Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

Language. Sex. Violence… And a missing slipper?

May 4, 2010

Event: Stereophonics live in concert
Date: April 30, 2010 (Friday)
Venue: Fort Canning Park, Singapore

A local DJ was on stage that evening, blasting through the speakers throngs of Britain’s best music. From a couple of numbers by Tears For Fear, who will be stopping by Singapore themselves not soon after, and the now disbanded Oasis. Everyone sang along, “Because maybe / You’re gonna be the one that saves me / And after all / You’re my wonderwall”, reminiscing the last time these Brit lads stopped by the country before they went their separate ways, while prepping for the other decade-old band who will be taking the stage very soon.

It was a good thing the concert was at Fort Canning Park. The ground is slanted the way an indoor stadium is built, so no matter where you stand, you will still be able to see the stage. So, it is quite a good thing for me who has height incompetence. The only beef for me, was the PDA couple standing in front of me at the beginning of the show. The guy’s entire head was blocking my view, and not only that, I only got to see the full view of Kelly Jones in between their constant kisses.

Mind you, I don’t have problems with PDA couples. You want to show the world you are in love, kissing and touching and hugging each other every other second, by all means. I wish you a happy marriage with lots of kids. But just. Don’t do it right in front of my face when I’m trying to enjoy the one good thing in my life for being single.

Half of the 5,000 strong crowd that night was made up of foreigners. Some from Wales themselves, like the band; one of them even bore the Welsh flag. But things got somewhat hooligan-ish for me sometimes, what with the beers being served and all. A fight almost broke out right in front of us too. And something more – offensive – which will be mentioned later on this entry.

Stereophonics opened the last show on their tour with lukewarm numbers of Live ‘n’ Love and A Thousand Trees, before taking things up a notch with I Got Your Number, Superman and Doorman.

Hidden in the dark at the side of the stage were more than 10 guitars propped upright like those selling in guitar stores. Throughout the show, Jones, Richard Jones and Adam Zindani would change guitar for every new song, practically more often than a hygienic nut would switch underwears.

But I would like to believe Jones’ true rockstar soul lie in the well-worned strings of his cherry red Gibson SG he has been known to perform with throughout his years of showmanship. Every time he positions the well-polished and lustful guitar on his right hip, he would churn out hair raising guitar solos in Superman, Doorman and Trouble that would make the most uptight person in the crowd headbang to the addictive beats.

Seeing that it was their Keep Calm and Carry On tour, Stereophonics hit quite a number of tracks from the album, including the only slow number that’s becoming a quick favourite for many – Could You Be The One? Paired up with that were older darlings: Maybe Tomorrow, Mr Writer (I thought I heard someone doing a solo number on the piano, or was it just a recording), The Bartender and The Thief, Have a Nice Day… and gasp, when did Javier Meyler go all shirtless at the back? Yum.

It was a shame though, that they did not perform much from Language. Sex. Violence. Other? and Pull the Pin, two of which I favour more over the rest. Stereophonics’ older albums were more languid, and perhaps that is how they flow since 1992, and that is how the fans like them. But it would have been a loud and insane show with Deadhead, Devil and Soldiers Make Good Targets thrown into the playlist. And it would have been sweet to hear It Means Nothing, Lolita and Stone live as well. Alas.

But. When the familiar introductory chords of Bright Red Star chimed through the speakers, and the stage lights went down to a deep sensual red, my heart soared. The moment I have been waiting for since Kelly Jones told me they play the song every night has arrived. It’s my favourite song.

However, it saddens me that Vern was right. For every few seconds that I could break myself from the crowd to pay close attention to Jones’ raspy and breaking voice that sang the lyrics oh so carefully, and Zindani’s bright and clear closing solo, I was immediately snapped back to earth. There were two guys behind me who suddenly seemed to be talking all too loudly in their Singaporean twanged English, and in front of me, another couple moving their heads in and out of my sight to say something to each other. I looked around me, and everyone was just.not.listening. Perhaps I am the only one in the world who likes Bright Red Star, when everyone else craves for Dakota or Mr Writer or Have a Nice Day. Meh.

Things took a turn towards the end when the band broke into the famous Local Boy in a Photograph. Everything was fine and dandy, when suddenly, someone from the crowd threw a slipper onstage and hit Jones square in the face. As the rest of the band continued playing, the lead stopped and moved away from the microphone. He then put down his guitar; he was not at all pleased.

Perhaps he was angry – he flew all the way from the UK to play one last show for us, and this is how we repay him? Perhaps he was embarrassed and hurt – decade-old rockstars or not, to get a slipper thrown at you (and hit your face, may I add), it’s just plain saying, “You suck. Get off the stage.”

Jones picked up the slipper, held back his emotions (I would like to believe), said good night to the crowd, and walked off the stage. R Jones, Zindani and Weyler followed suit.

Everyone was stunned. Some booed, some cursed. Some wondered was that it, was the show over just like that. Some checked their cameras to see if that priceless moment was caught in their frames or not. Later, as the security guards escorted the slipper culprit out of the concert venue, everyone booed at him as he passed by.

I just stood there. I felt bad for Kelly Jones.

Fortunately, Stereophonics came back on. (It would totally suck – especially for me, mind you – if that was really it). But something in the air shifted. Although Jones tried to keep calm and carry on (sorry, can’t resist it), thanking the crowd for coming out before delving into the encore of The Bartender and the Thief, not even trying to make sarcastic or comedic remarks on what just happened earlier. I am sure everyone in Fort Canning Park that night, including the band, knew it was just not the same anymore.

The concert came to a quick end with Dakota. The band trying their best to steer things right again for their last show of the tour. The fans jumping and singing along to Jones’ repetitive lines of “So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now”. Yet, nobody could help bring things to the kind of perfect ending we all hoped for.

Despite Stereophonics paying lesser attention to my favourite albums, people around me not being as civilised as I hope they would be, and the whole slipper incident, not to mention the fact that I have to fly all the way to Singapore just to see them two days later, I am still glad I caught them live. I could not help but smile every time. Hearing Jones’ whisky voice that I have heard so often I’ve made it one of the most distinguishable vocals I favour. Seeing him crunch out all those splendid guitar solos on his beloved cherry red Gibson.

I have made Kelly Jones one of my favourite vocalists for a long time now. To get to see him live that night, and not to mention meeting him in person, it is definitely something I would tell my grandkids about someday.

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All our base are belong to VGL!

April 22, 2010

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio:
1. Stereophonics live in Malaysia, Apr 28, AND Singapore, Apr 30
2. Peaches live in Singapore @ Apr 28, 2010
3. This is a story of a bunch of girls

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Event: Video Games Live
Date: April 17, 2010 (Saturday)
Venue: Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

OK, before I get crucified here at my own blog, I have to admit I am not exactly a hardcore video games fan. My video gaming days dated back when computers were still Internet-less and my sister and I were taking turns to play games off the IBM 5¼ inch floppy disks (yes, I kid you not) when we were on home arrest for chicken pox, Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans being my favourites then.

As well as when video game consoles were still using them ROM catridges, and my neighbours and I would trade them back and forth for new games – Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Excitebike (love this), Ice Climber, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Adventure Island, Street Fighter, Contra, Double Dragon, to name a few. After that, the rest of my knowledge on video games came solely from my guy friends, who actually play the games.

So, you have got to give me credit that I am not at a total loss when it comes to video games. I guess I would not mind getting in the whole video gaming thing, if I do not actually, well, suck at playing console games. I do. Ask my mom. Other than that, I can always pull the ‘I’m a girl’ card. Heh.

The geekdar is off the charts last Saturday over at KL Convention Centre. Not only was the weekend of the PIKOM PC Fair, Video Games Live was also happening on the same day. It was like saying: “Come buy some computers, and while you’re here, enjoy a concert dedicated to video games!” I am sure some tech geek out there was having a virtual orgasm that day. Heh.

There were two pre-show activities going on before the concert, one being the Guitar Hero challenge, and another, the Cosplay competition. I missed the Guitar Hero session, but managed to catch a few Cosplay characters wandering the foyer.

Here is Nemesis from Resident Evil.

Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter sharing a shot without going expelliarmus on each other.

Can he even see where he is going?

With the immensity of Video Games Live, I guess I expected more people to play dress up. I have seen a larger community of Cosplayers wandering around One Utama a while back, so I thought it would be massive that day. Alas.

Before the concert started, all Cosplayers were ushered up onstage. The one with the loudest applause from the crowd wins.

Cute. /girl

It was a close call between Nemesis and Master Chief. And Nemesis won in the end.

Under the conduction of Jack Hall, co-founder of Video Games Live, the National Symphony Orchestra kicked off Malaysia’s instalment with a medley of Classic Arcade:

Pong. The video game that started it all.

Space Invaders.

Tetris.

And others like Donkey Kong, Outrun, Contra and such.

Tommy Tallarico – who, by the way, is the cousin to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith – emerged after that, sporting his Spidey T-shirt and shoes, to give us a brief run through on what VGL was all about, dropping our infamous lah suffix here and there.

First up was music from Metal Gear Solid.

With some Cosplay going on, and Tallarico hiding in the box behind. Heh.

God of War.

With the bone chilling voice of Laura Intravia.

A member of the audience was invited onstage to play a little game of Space Invaders for 2 minutes. The winning prize was a Katana desktop video arcade machine.

The tricky part was that the player had to move left and right accordingly like the laser cannon on screen. He even had on a T-shirt with the laser cannon on the back. Heh.

Ralph Baer, creator of Pong and the Father of Video Games, also made an appearance that night. Live via Skype, apparently. I was skeptical at first if he was indeed talking to us live, but after getting confirmations from those who have gone to the evening show, it was just a recording. Unless Baer is really semangat, staying up late and all just to say hi to us.

Next up was Sonic the Hedgehog.

Intravia a.k.a Flute Link returned back onstage dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda for a flute solo. Oh, to have half the talent as she does when I was in high school.

Then, the orchestra did The Legend of Zelda.

An interval.

I wonder what happens if the download fails. You know how slow and wonky our connection is here.

Kickstarting things again with a Disney medley of Kingdom Hearts.

And then. World of Warcraft.

Another special guest. Norihiko Hibino, music composer of Metal Gear Solid, performing Snake Eater.

The beloved Super Mario Bros.

Then, the winner from the Guitar Hero challenge earlier was invited onstage to strut his stuff.

He was to score 220,000 points on Hard, in order to win an autographed VGL poster, signed by Koji Kondo, music composer of The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. He got to play the soon-to-be-released Guitar Hero: Van Halen, rocking out to Jump, playing alongside Tallarico himself. Things got interesting when he decided to up the game, to play on Expert instead.

The kid didn’t win though. But he was only some 20,000 points behind, and he did get the poster after all.

Now, till this point, Tallarico was to me just someone with a great idea to revolutionise the worlds of video games and symphony orchestras. But still, I have definitely underestimated him when the concert continued with him at his electric guitar, going through themes from Mega Man, Halo and Halo 3.

Master Chief returned.

Absolutely loving Tallarico’s Spidey guitar as he rocked out to Final Fantasy VII‘s Advent: One-winged Angel.

For the encore, Castlevania.

And Chrono Trigger.

With Hall on his acoustic guitar.

It was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, orchestral music that leaves your skin all pimply, mixed with a tinge of fun you get from the video game world.

It goes without saying that it is a must for video games enthusiasts to patronise the concert. Heck, everyone was having a ball spotting as many classic arcade games as they could, and cheering everytime the theme from their favourite game was played live.

But, I suppose, if you were only a fan of the music, you would enjoy yourself too. The hair on the back of my neck stood so often, I thought they were just going to fall off my skin.

Tallarico was quite a good sport too, dropping jokes and banters here and there, so he and his army definitely had the crowd going. Besides, it’s video games. Most of the job is already done for you already anyway. Heh.

But despite the goosebumps, I expected better performance from the National Symphony Orchestra. Quite often, I barely noticed the music was actually live. And I don’t suppose that’s a good thing. Perhaps the graphics backdrop kind of took half of our attention away. Or maybe, I should have stopped taking so many photos that day, and just sit down and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Meh.

But, all in all, the inner geek in me had a good time. She came out from the back of the closet and bathed in the sun of pure geekdom. They totally had me with the introductory poem: “Roses are #FF0000 / Violets are #0000FF / All your base are belong to us!” Good to see my graphic designing days finally paid off with such a cheap thrill. Heh.

I could not stop smiling to myself everytime something I recognise came on screen. Brought back a piece of childhood memory I have almost forgotten over time, but still intact – though vaguely – in my mind. Ah, the kind of smile you would have on your face when you recall those good ol’ games you used to spend time on.

My Saturday was definitely pwned by the people of Video Games Live.

Glory, glory, Kings of Convenience!

March 23, 2010

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: The story of two kings, conveniently.

—–

Event: Kings of Convenience live in concert
Date: March 21, 2010 (Sunday)
Venue: Bentley Music Auditorium, Wisma Bentley Music

Sunday afternoon’s torrents of rain slowly came to mere drizzles. All over the country, thousands of football fans flocked to their nearest mamak stalls to watch the live match, emanating bouts of cheers heard throughout the neighbourhood with every hit and miss.

Whereas, a minority of some 1,000 fans travelled from all over Klang Valley – perhaps even the country – to an unusual concert venue just to see two Kings who came all the way from Norway. People with bobbed haircuts and oversized horn-rimmed glasses and too short hems of jeans, speaking fluent Cantonese with their similarly styled friends, as they sauntered into the venue. Not to be stereotypical, but I did not realise Kings of Convenience would actually attract a sold out crowd, let alone those who would prefer not to converse in English.

Security was strict that night, especially when it comes to cameras. Later, we found out that it was the Kings’ special order to tone down on the photo-snapping, even though they were flash-less. Something to do with the tiny clicks the cameras make. Erlend Øye asked fans to not take pictures in the first 30 minutes, but thereafter, it was up to our fancies, with the double-edged undertone of “that is, if you don’t mind bothering the people next to you.”

But, being Malaysians, cameras were still sneaked into the venue right under the bulky security’s nose. Some were iffy at first, whether or not to lift up their cameras after Erlend’s request. But eventually, the snappers let loose, Blackberry units with red blinking lights recording song after song – like little assassins, as if waiting for the right moment to strike the Kings down.

As jesters of the evening to entertain the crowd before the Kings took the stage – Tenderfist, a local synth pop group, which I am quite happy to say, sounds pretty close to The Postal Service. Why the world said Owl City ripped The Postal Service off, was beyond me, especially seeing that it is doubtful Adam Young even know who they are. But after hearing Tenderfist for the night, I am glad that at least someone – not to mention, someone from Malaysia – is doing things the right way. Ben Gibbard would be proud.

They were unlike any Kings in the world. Humble and modest, so much so that they opened their show with My Ship Isn’t Pretty – nothing too upbeat, just something as simple as the plucking of the acoustics to ease us in.

Erlend Øye kept the crowd close to his heart, pleasing us quite easily whenever he struck a few dorky dance moves ala Napoleon Dynamite in Sing Softly to Me, or doing his amazing trumpet imitation in Second to Numb, or got us snapping our fingers away and singing in a choir in Little Kids.

Eirik Glambek Bøe was less mobile as he had his own words to pay attention to. But he kept the crowd on little laughing frenzies speaking in Bergensk (I think), then blaming the sound system for speaking in such a foreign language to us.

Small jokes aside, Eirik kept us close to his heart too, serenading us with songs mostly from Declaration of Dependence, such as Me in You, Mrs Cold, Rule My World, and Boat Behind – which got the crowd singing along: “Oh woah woah woah woah / I could never belong to you / Oh woah woah woah woah / I could never belong to you.”

Also, not forgetting beloved ones from their earlier albums – I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From, Homesick (which quickly became a favourite for me), Gold in the Air of Summer, and of course, I’d Rather Dance with You, which they had Tenderfist up on stage again during the encore to play with them.

And what is a song about dancing with someone without actually, well, dancing with someone? Handpicked by Erland himself, a lucky fan got to go on stage to struck some Napoleon moves with him, and share his microphone singing, “I’d rather dance, I’d rather dance than talk with you / I’d rather dance, I’d rather dance than talk with you.”

Here is a video of it:

Personally, I thought that other song Kings of Convenience did with Tenderfist was better. I loved it when they got the crowd clapping along to Tenderfist’s synth pop beats and Erland pulling it in with his trumpet imitation and the lights in a colourful array projecting off the ceiling.

I loved that moment.

We had close encounters with the Kings after their gig. While we were smoking outside, a security guard escorted a timid-looking Eirik past the awe-struck crowd towards the loo, and then after that, Erland.

They were merely a breath away from me.

I guess this is what it feels like to be with someone of ‘royalty’ status – you just get starstruck and stand frozen in place, not sure whether to quickly whip out your camera, or open your mouth to say something – anything – and risk sounding like an idiot. I suppose days of mobbing fans were over too; security had only to whisper a quiet ‘excuse me’ to get through the crowd. No holding people’s hands were necessary, either.

It was a pleasure to be in the same presence with such Kingly figures, especially in a venue like Bentley Music Auditorium – spacious enough to house a lot of fans, but not too much that it loses its intimacy of such fragile bands. Well done, Junk and Soundscape Records. And of course, Tenderfist and Kings of Convenience themselves.

* Thanks Reta for helping to smuggle in the camera and take photographs during the concert.

Florence hits the XX spot.

February 9, 2010

Event: Florence and the Machine + The XX live in concert
Date: February 7, 2010 (Sunday)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre, Singapore

It has been a while since my last concert stint, let alone one that goes on in Singapore. Not counting MTV World Stage and the humiliating pukefest at Hennessy Artistry, the last full fledge concert for me was Coldplay‘s back in March. That is almost a year ago. Even when I heard the throngs of bands making their way down to Singapore in January – ie. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day and supposedly, The Killers – I could not even find it in me to make myself go to any of it. Like a guy who couldn’t get it up after being abstinence for a year.

It was on New Year’s Day, after spending another lonely New Year’s Eve the night before, when I woke up in the morning and decided I would like to go to a concert. And since I have made The XX’s self-titled album one of my top 5 favourite albums of 2009, I thought it was only right to go to their concert last weekend. Besides, SGD73 for two bands – that is a fucking steal for me who just wants to reawaken my concert bug.

I knew I should have bought the floor seatings, even though the seats left were the ones way at the back. Because when The XX came on stage and Jamie Smith fired up the MPC with Intro that opened the album oh so well, as if it was part of their gimmick, the crowd from the floor seatings flooded to the front of the stage almost simultaneously. It was quite a sight, actually. But me, being way up on the second level, could only watch and brood, and remind myself never to buy balcony seats. Ever.

Seeing The XX live, was like being transported into the twilight zone. What with Smith’s captivating beats, and Romy Madley Croft’s guitar riffs, which could probably be an entirely new band member on its own. And the switching strobe lights of yellow, blue, red and green on the simple set of double X’s. It is easy to just close your eyes, and feel the melodic strums of Crystalised, Islands and Night Time seep into your veins. I did just all of that, but I think I fell asleep during the last song, Infinity. I don’t care what you say; it was a long day for me, alright?

It is not to say I do not enjoy seeing them live, but I suppose there is nothing to shout about. I was not expecting much anyway. They were pretty much the same as they are in their album. Croft (who sometimes sounded like Lisa Hannigan with a perpetual sore throat) and Oliver Sim were not the best singers out there, but they pretty much made up for everything with their instruments, which we already knew upon listening to XX. They played almost everything off the album, except – of all songs to leave out – Heart Skipped a Beat, which was my favourite, and Stars.

And just like that, the first half was over, and the next thing I knew, I was standing in line to go to the washroom with a quivering bladder. Heh.

Things sort of perked up when it was time for Florence and the Machine. I, for one, definitely was refreshed when Florence Welch strolled out to the stage with her flowing skirt and legs that go on for fucking miles.

All you lucky ones by the stage, I hope at least one of you grazed her legs for me – either purposely or accidentally – instead of just reaching for her hand, and taking pictures with her. Throughout the night, I was just waiting for her to throw back her skirt one more time just to have another glimpse of her lovely legs. Heh.

I thought they would have picked a better song to open their set than My Boy Makes Coffin. But the crowd did not mind. Right after that was the debut single that put Florence and the Machine on the map to stardom – Kiss with a Fist. Upbeat and contagious, everyone was dancing and banging their heads along to the beat.

But I especially love what she had done to Blinding, my favourite off the album Lungs. With Christopher Llyod Hadden’s profuse and prim thumps of the drums and Tom Monger’s staccato riffs on the harp, to go with the ten yellow lights beaming at us at the upper levels, and Welch’s perfectly toned voice for the chorus of “No more dreaming like a girl so in love, so in love / No more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world”. I could feel every beat of the drum, and every pluck of the strings, and every syllable of her words. Like a tattoo etching a reminder on my skin – forever.

It could pretty much be the climax of the show.

Sexy legs aside, Welch is pretty much a chirpy character onstage. Although I found it rather amusing when she rambled on on how glad she was to be in Singapore and the fine city (no pun intended, or is there?), I thought it was cute of her when she started entertaining two fans at the front with their polaroids – snapping shots with them, and even took a couple of the crowd with the house lights on.

And it was a beautiful sight – but yet again, an envious one – when she got the entire crowd jumping in unison to her fun loving Dog Days Are Over. Ah, to be in the midst of the crowd then.

Florence and the Machine pretty much performed all the songs off Lungs – the screamus maximus Howl, Drumming Song that sounded too much like Beyonce’s Crazy in Love for comfort, a cover of Cold War Kids’ Hospital Beds, and for the finale, another beloved number – Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) with the fans hitting her back with echoes of “Raise it up, Raise it up!” along with Hadden’s catchy rhythms.

It was nice to be able to include Florence and the Machine and The XX on my ‘have seen live in concert’ list, especially since they are quite new a band to even consider swinging by Singapore. With the crappy seats I have (and for that, I apologise for the crappy concert pictures again), and the fact that they are less than 5 years old as a band, and also that I am new to them as well (I actually only checked out Florence and the Machine for the sake of the concert, really), I do not really have any expectations for them to blow me away.

It was a good experience, nonetheless. Florence and the Machine over The XX, though. Lesson learned, of course: if I were to see them live again, I will definitely make sure to get floor seating tickets, even if it is only to be able to graze Welch’s lovelies. Heh.

MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”

August 18, 2009

Event: MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
Date: August 15, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach

I was late for the concert because I was under the impression that there were smaller supporting acts opening for the seven headliners. I remembered hearing One Buck Short and Seven Collar T-shirts on the list. So, I took my own sweet time having dinner in Sunway Pyramid, and then accompanying a friend outside while waiting for another friend, who was this close to forgoing the concert.

So, I missed out on Estranged and Boys Like Girls performances. Meh. Apparently, it was raining before the concert began and it started up again during Boys Like Girls’ set, and coincidentally while they were playing Thunder. Heh. Maybe the rain gods like emo rock. Don’t know.

Reports also showed that they performed Love Drunk, The Great Escape and Hero/Heroine, while Estranged, Slave in Us, Ketika Ini and Yang Pernah.

I assumed the Gold ticket for media would be up front where the Moshpit was, but apparently, it was way at the back.

Further back behind from the Red Zone, and next to the Platinum Zone.

So, we decided to fuck it and hang out at the Moshpit instead, where most of the media members were. The security was being a little anal about letting us in because they said it was “already packed” and they could not admit any more people for “safety reasons”, when there was clearly ample space inside.  But after some coaxing and ‘promising’ that we will behave, they let us through. Heh.

Next up was Raygun. I have heard some of their songs on their MySpace and I thought they were quite impressive for a new band. Constantly overshadowed by the more popular bands, their names could have easily fallen off the MTV World Stage banners and nobody would have cared. But they managed to salvage their reputation when they grabbed the attentions of many with hits like Just Because, Waiting in Line and See You Later. They had the whole 70s vibe going on, and the only thing missing was their flashy outfits that they raved about in their releases. But overall, they did well, and I am sure they have gotten themselves some new fans that night.

During MTV World Stage, in between sets there were ass-long intervals, which made the night-long all the more unappealing. VJs and sponsors would come out and throw freebies to the people at the Moshpit, and always those at the left and centre, never the right. Don’t know why. And later in the night, they even had this DJ Rouge come out to spin some mainstream tracks. Nobody cared though; most of the moshpitters took this opportunity to just collapse onto one another after their – uh – moshing.

Pixie Lott came up next and did only three songs: Turn it Up, Boys and Girls and Mama Do. I thought she was a little out of place for MTV World Stage. Not only because she was the only female and solo performer, her music is pop. So. Yeah. She did alright, just think nobody was really impressed.

With all the newbies and local bands out of the way, things were expected to get interesting from here onwards. Fans were entertaining themselves during intervals, tweeting one another and seeing their messages on the big screens. Heh. I saw one from someone, who apparently broke his/her H1N1 quarantine just to be at MTV World Stage. Fanatic or just stupidly irresponsible, you be the judge.

There was also a twitter/SMS constipation throughout the concert; nothing went through. So yeah.

As the night grew deeper and the crowd was more than hyped up, it was apparent that we had won the battle between man and nature as the rain decided to come again another day. With that, the 15,000 plus strong gave a hearty rejoice for Hoobastank’s third return to Malaysia.

I caught them back in 2004, and it was nice to see them perform again. They kept the rock spirit going with an opening of My Turn and The Letter, when Doug whipped out an acostic guitar for the latter.

Then, they went back in time to the song that kicked start their career, Crawling In the Dark, and the fans in the moshpit went insane!

Some kids were getting ahead of themselves and started to mindlessly crash against people, when the security came in, pulled them aside, whispered something in their ears before releasing them back to the bunch. And this happened for quite a few times too, heh. So, if you were wondering why things were a tad bit too quiet up front – now you know why.

Half of the time I felt bad for them because they seemed to be having real fun until the security became all mommy says on them. But another half of the time, I was kind of glad people did not randomly knock up against me.

Hoobastank also managed to humour the crowd with a short sing-a-long to the theme of Ghostbusters, which I thought was adorable, before closing with the song that everyone was anticipating forl. No surprises here – The Reason. And yes, you guessed it. Everyone was singing the loudest along to this song.

The rock baton was passed on next to the world’s favourite rejects, the All-American Rejects. The glitter-covered Tyson Ritter (Tyson Glitter – haha), along with his band mates kicked off their set list with Dirty Little SecretSwing Swing and I Wanna.

They were probably the only band who did the most songs, which I thought was redundant, because while they dragged on with Real World, The Wind Blows and It Ends Tonight (that came with a wonderful piano perlude), I could literally feel the fans behind me in the Red Zone getting bored and falling silent. Heh.

It was also my second time catching them live. First time when I was in Brisbane and could barely see them in between taller people’s shoulders. It was none the better for this. And I thought Tyson was scary looking with his neon bright singlet and glitters and – big eyes.

But anyway, they reclaimed everyone’s love when they closed with Gives You Hell that came with another 15,000 karaoke session.

A lot of people left after that, and if you were one of them, you are going to feel gravely sorry right about now because what finalised MTV World Stage was better than All-American Rejects.

We moved from the right wing of the Moshpit to the centre for Kasabian‘s set, and I was kicking myself why I did not stand there for the entire concert.

It was mind blowing in the centre and I loved it.

No one was more grateful that night than the lead Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.
“I’m alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as the much loved Club Foot and more. They even got girls from the moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and some of them attempting to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach.

No one was more grateful to be there that night than Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.

“I’m still alive! I’m still alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as other songs like Stop and the much loved Club Foot and more.

OK, maybe Kasabian got more songs than All-American Rejects but fuck, it was all necessary for them. Granted I only know Kasabian by name and Club Foot (but at least I know they exist way before you all did – har har), but I liked their set the most.

They even got girls from the Moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and someone even attempted to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach. Heh.

Overall, the concert was a good attempt. I was not expecting much from them because seeing that they were short for time and would most certainly perform only radio overplayed hits. And also, a lot of people were not pleased in the Red Zone, what with the uncontrolled moshing and crowdedness, not to mention the fact that no freebies because you guys are just too far away. Glad I was not there. Meh.

But I thought it was good enough. It was a nice opportunity to just get away from life altogether and just be emerged in some deaf defying music. It was good. I desperately wished I could do this all the time, and that weekend could have gone on forever and ever and ever and ever. Alas.

** Yea, I know, bad pictures and videos, what can you do.

++
Also check out:
MTV World Stage : Backstage

Onward the Prospekt’s March.

March 25, 2009

Event: Coldplay live in concert
Date: March 23, 2009 (Monday)
Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore

Two things. One: Singapore has this eeriely perfect vibe going on, it gives me the creeps. Two: I have been having an upset tummy since last Friday so if I wrote out of line for this entry, blame the tummy.

On to more serious business. I did not receive any news that there was going to be a supporting act for Coldplay that night, and I was quite surprised to see Mercury Rev, an American psychedelic rock band probably as old as I am, warming up the stage with Jonathan Donahue’s strangely outrageous body antiques and their famous tracks like The Dark is Rising, Goddess on a Hiway and Holes. Not to be biased, but Mercury Rev did sound quite good live compared to their studio tracks. Alas, the sold out crowd of more than 10,000 was restless because they paid good money to see Coldplay. And when Donahue announced it was their last song, the crowd roared with applause, not because they loved the band that much, but because the minutes towards Coldplay were running out.

For the half hour leading up to their appearance, the crowd was teased with songs from all over, shooting nothing straight at the British rock band. There was even a thin black cloth let down on stage covering the entire set. And I was totally caught off guard when Blue Danube started trembling the inside of the stadium. I thought Live Nation had gone bonkers for playing a classical waltz piece, but enjoyed watching the crowd going at the clapping and conducting all the same. Then, as the last fortissimo notes blasted off the air and the lights suddenly went off and the crowd went crazy. I changed my mind; that was a fucking brilliant idea for an introduction.

Being in the industry for about 10 years and with four albums under their sleeves, Coldplay knows how to get the crowd going. They played all of their upbeat songs, leaving the more solemn ones from Parachutes in their grim hometown. They also made sure they hit all the popular tracks so the crowd of more than 10,000 could sing – or scream, more like it – along with them. There were Violet Hill, Clocks, In My Place, The Scientist, Fix You and of course, the song that started them all in the first place – Yellow.

I liked it also that they had spent time with the gimmicks on stage. Before that, all of the concerts I have been to, the backdrops were either bare or merely accompanied by timed LED screens. Coldplay took the time out to even change the backdrops: from the Viva La Vida album cover to the logo, even had a montage of them playing live there and then, and one of Japan during Lovers in Japan.

There were balls of projectors hung from the ceiling, screening mini shots of the big screen on stage. There were even giant yellow balloons let off from the ceiling and the crowd during Yellow, whereby half of it was made out of fans in their mid-30s and mid-40s, suddenly turned into little kids, hands reach up to the sky groping for the balloons. Those of us on the sides could only watch and pout as we could not have a bounce at the balls. Meh.

And I liked it when the confetti rained down on us – or more so, once again, at those in the centre – during Lovers in Japan. It was as if Japan was brought right into the stadium that night, and the confetti was like sakuras falling on us when the spring breeze blew past the garden of Eden. It was a beautiful sight.

I liked it that there was a bunch of crowd interaction going on. There were two runways on each side of the stage, where Chris Martin would often bounce – seriously – himself down to the sides, giving out high fives and waving hello’s.

The entire band squeezed themselves into a corner on the right runway, as they launched into a minoric medley of God Put a Smile Upon Your Face/Talk before Martin took over with his piano solo medley of The Hardest Part and Postcard from Far Away on his trustee sidekick of a piano. Then, before they went on a break, they high fived their way up to the left wing and stood amongst the crowd performing an acoustic version of Speed of Sound and a couple of cover tracks.

And I loved, loved, loved the Mexican phone wave during the break. Before the band ran off for a short break, Chris led us into a little activity, where very much like the Mexican wave, we would use the light on our cell phone screens to do the wave. I tell you, when they dimmed the lights and everyone was doing their part for the wave, it was pretty.

When Coldplay burst into the opening chords of Viva La Vida, it was as if the hefty lawsuit on plagiarism never happened at all. The fans did not care as they sang along to the bridge of wo-oh-oh-oh-ohhh… and very much still even after the concert and the crowd had spilled out of the stadium. And Coldplay certainly did not care; performing the song in front of a very satisfied 10,000+ crowd was like giving Joe Satriani a big fucking middle finger.

Chris Martin may be a crowd-pleaser for his fast  songs, but when he kicked up his tail coat and took charge of his piano for the slower songs, he was a heart wrecker. When he started the eerie opening of Fix You, the crowd went on another bout of screams while I stilled myself and listened to his words: “When you try your best but you don’t succeed / When you get what you want but not what you need / When you feel so tired that you can’t sleep / Stuck in reverse…”

Lovers around me looked at each other with a loving look before embracing and swaying to the song, and friends wrapped arms around one another as they sang along to the chorus of “Lights with guide you home / And ignite your bones / And I will try to fix you” . I was like a solo entity at that moment with goosebumps spreading on  my skin. When the band joined in for a powerful second half, I felt tears dwelling in my eyes as they crooned in unison: “Tears stream down your face / I promise you I will learn from my mistakes…” The organ that derived from a solitary church and the soothing words like a sinner’s peek into the Bible. I have always been one to put my life in the hands of a rock & roll band, and that night, Chris Martin had my entire life – body, heart and soul – in his hands.

The concert may have gone on for a mere two hours, but it felt like forever. Remember in my Jason Mraz concert review I said he was one who was conceived on stage, well, Coldplay is the one giving birth to Mraz. They made the stage. So what their gimmicks were already seen in some other parts of the world. So what their ending song was not that perfect – the confettious Lovers in Japan would have made a perfect finale compared to Life in Technicolor II, which should have just been done at their opening. So what Coldplay is facing plagiarism charges for Viva La Vida.

I am sorry Ben Gibbard. This is Death Cab‘s performance on top spot of my life. This is Coldplay giving a good kick on their behinds and taking over their spot there.

I asked my friend once how was her recent Coldplay concert in Australia and she said: “Do you even have to ask? They were like Gods!” And believe you me, they were.  They were.

PS: And yes, it sucks you could not be there. *laughs in your face*

Sorry, I can’t hear you with all the Mraz going on.

March 6, 2009

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Remembering Damien Rice.

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Event: Jazon Mraz @ concert
Date: March 4, 2009 (Wednesday)
Venue: Stadium Negara, Malaysia

Jason Mraz. Mr A-Z. The curbside prophet. The geek in the pink. The wizard of ooh’s and ah’s and fa-la-la’s. Whatever you may.

I have already expected his concert to not be a disappointment from the reviews I got from friends who have gone to his concert overseas. None of them were let down. One of them was even converted. So, there was no second-thinking when it was announced that he would be performing in Malaysia (finally, someone who cares enough to swing by Malaysia instead of Singapore). Plans were made on who should go with who and which seats should be taken for the best view.

That evening I barely made it in time, no thanks to a certain someone living in Bandar Utama, and a boss who decided it was time to lecture the staff on ‘challenges’ and ‘career’ 15 minutes before I have to leave the office. The KL traffic was kind that day though, and we managed to arrive on the 8PM dote. I even had time to have one cigarette for dinner – a real fully tobacco filled Dunhill Menthol Light cigarette, honest!

The crowd was wild as we made our way to the seats. Practically everyone in the stadium – 9,000 strong – was screaming and cheering at the top of the lungs. As we took our RM168 seats (way up there, one of them ‘elevated’ ones, heh), Jason Mraz greeted the insane audience and launched into a natural opening of Make it Mine. With him was his own brass band, dressed in the Malaysian football team jerseys, which I thought was a cute gesture.

I told myself that I would go see Jason Mraz live, the same reason I would like to see John Mayer and Damien Rice live for their live improvisation of opposite polar ends. However, Jason Mraz is not like the latter two. He did not have much improvisation. In fact, his voice was so flawless he sounded exactly like how he would in his studio albums. Not that it is a bad thing; I love performers who can sing live, and by singing the way it is in the albums he has enabled fans to sing along entirely to radio hit songs like The Remedy, I’m Yours and You and I Both. Fans would have a problem following if he had flowered up his performances. By playing accordingly, he could just set his guitar down, sit at the edge of the stage and watch us performing for him.

Saying he is a charmer is already an understatement, but when he seamlessly launched into Oasis’ Wonderwall medleying with The Remedy, I loved him even more. If you have known me before this, you would know that is my all-time favourite song, and to have him sneak an attack like that, I could not help smiling like a silly fangirl.

Mraz asked the crowd if anyone was here with their best friend that they have been crushing on for a long time. And I remember him asking the same question (though not in the exact same words) in Tonight, Not Again: Live at The Eagles Ballroom before performing his old track No Doubling Back. That night, he played something new, which everyone would have more likely heard of instead – If It Kills Me.

Here on end began his trend of ballads: Life is Wonderful, Live High, and my favourite song off We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, A Beautiful Mess. But, judging from the location I was watching his concert, I could not quite feel the impact of the song I would usually feel listening via headphones. It was as if I was too far back, and no matter how still I sat and how attentively I listened, I could not grasp it well enough. The song did not move me to tears, but it will always be something nice to hear your most loved song live. I guess it just suggests that this is just what happiness is.

Mraz also performed songs that would get even the ones who were conscious of their image to start dancing: The cheeky Geek in the Pink off Mr A-Z, and from his newest album, the wordplaying extraordinaire The Dynamo of Volition – in which he attempted the crowd to do some dorky dance moves of sending 9,000 high-fives his way – and the brass-filled Butterfly.

Now, it would be a self-convicted Mee-Rah-Zee sin if he did not perform Lucky. So, after a quick joint at the back (hey, it could be possible), he emerged with a I heart KL T-shirt and was ready to perform the duet with the Taiwanese-Malaysian singer, Penny Tai.

“Maybe she isn’t real, maybe I made her up and she’s all in my head,” Mraz joked when Penny failed to come up  on stage in time for the first verse. And, Mraz, I wished she has been all in your head as well. Mraz went ahead with the song and had an awesome duet with the crowd, before Penny showed up and ruined the rest of the song, and trust me, I bet everyone in the crowd thought the same thing too because I could feel a heavy ‘wtf’ in the air. There was no chemistry and she seemed to be overdoing her vocals, which was not good in the first place. Throughout the set, I was hoping Colbie Caillat would burst through the back of the stadium and reclaim her duet with Mraz. Sadly that did not happen. Heck, I would have the 9,000 dueting with Mraz, if I could.

Did he put on a great show? Yes, pretty much. There are some musicians who seem to be conceived on stage, and Mraz is one of them. Everyone in the stadium that night was smittened by him. (Well, perhaps not that one guy sitting one row in front of me – he seemed to be sulking throughout the concert, as if Mraz single-handedly stole his concert set that night).

But I bet even Mraz knew he left us hanging when he provided only a one and a half hour’s concert, and clumsily wrapped things up with Butterfly. It was a very upbeat song, and to just finish things off with it, after only one and a half hour, it was like working a man into a very close pre-climax and then say no.

And it was probably not fun either to sit at the back. Yes, the view was not bad up there, but see, I have a problem sitting at concerts. Half of the time I was not sure what I was doing wrong. You wanted to stand up, but you do not know if the guys behind you will tsk at you. You wanted to dance to the song, but moving only your upper body part seems a little retarded. I would love to join the floor crowd, but with my height, it would probably be a worse idea, and I might go home smelling like everyone but myself (circa 2004 Linkin Park in Singapore).

Mraz came and he delivered 100%. He danced, he sang and he stole things – mostly hearts. It was quite an appropriate kind of entertainment you would look for during a midweek madness. It would have been lovelier if he had performed in a more intimate set with a smaller crowd, maybe No Black Tie or Laundry Bar like Colbie Caillat, but I guess it would be a problem when you are so famous with such a strong fanbase. Either way, Malaysia still loves you. Wherever you choose next time, the 9,000 strong will come a-screaming.

* Bah, pictures from a 2.0MP camera phone. I am not getting better with this, am I? Heh.

Playing devil’s advocate with Mogwai.

January 22, 2009

Event: Mogwai concert
Date: January 21, 2009 (Wednesday)
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Malaysia

If music were a religion, and in Heaven exists a God as long as in Hell a Devil lives, and every sinner that dies walk through a Judgment Day before the Higher Beings decide, then it must be true that in this InBetween, it is a concert, a post rock concert. And Mogwai are the messengers of both bad and good news. And this concert is our sendoff.

Everyone were like doomed sinners standing outside the hall, watching our past lives flashing by in front of our eyes. As the doorbitches clasp the white cuffs around mywrist, it was impossible that I could feel any deader than I already am. (Don’t mind me, it has not been a good year thus far).

Even when someone tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Come. Follow me.” I followed aimlessly. Further away from the crowd to where his friends were. When he handed me a joint, I could only stare at it, say my prayers, and take a big suction.

Ah. The wonders of false hope.

The next thing I know, I was standing in the middle of the roaring crowd. Convicted ones swaying haphazardly with their plastic cups of sin, and snapping digital 3×5’s of this last moment in life. And inappropriate angels in green disguises roamed the jittery crowd, offering another sin to add to our list.

I looked up at the stage and there they were – Mogwai. They came with euphoric blue lights, pointing their guitars at us: “Sinners, be afraid. You shall be judged tonight.”

When the lights were soft and colourful, and the music was mellow and tragic in the opening of The Precipice and Scotland’s Shame, it was as if the Devil himself was making an appearance amongst us, brought forth to us by the band. The ghostly and incomprehensible vocals in Hunted by a Freak was like alluring caresses on my cheek and whispers of meaningless hallelujahs. I could only stare at the centre stage with my mouth agap and my mind literally stupefied. My body was too numb from all the sweet nothings to move.

A sense of liberation washed over me when the familiar chords of I Know You Are But What Am I? graced the stage. I could move again. But not on my own demand, but by the strings of the puppetmaster that is the Devil.

Coarsing through my mind were all the sad mistakes I have made in my life, and next to my ear he blew comfort. He said it was all good. What is life without a few joints, a couple of broken rules and promises, a bunch of lies, and a house full of skeletons.

If Hell is as good as it sounds, you said “take my hand and bring me there.”

Suddenly, He came. God. With the screeching lashes of Mogwai Fear Satan and the angered berates of Batcat. Gone were the solemn lights and it came bright white lights that would blind anyone who dared look up. I dared not look up. I could only lower my head and shut my eyes. Like a son cowering from his father’s heartless whips and shouts. He counted my sins and gave each of them an appropriate punishment.

The masterful percussion took over my heartbeat; giving it two pulses sometimes three whenever He likes, or just stopping it altogether just for fun. The screaming guitars tore at my skin and rattled the bones beneath it, as if shaking all the toxic out of me. The vices and lies and skeletons. I  could only shiver along with every beat and thump and shriek. The Devil gave the strings over to God and He was having the time of His life. We were His toys, happy to oblige because of Mogwai’s superiority on us.

Then, it ended. The lights went on irregardless of the crowd’s second bouts of encores. As if God and Devil had decided you know what, we shall give you another chance in living. Go. Be alive again.

As we shuffled out of the hall to have a cigarette out in the breezeless park, we were left with a constant ring in our ears and left with nothing more to say about Mogwai but how awesome they were. We could do nothing more but to laugh automatically at jokes, shake hands and hug people we met for the first time there, kiss our friends for being at the concert with us, and drove home with half a mind, went to bed half a person.

The morning after was awful. It was as if the second life was more of a mockery than a blessing. You feel more like a zombie than a second man. No music could suffice, and you dared not try to find something to fill the empty spaces in fear that the phantom sound left in your memory would just disappear. All you could hear is that persistent ringing in the ear, and your mind going in turbo speed, rambling on about the judgment God and Devil have laid on you the previous night. You have that and everything you thought you have left behind crowding your mind like a fucked up broken record. No food is good enough anymore. No sound is filling enough anymore. Even your cigarettes taste bland and you thought you caught a whiff of the splendour of the grass when you choke on the cigarette smoke.

You do not want to go to work, yet you worry if you are doing well enough at work. You want to stop thinking of the things that hurt you in life, but you cannot: why is it always a ruin to me? Why is my relationship falling apart? Why am I so sad all the time? Why, why, why and million more times why… You just want to hide in the toilet stall, crying tears of release. Please. Take me back to that stand still where the real world is left behind and Mogwai’s sendoff is all I will ever get. You bruise yourself a little in hopes it will go wrong and you can go back to the InBetween.

But you cannot. That was it. And here you are once again, trying to put all the pieces together, but never ever to find them all in one place.

Damn you, Mogwai. Damn the euphoria you brought along with your ascending melodies and reviving bright lights. Now, all I am left is everything without you. Or at least give me the hearing for my left ear back.

* Check out pictures of the concert here.

Spending some time with the Cutie.

August 13, 2008

Event: Death Cab for Cutie concert
Date: August 12, 2008 (Tuesday)
Venue: Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore

It could not have gotten any better with the concert seats we had. Front row seats with the stage merely one step away, with nothing obscuring my lacked of height’s view but the flattened wires and speakers in front of me. And when Ben Gibbard came out and decided to stand at the microphone just right in front of us, we went down on our knees and thanked the good Lord of Indie-hood for our fortune. It was worth every fucking penny we forked out.

The lights dimmed and the crowd went absolutely bonkers. Ben appeared on stage sporting new sideburns with no glasses, followed by Nicholas Harmer and Chris Walla with their guitars, as Jason McGerr slid to his seat at the percussion. Without wasting any time, they dove into the familiar intro of Bixby Canyon Bridge – which I realised some days ago that it sounded like Marching Bands of Manhattan’s – and the entire concert hall just lost it. Fuck the comfy seats, practically the entire crowd was standing with their hands in the air. When Jason came in with his heavy beats that seemed to guide the heartbeats of every fan in the room, I just know my legs would have to fall off first before I stop tapping along to their contagious thumps. From then onwards, Ben Gibbard and company were Gods, and we were their worshippers.

They performed songs from all of their albums. Touching the three older albums, in case there were fans out there who were familiar with their older stuffs. And indeed, there were. Playing the new ones from Narrow Stairs for the new fans hopping on the death cab. Not forgetting Plans, but still biasedly leaning a hell lot to Transatlanticism. This, my friend, is a bittersweet thing for me, but I shall get into it later.

When Ben exchanged his electronic for his acoustic guitar, we knew something good was about to happen. After finishing Soul Meets Body, the lights went an oceanic blue and he introduced the next number to be a “love song”. As if already memorised the Death Cab Bible from back to front, the crowd cheered as Ben went into the opening chords for I Will Follow You Into The Dark.

The fans can sing along all they want, but my attention was all for Ben only then. My eyes could not leave his drenched form, and my ears heeded every single syllable coming out of his lips, words I have heard too often to sing me to sleep. When it came the time for the most brilliant line of lyrics in the song, my eyes started to water: “You and me have seen everything to see / From Bangkok to Calgary / And the soles of your shoes…” If I were to drop dead then, I would have died a happily comforted and loved girl.

Followed close behind was the song that brought Death Cab back on track with Narrow Stairs, I Will Possess Your Heart. Judging from the lengthy opening for the song from the album, one would expect something phenomenon on the brink of happening when they performed live. How one by one, every instrument joined in and slowly built up a memento for Ben’s first verse: “How I wish you could see the potential / The potential of you and me / It’s like a book elegantly bound but / In a language you just can’t read”. Hearing it on the album was like an appetiser. Hearing it live was like a fucking gastronomic main course.

They did a faux exit, just like every band performing live would, after The Sound of Settling. While the fans screamed for an encore, I sat in my seat calling for the Gods of Indie Rock once again to please, please, please, have What Sarah Said on their encore set. Time was already running out, but my favourite song had yet to grace the blessed mouth of Ben Gibbard. Every time he – or Chris – headed towards the keyboard by Jason’s percussion set, my breath would pause only to let go in disappointment when they started off on something else. And this also did not happen often, as they preferred strings to keys. I have gotten so desperate that whenever Ben approached the microphone, I screamed out “Ben, play Sarah!” Alas, he did not even look up or acknowledge my call of despair.

Death Cab For Cutie came back onstage with their oldest number for the night: Your Bruise, from their first studio album, Something About Airplanes. I admit, I have only gotten on the bandwagon completely when I heard Plans, and before that they were merely name drops for me. So, yes, I did feel bored when they hit on tracks I have not heard before like Live Here, Company Calls, Title Track and this. Heck, I even decided to head to the ladies’ when they performed Expo ’86. But, I would have to say, this is probably the better one that night from their older numbers. And that is saying a lot, because I have yet to find a common ground with their old sound just yet.

Then, came Title and Registration, a song I have learned to adore with the lovable line of “The glove compartment is inaccurately named” alongside side the cheeky melody of the song. After No Sunlight, followed Tiny Vessels. As Ben’s heart aching lyrics went “She is beautiful but she doesn’t mean a thing to me” alongside the lonely strums of the guitar, I held my face in my hands like I would cradle my heart. And when the opening of Transatlanticism so gracefully followed suit, I knew Ben would not be telling us who was going to watch him die that night.

But I guess I could not totally hate them just yet, because Transatlanticism was also a favourite of mine. I could be downhearted and disappointed all I want, but the moment Ben sang “The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row / It seems farther then ever before”, my heart melted and I found myself on the brink of tears again. The lights bathed him again in the hues of the Atlantic, the crowd quieted down to listen to the powerful words of “I need you so much closer”. Till this day, it is still a mystery to me how these six simple words could be so gripping just by repeating themselves again and again. Hands raised above heads as eyes closed to dip bodies in the ocean, and the melody built up one last time to a powerful climax, to a powerful finale. I could not find a better ending to a Death Cab concert, if it were not the prolonged buzzing semi breve of this song.

All in all, I cannot say it was the best concert I have been to. (Sorry Ben, but Damien is still holding the top spot). But I would say it was still a nice experience. All concerts I have been were great experiences. None really sucked just yet. But for this, it would have been a better one if they communicated more with the fans, and make the concert more interactive. The only times they ever spoke to the crowd was just to say hey, or ask if we were doing OK. Well, no, Ben, I was not doing OK. You literally brushed me off when I was certain you could hear me loud and clear when I asked for What Sarah Said. Heh. And yes, the concert would have been a couple of notches better if he had somehow fitted Sarah in the list.

But still, it was a mission accomplished for me. Since l heard Plans, I have been wanting to see them live, envious very much of the fans getting to attend their gigs almost every day in the States. Although they decided to stop by Singapore instead of Malaysia, it was still worth it. Like I said in the beginning, try to top my concert seat, because it ain’t getting any better than that.

Note: More pictures will be up soon.