Posts Tagged ‘Fort Canning Park’

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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