up with Grande and backup dancers on exercise bicycles.

Known for her velvety vocals, the 24-year-old effortlessly showed off her prowess in the soulful pop ballad I Don’t Care, which was made even more “eargasmic” by chilling electric guitar solos.

Serving us some words of female empowerment were video interludes that took about 5-10 minutes of the show, which could’ve been at least just dedicated to performing more songs like Problem that we did not hear in its entirety given the limited 60-minute set.

Though Grande’s mere presence already brought excitement to the crowd, a little audience interaction would have been more satisfactory. We’d like to think that she was just saving her energy for a solo tour in Singapore in the near future. But for now, we can only hope.

One might quickly question how pop singer Ariana Grande ended up opening for The Chainsmokers. But the evening itself proved the critics wrong, at least temporarily, as the EDM-pop duo surpassed (almost) everyone’s expectations.

Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have been severely criticized for their music's lack of variety. Although their tracks couldn't necessarily be labeled as "legendary," the duo was able to transform The Padang into a huge dance floor filled with an energetic mob through tracks like Roses, Closer, and Don’t Let Me Down - all of which enticed the crowd to sing along.

It is indeed undeniable that music that’s fun, catchy, and devoid of meaning could be aggressively electrifying. This, of course, wouldn’t be possible without those captivating pyrotechnics and animated emojis.

With unparalleled energy released in the first two evenings of the F1 concerts, we were unfortunately met with gloomy weather on the Night 3. But the skies quickly cleared up prior to Duran Duran’s set, giving us a breezy atmosphere for their '80s new wave music.

The award-winning synthpop band attracted a large group of fans comprising mostly of an older audience who eagerly responded with screams on par with Arianators’ the evening before.

Lead singer Simon Le Bon’s efforts in being culturally inclusive were evident in wittily crafted song introductions, getting audience members to shout out where they’re from preceding the band’s performance of Last Night In The City - a song about bringing people together, according to Le Bon.

“Did you catch your Laksa and Nasi Goreng? Is anybody hungry?” he further asked the crowd before delving into their hit song, Hungry Like A Wolf.

If that wasn’t endearing enough, the entire band manifested an exceptional stage presence that radiated from Dom Brown’s edgy guitar licks to John Taylor’s signature basslines. It’s no wonder that they’re able to attract a huge following of supporters even from the other side of the world.

Working the crowd brilliantly into songs like Save A Prayer and ending their set with Rio, Duran Duran certainly still carries the same fervor from their emergence in the '80s, almost four decades ago. While the crowd, unfortunately, did not get to hear The Reflex live despite their enthusiastic chanting, that devotion in itself demonstrates the band’s undying legacy as new wave icons.

Following the EDM themed dance party this year’s concerts were going for, record producer and DJ Calvin Harris closed the weekend with his jam-packed mixes - some of which constantly struck familiarity amongst the majority of the crowd that probably left the venue as EDM converts.

Radio hits like This Is What You Came For, How Deep Is Your Love, and Outside induced a rare euphoria that everyone would usually be devoid of on a Sunday evening. But before you know it, Rihanna’s vocals slowly enveloped the enormous mosh pit with We Found Love and after which ensued a whirlwind of frenzy.

Did I mention a toddler being carried by his dad in front of me during Calvin Harris’ set? Yes, that happened, and I guess that little boy can proudly tell his friends in the future that he had first “clubbing” experience with Calvin Harris as the DJ.

With this, one might confuse Singapore Grand Prix 2017 as Ultra Singapore given its EDM headliners. However, this risky move unexpectedly revives the definition of an after-party, reminding everyone that this year’s line-up is definitely what a celebration is all about, despite everyone’s doubts.

 

Photo Credit: Singapore GP and Joyce Pang for The Straits Times

Just one day after fellow countrymen Michael Learns To Rock performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Danish alternative rock band, Mew, took the stage at the School of the Arts (SOTA) Concert Hall on 3 September.

The SOTA Concert Hall, although considerably smaller than the Indoor Stadium, provided an intimate setting that was perfect for a band such as Mew. However, while tickets in the circles were sold out, the unoccupied seats littered across the stalls area made it fairly obvious in a space with a mere capacity of 600.

By a quarter past 8, the band was up on stage playing In A Better Place. Special, which followed after, was crowd and the intro of the track had a few popped up from their seats to dance along to the upbeat tempo. As earlier promised in a video greeting to fans in Singapore, the band played a good mix of music from their latest album, Visuals, such as Twist Quest and Nothingness And No Regrets, alongside their older tracks Am I Wry? No and Satellites.

Much to the contrary of his seemingly quiet demeanour, Frontman Jonas Bjerre's falsetto was on point the entire night and especially shone in the likes of Snow Brigade and Waterslides. As each song went by, more and more members of the audience started to get on their feet. By the time the band played Carry Me To Safety, every single person in the concert hall had moved on from crossing their arms and slightly nodding to full-on head banging. It's also worth noting how instead of the band prompting audience members to get up and dance, it was the fans themselves who got those around them to stand by shouting: "Eh, stand leh!"

In the atmosphere that dabbled between the extreme polars of intense and chill, the kaleidoscopic visuals and psychedelic stage lightings were also impeccable that night.

Following in the footsteps of Radiohead, the band performed a second encore with Comforting Sounds, their arguably most defining and awaited track on the setlist. After a mesmerizing extended outro, Jonas took the time to thank and shake the hands of those who were standing in front. His genuine and humble disposition ended the short yet sweet, 1 hour 15 minute concert on a sweet and heartwarming note for both concertgoers and the band who would be embarking on the rest of their Asian and Australian tour.

Photo credits: Jazrel Rezed, @Mewofficial @Rueventan.photo on Instagram

Suspense filled the Singapore Indoor Stadium as the house lights went dimmed. All eyes were glued to the stage for the next 5 minutes, waiting for the stars of the night, Michael Learns To Rock. Yet, all that could be seen were the alphabets "MLTR" flashing on the screens on the left and right.

The last time the Danish pop-rock band played in Singapore was 2 years ago at The Star Performing Arts Centre. Moving back into the Singapore Indoor Stadium is a testament of how well-loved MLTR still is even today. As highlighted by frontman Jascha Ritcher, the last time they played in the same venue was in 1995, which was also their first concert in Asia.

Alas, donned in matching colours of black and red, the band finally came up on stage and catapulted into their timeless classics, Complicated Heart and Sleeping Child

The first half of the concert went like a breeze. Despite a slight misshap with the sound system during Final Destination, the band transitioned from song to song quickly, barely making banter with the crowd. 

It wasn't until the band introductions when things started to get a little exciting. As frontman Jascha introduced his bandmates, it turned out that they had already left the stage. "It's quite scary to be alone on stage like this," he quipped. "I quit, I go home." Fans who were seated along the isles were in for a treat as Jascha walked through the crowd to get to the second stage, located in the middle of the stadium. The rest of the band later joined Jascha and prompted the audience to take out their cellphones. The stadium was transformed into a beautiful spectacle as thousands waved their lighted cellphones.

With screenings of their old music videos playing behind them, the now-middle-aged MLTR still looked just as suave, if not even more so. As if looking into our souls, Jascha winked and made cheeky glances and into the cameras, all while making teasing remarks.

While Jascha remained behind the keyboard most of the time, it was guitarist Mikkel Lentz who walked around the stage to work up the crowd. His gelled-up salt and pepper hair had ladies swooning all around.

In the last quarter of the concert, the band played another set of favourites such as 25 Minutes and Paint My Love. The night ended with an encore performance of That's Why (You Go Away) with a confetti surprise. 

The magic about MLTR is in their music that is able to invoke the nostalgia in the hearts of the old and young alike; those who witnessed the band at its prime in the 90's and those who grew up listening to their music played on their parents' car radio. The band put on a world-class performance that night that will remain in many of our hearts.

 

Photo credits: @iamalextan @mrderektan @aliciacyt90 on Instagram

When you are one of the world's biggest surviving rock band and your return to a country has taken more than 20 years, there is going to be a certain level of expectation set on you.

So when Foo Fighters finally made their highly-anticipated return to our shores at the National Stadium, meeting the expectations of a 20,000-strong crowd was not going to be an easy feat.

It was 8:05pm when the lights dimmed and the sound of electric guitars echoed across the stadium. As if fans were expecting the band to be late, it wasn't until frontman Dave Grohl appeared on the big screen when unprepared fans quickly got onto their feet and erupted in applause to welcome the rock legends on stage.

The night began with I'll Stick Around before diving into the band's greatest hits such as All My Life, Learn To Fly and The Pretender. A friend who was standing in Pen A described her experience in the first few rows as a "gas chamber" and was subjected to "involuntary vertical bodysurfing and moshing", which should've been expected, in my opinion.

It was evident that Singapore's humidity was getting to Dave Grohl when he doused an entire bottle of water on himself, before leading the stadium with My Hero. What a surreal and goosebump-inducing experience it was to listen as the entire stadium sang back its chorus in unison to their heroes on stage.

The entertaining and extended band introductions that came halfway through the set included snippets of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, Stayin' Alive by Bee Gees and Another One Bites The Dust by Queen, all of which came to abrupt endings. "Wrong band," Dave reminded.

Drummer Taylor Hawkins then took over vocals in Cold Day in the Sun, bringing our attention to the photo of a young Chris Cornell that was on his drum set - the band's tribute to the late Soundgarden frontman.

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One of the highlights of the night was the trio from their 2011 Wasting Light album, which included Walk, These Days and Rope. Throughout the two-hour set, the veteran performers were able to kept spirits high and show how a real concert should really be. All around the stadium, fans could be seen dancing, jumping and even running around.

However, as energetic and engaging as it was, Foo Fighters' concert was far from perfect. One of the most obvious drawbacks was the setlist that was shorter than many other stops in their Concrete and Gold tour. Compared to their shows in Europe or the one in Bangkok that took place just two days prior, their show here was cut by at least three songs, including Wheels and Skin and Bones which just so happened to be two of the songs that I was personally eager to watch.

All in all, the band put on a solid show that was in their best ability. Many would guess that there was a strict time limit imposed on the show, so it comes with a sigh of relief that audience interaction was not compromised that night. Despite the shorter setlist, Dave's friendly banter and flying kisses were a good trade-off. "Next time, it won't take 20 years, because I'll be 68 then," he said of the band's next return. We'll hold him to his word.

 

(Photo credits: UnUsUal Entertainment, @gavinlsh, @dodytsepotakuc and @eddyyjh on Instagram)

A teaser for what is to come!

Niall Horan hit the sunny shores of Singapore for a very intimate showcase with just 25 lucky fans, members of the media and invited guests. The surprise gig was only announced earlier this week and fans got the chance to win exclusive invites.

The showcase, of which the location was kept a secret till show day, happened at the Esplanade Annexe Studio. Niall started off the gig with his debut solo single This Town and then continued with an unreleased track (which he mentioned that the release date is still unknown) On The Loose. Just before closing off the show with his latest single Slow Hands, the Irish crooner treated us to a cover of Dancing In The Moonlight by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy.

The set was followed by a short Q&A session that was opened to both fans and the media. Niall told the crowd a little story from the making of his forthcoming album, where he created a song so emotional that it pretty much made a room full of grown men cry. He even promised to revisit this when his album is out later this year!

At the end, Niall also shared that he would love to return to Singapore to perform “a set with 12 more songs” and even take the time to explore the city. We’re excited for the release of his forthcoming solo debut album and hope to see you again!

Check out the highlights below!

 

 


Picture Credits: Spin or Bin Music