Making my second entry of the year, in honour of my favourite band, whom I still can't believe I got to meet, after being such a huge fan for 10 years!
I first saw them at Fort Canning Park in 2008, when they were part of the day lineup for SingFest. They were still relatively new at that time, so the prime night slots were reserved for the likes of Jason Mraz. But I can still clearly remember what happened - from the sweltering weather and already significant crowd ( I couldn't get anywhere near the stage even at that early time ), to Ryan Tedder's perspiration ( poor guy ) and of course, THAT VOICE. Belting recent hits like Stop And Stare and Apologize, I recall shaking my head in pure wonder at the sheer power of his performance. Even in the unrelenting heat, his voice soared to the heavens and gave me chills!
It took another 9 years before I saw them again at the F1 race in 2017. Somehow, I missed their 2013 show at Sentosa's Coliseum ( maybe I was overseas? ). Strangely enough, none of my friends is a 1R fan ( you don't know what you're missing! ), but that didn't stop me from flying solo. And it was mind-blowing! Crammed within a horde of 50,000-plus screaming, jumping fans, it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life, and everyone was so well-behaved that I made it through fully intact. OneRepublic was magnificent, but I would like to express my gratitude to them and the organizers for making the whole event possible, for yanking me out of my comfort zone so I could be part of this incredible experience.
Although I didn't watch them live for 9 years, I followed their career closely, purchasing their albums, subscribing to their social media account and watching their beautiful music videos. The F1 gig was such a treat, as they covered hits from the entire past decade, whipping the audience into a frenzy. What I love most are the melodies ( since I'm really bad at memorizing lyrics ), which possess a haunting quality and stick in your head forever. And their anthems! Singing along with 50,000 fans is something I will never forget!
It's highly unusual for the band to return to Singapore after just 7 months without a new album, but they did exactly that, and the response was spectacular. The Star Theatre was packed to the rafters, and nobody sat down for 90 minutes. While the set list was quite similar to the one they did for F1, the venue was much smaller, more intimate, and thankfully, air-conditioned. And this made all the difference in Ryan's performance. He was amazing at F1, but not being dehydrated definitely augmented his energy level, and he was ON FIRE that night! From the first song to the final encore, his voice never flagged, and he was all over the stage. At one point, he even decided to hop over the barricade and mingle with the audience, though he couldn't get beyond the first few rows as fans went running over and he ended up getting mobbed. It looked 100% unplanned, since security was nowhere to be seen. But thanks for trying anyway, Ryan, we appreciate the thought. :)
As for the photo, a million thanks to Live Nation Singapore, who picked 5 entries from about a hundred for a meet and greet contest, and I honestly never imagined that mine would be selected. All I can say is, the judge(s) is/are extremely perceptive!
The M&G was tightly regulated, so our time with the band was short. No hugs, autographs or chatting were allowed, but in spite of this, the 1R guys were really friendly, and blessed us with a beautifully posed picture. We couldn't see the band from the holding area where we were asked to wait, so everything happened super quickly. When it was my turn, I walked over, smiled, waved and said hello, then scanned their faces to figure out where Ryan was standing so I could position myself in front of him. As the photographer started focusing, I felt someone's hand gently rest on my right shoulder, and turns out it was Ryan's! Before we left, he said, "Thank you for coming, enjoy the show." then put his hands together in the "namaste" position. I recall having to tilt my head up 'cos he's so tall, and he looks better up close in person - definitely younger compared to the photos and videos.
There were 4 other fans behind us so I didn't want to ruin anything by flouting the rules. But if I'd been last, I might've tried shaking Ryan's hand, or requesting a hug if he seemed up for it. Having met other famous people previously, rules aren't always strictly followed, and ultimately it all depends on the celebrity. But at least I got to pass him a gift and a fan letter. The gift is food-related, since it's been mentioned that he loves to cook, co-owns a restaurant franchise with Justin Timberlake, and loves Singaporean cuisine. Hope he gets to try some of the stuff I gave him. :)
Aside from 1R, I also had contact with another famous rocker earlier this month - Danny O'Donoghue from Irish band, The Script. He spent a considerable amount of time among the audience during their Indoor Stadium show, and touched my hand as he passed me. Woohoo! :)
So as the month of April comes to a close, I prepare to begin a new chapter in my life, with a new job and new colleagues. The past 3 months have been a godsend, allowing me to rest, do what I love, reconnect with people who matter to me, and fully enjoy experiences like attending concerts.
My mum's in her 70s but I took her to see OneRepublic because I wanted to share the evening with her. FYI, she was also with me at SingFest 10 years ago, so this isn't her first time seeing the band. She's been instrumental in shaping my love for music, taking me to shows when I was a child then a teenager, watching a wide selection of artists from Barry Manilow and Cliff Richard, to Sarah Brightman, Take That, Robbie Williams, Michael Bolton and even the late Michael Jackson. She's one of the coolest people I know!
If you're not a fan of concerts of any kind, you don't know what you're missing. They're nothing like listening to music on the radio or on your MP3 player. Concerts are communal events, where you connect with fellow fans and often with the artists themselves. And the feeling is palpable, both when I'm at the Esplanade Concert Hall being moved by the SSO Pops playing John Williams, and at the Padang singing my guts out with Maroon 5 and OneRepublic. I live for such moments!
Not sure when I'll be able to make my next entry, but in closing, here's a recommendation: watch The Alienist. It's on Netflix, it's R21, based on Caleb Carr's novel about a serial killer hunting boy prostitutes in 19th century New York, and stars Daniel Bruhl and Luke Evans. It's awesome. :)