Monday, April 27, 2009

Rarities #36: No Doubt - Hits From Orange County Box Set (1997)

This is a mega rare No Doubt box set and I believe it was only issued in Singapore and perhaps Korea. It's a 3CD+VCD set containing some very fine live and acoustic tracks.

Of course, the VCD remains solely an Asian phenomenon and many countries outside of Asia have never heard of the format VCD. For the uninitiated, VCD stands for Video Compact Disc, which is the transitional format between VHS/LaserDiscs and DVD. It's VHS quality video on a compact disc, so the audio and video quality isn't that great.

The VCD contains four music videos and I actually really like the Sunday Morning video. It shows the band in a food fight and I love their innocence back then. In fact, Sunday Morning is my favourite No Doubt song, because it's so fun to play and sing to. I think the drumming on the track is superb.

No Doubt are going on tour this summer and they will reconvene in the studio after that to record their long-overdue album. Their last album, Rock Steady, was released 8 years ago. During that time, Gwen went solo and released two albums, and also tied the knot with Gavin Rossdale from Bush and gave birth to two boys.

While I quite liked Love.Angel.Music.Baby., I didn't really dig The Sweet Escape that much, so I'm glad that they're back together again. I really hope their next album will be great and tour Singapore again. That gig remains my favourite concert of all time. And I have seen quite a few concerts, so that really means something.

Bring it on, No Doubt!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kaiser Chiefs - Live In Singapore Concert Review

Who: Kaiser Chiefs
What: Off With Their Heads Tour
When: 7 April 2009, 8pm
Where: Fort Canning Park

1. Spanish Metal
2. Everyday I Love You Less And Less
3. Everything Is Average Nowadays
4. You Want History
5. Ruby
6. Good Days Bad Days
7. Na Na Na Na Naa
8. Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)
9. Like It Too Much
10. Modern Way
11. Never Miss A Beat
12. I Predict A Riot
13. Take My Temperature
14. The Angry Mob

15. Can't Say What I Mean
16. Oh My God

Following the release of their third studio album Off With Their Heads last year, the Kaiser Chiefs have acquired a large enough fanbase and repertoire of radio hits to warrant a full-length concert in Singapore. They set foot here for the first time on Tuesday night and put on a rocking show at Fort Canning Park. 

The turnout was quite impressive - 5,000 people sprawled the lawns of Fort Canning that night. Not surprisingly, a large number of the audience consisted of expats. This was similarly observed at the recent Coldplay and Oasis concerts as well, and this is probably the reason why most of the concerts are still selling well despite the economic crisis.

The earlier afternoon showers ensured that no one went home with their soles unsoiled, but that did not stop people from laying out mats and sitting on the grass before the show commenced.

Local band Electrico took to the stage at 8pm and opened the show with a 45-minute set consisting of songs from their latest album We Satellites and second album Hip City. Being one of the more prominent and successful local bands in recent years, they showed off their class and experience with a tight and strong set.

However, frontman Dave Tan was under no delusions who the audience were really baying for, and he gamely joked: "I know you're all here to catch the Kaiser Chiefs, but can you help make us feel like rock stars for one moment?" The crowd obliged and gave them a warm response.

The Kaiser Chiefs finally emerged at 9:35pm to rapturous applause, and they quickly launched into the opening song of their latest album, Spanish Metal. They followed with a pair of upbeat songs, Everyday I Love You Less And Less and Everything Is Average Nowadays. What's with the long song titles?

Kaiser Chiefs' songs are insanely catchy and they translated well when performed live. Most of the songs had sing-a-long choruses or refrains like "Na Na Na Na Naa", and it was easy for the audience to join in. I ended up losing my voice a little for the rest of the night because I was singing so hard. 

The best thing was that you didn't really need to know the lyrics to the songs, since most of them had repetitive lines for the chorus anyway, e.g. on Oh My God, I Predict A Riot and Never Miss A Beat. So it was great in that sense.

Frontman Ricky Wilson was brimming with energy and he engaged in a lot of mic-swirling, tambourine-tossing and foot-stomping. When the band launched into one of their biggest hits I Predict A Riot, he got inspired and scaled the side stage scaffolding, climbing up to 10 metres above ground level and singing the chorus. The security guys must have been sweating at that point.

Unfortunately, as hard as Wilson tried, he couldn't really incite a riot among the crowd. With the exception of the hard core fans at the front of the stage, most of the audience behind were content with bobbing along and showering polite applause. Only during a few songs did they really come alive and put their hands in the air.

Musically wise, they performed most of the songs similar to the album versions. My favourite song for the night was Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning). Even thought they're known for their catchy and upbeat songs, the songs I like most are the slower ones like Competition and Modern Way, both of which they performed really well.

The final song for the night, Oh My God, was an extended, 10-minute joint that nicely summed up the musical journey of the Kaiser Chiefs so far - "Oh my god I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home".

The Kaiser Chiefs may no longer be the boys they were when they first burst onto the scene in 2005, but they still retain the same enthusiasm and energy, even when they're thousands of miles away from home, in a humid and strange little island called Singapore.

Closing thoughts, I felt that it was a very fun concert, largely because the songs by themselves are so darn catchy and lend themselves easily to audience participation. I definitely enjoyed it, but it would have been even better had the crowd shared the band's enthusiasm. 

Monday, April 06, 2009

Oasis - Live In Singapore Concert Review

Who: Oasis
What: Dig Out Your Soul Tour
When: 5 April 2009, 8pm
Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium

1. Rock 'N' Roll Star
2. Lyla
3. The Shock Of The Lightning
4. Cigarettes & Alcohol
5. The Meaning Of Soul
6. To Be Where There's Life
7. Waiting For The Rapture
8. The Masterplan
9. Songbird
10. Slide Away
11. Morning Glory
12. Ain't Got Nothin'
13. The Importance Of Being Idle
14. I'm Outta Time
15. Wonderwall
16. Supersonic

17. Don't Look Back In Anger (acoustic)
18. Falling Down
19. Champagne Supernova
20. I Am The Walrus (The Beatles cover)

Oasis returned to Singapore once again, performing in front of a 9,000 capacity audience at the Indoor Stadium. The last time they were here was slightly more than 3 years ago (23 Feb 2006). In fact, the gap between visits for Coldplay is shorter than that for Oasis (Coldplay's last concert was on 10 July 2006). 

Nevertheless, despite the considerably short time gap, both bands still sold well - for Coldplay, about 11,000 tickets were sold out after only 5 days. While Oasis didn't sell out, they still managed to fill up the floor, with about 15% of the seats on the stands empty.

Having both concerts take place within 2 weeks of each other, it is tempting to compare them. After all, both bands hail from the UK, ALL their studio albums have hit #1, they have at various times been called "the biggest band in the world", and they can still command large audiences during economic downturns. And I have also watched both bands previously, 3 years ago. 

However, the Coldplay and Oasis concerts couldn't be more different. For Coldplay, the 2nd show was way better than the first (even though I remember the 2006 concert being solid as well, so that's saying something), whereas I felt that Oasis didn't bring anything new for their second time coming.

Not in the literal sense, as Oasis performed 6 songs from their latest album, Dig Out Your Soul, which is a fair proportion of the setlist. But more of the fact that it was Oasis as we have seen before - the same nonchalant stage presence, the same basic stage setup and lights, the same song arrangements - basically it felt like the same show, albeit with a slightly different setlist.

I was reading through my 2006 review and I realised that my comments for this concert is exactly the same as for that one. The highlight of the concert is still Noel singing The Importance Of Being Idle and Don't Look Back In Anger. Liam was still clapping at the end of songs. The only difference is that he looked much older and uglier this time, with a horrible buzz cut and sideburns, not to mention the trench coat.

Perhaps it was due to where I was seated (right upstairs because mine was the cheapest ticket)that the sound wasn't that great. It was quite muddy and definitely wasn't as good as Coldplay.

The Gallagher brothers have already said that they don't rely on gimmicks like sprinting up and down, doing big stage actions or thrashing guitars to spice up the show, but a little bit more interaction and swagger would be good. 

I think we've all been spoilt by Coldplay, who did 2 sets away from the main stage, among the audience. I know Oasis are Oasis, this is how they are and they don't give a damn about giving in to what people want. But people pay good money to be entertained, and I think they should put in a tad more effort to satisfy the audience just a little bit more.

Musically wise, the songs sound pretty much the same as the album versions. The best improvement was of course the acoustic version of Don't Look Back In Anger, which allowed Noel's voice to shine through, and for the whole stadium to sing along together while Noel took a break. It was damn cool to sing along with 9,000 other people. It's an anthem.

The new songs didn't really do it for me. I mean some of them were nice but they didn't make me appreciate them even more and make me want to revisit them. So it was down to the oldies to save the day.

As usual, they didn't do anything from the Be Here Now album, and only one track from Heathen Chemistry made it (Songbird). And they did without Some Might Say and Roll With It once more, but the biggest travesty has to be the omission of Live Forever. I thought they would close with that song.

Closing thoughts, I think I would have enjoyed the concert more if it was my first time watching them. They put on a decent show, nothing more. They went through the motions and did their thing the way they always did. 15 years since the release of their debut album, they have become veterans at the game, but sometimes a little reinvention is good - to win over new fans and retain old fans.

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rarities #35: Michael Jackson - Dangerous Tour Souvenir Cassette Album (1993)

This album was released in conjunction with the Dangerous Tour in 1993. At that time, I was just beginning to be an MJ fan and I was still a student, so I didn't have the foresight or money to buy the CD album. So I ended up with the cassette tape only, and I have been looking for the CD version ever since, to no avail. If you have a CD version, please contact me!!!

Besides this single disc/cassette album, there were also limited edition CD Singles box sets released at the same time - I have one 5CD Japan version and a 4CD Europe version, which I'll feature later. And looking at the label copy for this cassette version, it was released in Malaysia in 1993, whereas the box sets were released in 1992. 

So I'm thinking Malaysia compiled the tracks for a special single-CD release for their market instead of a box set, to tie in with the Dangerous Tour visiting Southeast Asia. Perhaps that'swhy this album is so rare, cos it was only issued in Malaysia (and somehow some copies found their way to Singapore).

Anyway, I really like the album cover. Totally cool and captures the excitement of the Dangerous Tour. Real pity I didn't catch it in 1993. Argh...

The album contains 14 tracks, and it's something of a Best Of. All the hits are here, right from the Off The Wall album to the Dangerous material. Some of the tracks are remixes - Rock With You (Masters At Work Remix), Beat It (Moby's Sub Mix), Smooth Criminal ("Annie" Mix) and Black Or White (The Civiles & Cole Radio Mix).

I normally don't like remixes but the ones here are pretty good. And yes, the Beat It remix is done by the same Moby who gave us the Play album. He was grinding out remixes before embarking on a solo career.

A "bonus" track here is Come Together, the Beatles cover, which was taken from the film Moonwalker and never-before released commercially. So when MJ included Come Together on disc 2 of the HIStory album, i cried foul because it was not a new track. It was recorded in 1988 and he conveniently dumped it in, depriving us of one additional track from HIStory.

I don't have a cassette tape player anymore, so I can't listen to this tape now. But I'll continue to keep it and perhaps, there might be a day when cassette tapes make a comeback, like how vinyl is now experiencing a comeback! I got a few other cassette tapes too, and I might feature them here one day.

Do you have any cassette tapes left?

Labels: ,