Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coldplay - Live In Singapore Concert Review

Who: Coldplay
What: The Viva La Vida Tour
When: 23 March 2009
Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium

1. Life In Technicolor
2. Violet Hill
3. Clocks
4. In My Place
5. Yellow
6. Glass Of Water
7. Cemeteries Of London
8. 42
9. Fix You
10. Strawberry Swing

Stripped Set:
11. God Put A Smile On Your Face
12. Talk (Dance Version)
13. The Hardest Part (Chris Martin solo on piano)
14. Postcards From Far Away

15. Viva La Vida
16. Lost!

Acoustic Set:
17. Speed Of Sound
18. Death Will Never Conquer (Will Champion on vocals)
19. I'm A Believer (Monkees cover)

Interlude/Mexican phone wave/Viva La Vida (Thin White Duke Remix)

20. Politik
21. Lovers In Japan
22. Death And All His Friends

23. The Scientist
24. Life In Technicolor ii
25. The Escapist (outro)

So, the biggest concert of the year so far, where 10,000 fans crammed into the Indoor Stadium on Monday and were treated to an awesome show. This is the third time they've been here and they seem to get more and more love with each visit.

The band have had an amazing year since the release of their fourth studio album, which not surprisingly, was the biggest-selling album for the WORLD in 2008, with 6.8 million copies sold (and counting). They also scooped up 3 Grammys last month, where it can be argued they were robbed of the Record Of The Year award, losing out to Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Please Read The Letter.

Their Viva La Vida Tour has been selling out stadiums all over the world, and Singapore was no exception. All 10,000 tickets were sold out in less than 5 days. Recession? What recession?

If you thought they were good in 2006, think again. This is Coldplay at their most assured and confident. They have honed their skills both musically as well as showmanship wise. 

Their music is more mature and textured but still capable of rousing audiences to their feet and singing along. Chris and co have enough confidence to strut down the catwalk and mingle in the crowd and even do the cliche "wave your lighters in the air" move, except that it's handphones now instead.

Amazingly, they performed almost all the songs on their latest album (9 out of 10, with the exception of Yes), plus a couple of new tracks on the Prospekt's March EP - Glass Of Water and Life In Technicolor ii. Not many artists dare to perform that many songs from their latest album, even though the tour is in support of that album. This is surely a testament to the strength of the album.

However, they also managed to squeeze in all the favourites, like In My Place, Fix You, The Scientist, Yellow and Clocks. My only grouse is that they didn't perform Trouble and Don't Panic. But it was still an excellent setlist so not much complains there.

The highlight of the concert has got to be Viva La Vida. When the (pre-recorded) strings came on, the crowd just erupted and threw their hands in the air. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was singing along to the chant part and it continued even after the song ended. And the chant came on spontaneously after the end of the concert as well. It's such a powerful and uplifting song and in my opinion, it should have won the Record Of The Year award.

The concert was well-produced, with great lights and gimmicks like the yellow ballons during Yellow (a stunt albeit recycled from their previous tour), the butterfly-shaped confetti that rained down during Lovers In Japan, and the fancy orbs hanging from the ceiling, that doubled up as screens.

But most of all, the band sounded really good. Too often, the Indoor Stadium has been accused of having terrible acoustics and making good bands sound bad. But the truth is that you need a good sound mixer and equipment and you can still sound good in there. But perhaps it's also a little due to the fact that Coldplay aren't that heavy to begin with. But I was still very impressed with how good they sounded.

It was a concert to remember. Even after 2 days, I'm still thinking about the concert, and so are loads of other people. The press reviews are excellent, and all the DJs are raving about it on air too. It's quite safely the Concert Of The Year for me. Sorry Jason Mraz, I really enjoyed your concert as well but Coldplay just winged it.

Let's hope their next album will be as good. They have been 4/4 so far - all their albums have been hits. It's not going to be easy, but I sure hope they remain grounded and concentrate on the music. And the fans will naturally come.

For now, let us just be content with chanting along to Viva La Vida...oh oh oh oh oh......oh oh oh oh oh.....

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Friday, March 20, 2009

MJ - O2 - Gone Too Soon for MJ's concerts went on sale and were Gone Too Soon, before I could lay my hands on them. An initially-announced 10 shows ballooned to 20 shows and then kept increasing until it eventually reached 50 shows, beating the previous record for most nights sold out at the 02 Arena by more than double - Prince's record of 21 shows. Nothing beats the feeling of breaking the record of an old foe...

Not that I didn't try to buy tickets. I registered for the pre-sale code the minute the press conference ended at 1:35am on March 6, and I knew then that demand was going to be high, as the registration page experienced problems and couldn't process my registration. But I did eventually get an email with the pre-sale code after all those apparently failed attempts.

So once the pre-sale started on March 11, I tried to buy tickets using the unique code, but the Ticketmaster website was overwhelmed with thousands of fans logging in at the same time, and I didn't get to book the tickets then. By the time I checked again at night, they were all sold out.

And AEG Live kept adding shows throughout the day, but I couldn't possibly be sitting at my computer monitoring minute by minute, so as soon as the new shows were announced, all the pre-sale tickets got snapped up too. So all the tickets allocated to pre-sale for the 50 shows sold out in a matter of hours. 

Then came the public sale on March 13. I coordinated with my friend who's currently working in the UK to log on at precisely 7am UK time (1pm Singapore time), and same problem - the website put us on hold for more than 15 minutes but at the end of that, they couldn't process our request. So even my friend in the UK couldn't get them online, not like it's because there's an Internet lag or something! He then had to go off for work so I didn't bother him anymore.

So...long story cut short, I didn't manage to get tickets. There's lot of tickets up for sale on those re-sale websites, but I refuse to buy them at grossly inflated prices. So I guess it will be a miss for me this time. There's talk that the tour will be extended to the rest of Europe and Asia before heading to America, so there's still hope.

Anyway, the setlist for the show has apparently been leaked, and here it is, according to those sources:

Reported Setlist

1. Billie Jean
2. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
3. Rock With You
4. The Way You Make Me Feel
5. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
6. I Just Can't Stop Loving You
7. Human Nature
8. Smooth Criminal
9. Girlfriend
10. Man In The Mirror
11. Beat It
12. One Day In Your Life
13. Heal The World
14. You Are Not Alone
15. Remember The Time 
16. Thriller
Looking at the "setlist", there are a few surprises there, like Girlfriend and One Day In Your Life. Remember The Time was rehearsed for the Dangerous tour but wasn't performed eventually. The rest are all pretty much standard hits that you'd expect him to play. I think the biggest omission here is Black Or White

There are simply too many MJ songs that are worth performing and I think the most we can fit in is 20 songs, and some of them might be squeezed into medleys or cut short. So here's my ideal setlist of 20 songs that will never ever come true...

My Ideal Setlist

1. Why You Wanna Trip On Me
2. Scream
3. Dirty Diana
4. Dangerous
5. Smooth Criminal
6. The Way You Make Me Feel
7. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
8. Dancin' Machine
9. Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)
10. Rock With You
11. Never Can Say Goodbye
12. She's Out Of My Life
13. Even Though You're Gone
14. Butterflies
15. Remember The Time
16. Will You Be There
17. Billie Jean
18. Beat It
19. Black Or White
20. Man In The Mirror

Would be great if he can sing them all live. I know he lip sync-ed a lot of songs on the HIStory tour, but after watching the 30th Anniversary performances in 2001 again recently, he can still sing live and sound pretty good. The only question is whether he has the stamina to sing and dance at the same time for the entire show. He's already 50 years old, and that's not young, even for the King Of Pop.

Come July 8, we shall see what tricks MJ has planned for us, and whether he will indeed be unveiling a new dance move as some reports claim. We shall see...

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Friday, March 06, 2009

This Is It

Michael Jackson has just announced that he will be performing live in London this July at the O2 Arena, and it will be his final curtain call in London. Hence, This Is It.

He is expected to play 10 shows, starting from 8 July. Ticket prices and exact dates are not known yet, as well as whether it will be extended beyond the 10 shows. And it's also unclear whether the "final curtain call" refers to London only, or to the rest of the world too.

In any case, I'm going. To London. To O2. To watch Michael Jackson. Again. This Is It.

The press con was supposed to start at 12mn Singapore time but didn't happen till 1:30am. And MJ appeared onstage for less than 4 minutes. Typical, haha.

Ok, I'll be checking out the flight prices and and doing some quick planning because the concert tickets will be going on sale next Friday, 13 March. Must move fast!

Welcome back, Michael!

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