(Re)Energising the power station

14 12 2019

Held on 7 Dec 2019, the debut of The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions brought great fun and energy to one of Singapore’s best kept secrets, the former Pasir Panjang ‘A’ Power Station. Singapore’s latest music festival has shown the potential of the unused spaces – of which there is a wealth is – in playing host to large scale events. Featuring a global and local cast of female fronted acts, the festival also had the essential distractions such as food, drink and art – a female themed bar and even a place to do one’s hair.

Cate le Bon on one of the Alex Blake Charlie Session’s three stages.

 

Chill-out spaces during the Alex Blake Charlie Sessions.

Among the star global acts was the fresh-faced Welsh-Australian artist Stella Donnelly. The fast rising indy star and a voice for change is a breath of fresh air and a joy to hear from. We were able to learn about her fashion choice of second-hand clothes, and about some of the more unusual stages she has performed on – which includes the back of a moving truck.

Stella Donnelly at the former power station.

The former power station – Singapore’s second public power plant built in the 1950s and decommissioned in the 1980s, was recently the subject of a competition to find ideas for its interim use prior to the detailed planning for the Greater Southern Waterfront being carried out. Since 2017, it has attracted attention as a location for filming, music-videos and also for advertisements. It would certainly be nice to see more events on the scale of the music festival to bring the best out in the space.

The disused power station during the Alex Blake Charlie Sessions.

 

SOAK.

 

Another of SOAK at the Nest.

 

The Nest.

Dream Wife on “A” Stage.

Vendetta.

Vendetta.

Cate Le Bon.

Vendetta at the Nest.

 

Stella Donnelly.

Stella Donnelly.

 

Stella Donnelly.

 

Cate Le Bon.

A Whiskey Bar.

 

]





Powering Pasir Panjang with the raw power of music via The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions

22 11 2019

It is wonderful that the former Pasir Panjang ‘A’ Power Station, with its voluminous turbine and boiler halls that offer immense possibilities, is getting the attention it deserves.  Come 7 December, the wonderful building will turn into what promises to be a magical music venue – when the space’s very first big music event and Singapore’s newest music festival, The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions, makes its debut.

35358854726_0e30afa290_z

Pasir Panjang ‘A’ Power Station.

Promising a feast of music across genres such as pop rock, R&B, indie, folk and electronica, the all-day event will see a line of of both international and Singapore artists with a strong female focus.

1-The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions-KV-Full Line-up with Photos-Portrait.jpg

Among the international acts are Perth based indie pop/folk singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly and SOAK, an indie folk/dream pop singer-songwriter from Derry, Northern Ireland. Donnelly was recently nominated in the category of Breakout Artist at the 2019 ARIA Music Awards, Australia’s most prestigious music awards and came in at no 6 in Happy Mag’s list of “The 15 Australian female artists changing the game right now”.

Stella Donnelly-2-Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Stella Donnelly (Photo by Pooneh Ghana)

The local line-up includes Vendetta, electrco-soul R&B artist and Ginette Chittick, a multi-disciplinary artist, professional DJ and bassist.

Ginette Chittick-2

Ginette Chittick.

The event, which also brings shopping, food and art to the space, is being brought to the station by 24OWLS – a collective whose people were behind the last five editions of the Laneway Festival in Singapore.


Event details:

Date: 7 December 2019, Saturday

Time: 10am till Late

Venue: Pasir Panjang Power Station, 27 Pasir Panjang Road

More information can be found at :  www.alexblakecharlie.sg

Ticketing:

Tickets now start from S$500 for a Bundle of 3 Tickets and S$180 each for Phase C Tickets.

On sale via:


 

 





In a beautiful mess of her own creation

1 06 2013

One of the things I was able to do during the recent Indie music festival, Music Matters Live with HP 2013, was to catch a few of the local acts. One act which came at the recommendation of a friend, was that of singer/songwriter Natalie Hiong, who I also had a chance to have a short chat with after her performance on the final evening of the three day festival.

Natalie Hiong

Natalie Hiong

Blessed with great looks and a great voice, there is probably nothing about Natalie not to like. I did find her music very likeable as well. Simple, bright and cheerful, her melodies and lyrics are easy to listen to and I enjoyed every bit of her brief appearance at Beer Market during which she performed songs which featured in her second EP, Beautiful Mess.

Natalie and her band at the Beer Market during MML 2013.

Natalie and her band at the Beer Market during MML 2013.

It is in the title track of the five track EP where Natalie speaks of the beautiful mess of her “own creation, awash with colours of fear and excitement”, which she does find herself in. It is a mess she got herself into a little more than two years back, quitting a two year investment banking job in London she found herself bored in, admitting that she would have quit earlier if the bonuses paid at the end of the first year had been better.

A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), Natalie does admit to being something of an academic high-flyer – which does make it a lot more unlikely for her to take the path she has. Trained in classical music, it was her involvement writing music for a student produced musical, “Excess Baggage”, in her second year in LSE in 2007 which provided her with the yearning to pursue a career in music – again admitting to wanting very much to quit her studies there and then to allow her to do just that.

In her beautiful mess.

In her beautiful mess.

With two EPs under her belt, Natalie is now working towards her goal of recording a full album – which she hopes to complete next year. It is also her dream to get into the musical scene, having had acquired a taste for it with Excess Baggage, as well as in her writing the lyrics for the recently concluded magic themed musical Incanto which played at Resorts World Sentosa. I did also have the chance to ask Natalie if her parents were supportive of the choices she has made. “They are”, Natalie says, “they always knew I was going to go into music, it was only a question of when”.


More of Natalie:






Watching the stars under the stars

29 05 2013

The last place in Singapore to soak in the atmosphere of the festivities which accompany a religious festival in a setting most of us may not seen for a quarter of a century is Pulau Ubin, the last island off Singapore (save for Sentosa) which has a community of residents. It is in the remnants of a village close to the island’s jetty where a Chinese Taoist temple, the Tua Pek Kong temple (Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple or 乌敏岛佛山亭大伯公庙) dedicated to the Earth Deity 土地公 (Tu Di Gong in Mandarin) who is also commonly referred to in Singapore as 大伯公 – Tua Pek Kong in Hokkien or Da Bo Gong in Mandarin, is found. It setting is very much one that is reminiscent of many of the rural Chinese villages which were common on the main island of Singapore up until the 1980s, with a village temple at its centre with a permanent Chinese Opera (referred to locally as “wayang”) stage often located across a clearing from it.

Devotees offering candles at the Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple. The temples celebrates two festivals in a big way.

Devotees offering candles at the Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple. The temples celebrates two festivals in a big way.

Colours painted by the setting sun - setting the tone for a colourful night of entertainment under the stars.

Colours painted by the setting sun – setting the tone for a colourful night of entertainment under the stars.

The temple plays host twice a year to a series of festivities which are held to commemorate two important Chinese festivals which the temple celebrates in a big way. The bigger of the two is the Tua Pek Kong festival, celebrated to commemorate the birthday of the Earth Deity around the 15th day of the 4th Chinese month, while the Hungry Ghost festival which is celebrated with an auction around the 15th day of the 7th month, is a relatively quieter affair.

An image of the Earth Deity, Tua Pek King at the main altar of the Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple.

An image of the Earth Deity, Tua Pek King at the main altar of the Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple.

It is during both the festivals that the wayang stage sees use. Wayangs in the form of Teochew opera performed by the island’s Teochew Opera Troupe  (which I photographed at last year’s Hungry Ghosts Festival – click on this link for the post) based at the temple, are staged for the entertainment of the temple’s devotees (also for the visiting spirits in the case of the Hungry Ghost Festival)  providing a wonderful opportunity for Singaporean’s to revisit an almost forgotten tradition. In keeping up with the times, the stage also plays host to what perhaps is the new-age wayang – the getai (歌台), a somewhat kitsch (some even consider it crude) form of entertainment which by and large have replaced the wayangs of old during similar celebrations around Singapore.

A brightly dressed dancer on stage - getai is often seen as kitsch and somewhat crude, but it does have a huge following in Singapore.

A brightly dressed dancer on stage – getai is often seen as kitsch and somewhat crude, but it does have a huge following in Singapore.

I had the opportunity to see the new wayang in action in the old village like setting provided by Pulau Ubin’s stage last evening. The getai was held on the last evening of the series of festivities held over six days from 23 to 28 May this year and saw a huge turnout  – boats worked like clockwork ferrying a steady stream of visitors to the temple and the festivities – which certainly made the atmosphere very festival like. Under the stars in in the comfort of the cool breeze, the audience had the seats provided already filled as the stage came alive with lights and action matched by the brilliant colours provided by the of rays of the setting sun.

The large crowd seated in front of the stage.

The large crowd seated in front of the stage.

While I would not be one to admit to being a fan of getai, I will admit that the experience of watching the gaudily dressed stars of the song stage, entertain with song many which were could well be tunes of yesteryear, as well as converse and joke in Hokkien on a stage under the stars, was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was particularly heartening to see the large crowd – many who broke out into smiles and laughter as the evening entertainment progressed, enjoy themselves. The atmosphere was such that it did also seem to free both young and old from the distractions we have to much of in the modern world (I must have been the only one not taking a photograph or a video clip with a mobile device who was seen to be fiddling with my mobile phone).

Marcus Chin (陈建彬) on stage.

Marcus Chin (陈建彬) on stage.

Members of the audience had their eyes glued to the stage throughout most of the evening.

Members of the audience had their eyes glued to the stage throughout most of the evening.

The getai show which was hosted by Xu Qiong Fang (浒琼芳) and Wang Lei (王雷) saw a string of getai stars appear on stage. Not having admitted to being a fan, there is also no need for me to pretend to know who I was being entertained by. I did however recognise one of the stars from a previous experience watching getai under the Flyer. That was veteran entertainer Marcus Chin (陈建彬). I was able to identify the Babes in the City (宝贝姐妹) pairing, only through a comment left on my instagram post  by filmaker Royston Tan (the pair featured in a video he produced, “The Happy Dragon“, to promote Safe Sex) .

Babes in the City (宝贝姐妹).

Babes in the City (宝贝姐妹).

Host Wang Lei (王雷) also entertained - standing next to him is Lee Bao En (李宝恩 ), a young getai star from Johor.

Host Wang Lei (王雷) also sang – standing next to him is Lee Bao En (李宝恩), a young getai star from Johor.

A relatively more recently introduced  form of festival entertainment, the getai does in fact have a long enough tradition, having gained in popularity during the 1970s as interest in the traditional forms of entertainment such as the Chinese Opera and Puppet Shows was waning. On the evidence of the turnout, it does seem that, love it or hate it, it does have a following and being more adaptable than the more traditional street theatre, it certainly is here to stay.  It was nice to be out under the stars in a setting one can otherwise no longer find. It felt as if it was yesterday … almost. It would have been nice to see just one thing more – the mobile food vendors (particularly the bird’s nest drink and the steamed sweet corn seller) who never were very far away whenever the wayang came to town.

The view backstage.

The view backstage.

A view through a window of the permanent wayang stage.

A view through a window of the permanent wayang stage.

More photographs of the stage and audience:

277A1856

277A1889

277A1896

IMG_3187

IMG_3220

IMG_3239

IMG_3244





I (certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

27 05 2013

What is probably one of the biggest rock acts to perform in Singapore is Aerosmith, the legendary rock band said to be “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, took to the stage on Saturday in the second of two Singapore Social Concerts. The concerts held as part of the inaugural Social Star Awards, the first of which featured social media stars such as Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, CeeLo Green and Blush, took place at what is proving to be a wonderful outdoor concert venue, The Meadow at the Gardens by the Bay.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on stage at The Meadow.

The Aerosmith concert was without a doubt the highlight of what was a great week to be a music fan in Singapore, following hot on the heels of the annual Indie music mayhem, Music Matters Live, held earlier in the week. Watching “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” must could as an huge experience for anyone, fan or not. It is live on stage where the rock band’s lead, Steven Tyler, find himself in his element. Now sixty-five years of age, the energy levels he exhibited on stage all through the performance, must have been equal to that of a hyperactive child six decades his junior. Armed with his his trademark microphone stand, – streamers and all, he left even those who weren’t moving as vigourously as some of the more youthful members of the crowd I found myself squeezed  in next to, breathless.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive six year old.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive five year old.

It was in all a mesmerising performance, which made the long wait for the group to appear on stage, well worth the while. Scheduled to start at 8 pm, things only got moving at 8.20 pm with the opening act, Euphoria Audio. The rock band from Wakefield in the UK did a wonderful job of getting the crowd in the mood with some wonderful numbers of their own. Led by Matt Shirty, with Ben Lloyd and Ben Hughes on guitar and Josh Hughes on drums,  the band entertained for some 40 minutes.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Matt Shirty.

Matt Shirty.

It was another 40 minutes after the initial Euphoria have left the stage before the so-called Bad Boys from Boston, made their entry with Steven Tyler, appearing at the end of catwalk-like to the stage which placed him right into the heart of the crowd. Dressed in a hat, red glasses and a sequin studded jacket (which he later threw into the screaming crowd) with scarves draped over it, he would not have looked out of place in a theatre act, wielding the microphone stand with the words “lick me” at the bottom of its base almost as if it was a part of him.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Steven Tyler.

Steven Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars - was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars – was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

IMG_3089

The band which goes back more than four decades, does on the evidence of the crowd, have a following here spanning the generations. At what probably was the highlight of the concert, the delivery of their greatest hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the 1998 movie Armageddon, a large portion of the 10,500 strong crowd – many who looked like they were in their teens (or just out of it), moving with the music and singing along at the top of their voices.

Joe Perry on guitar behind his back.

Joe Perry on guitar getting to work behind his back.

While it might have been the flamboyant Tyler who stole the show the rest of the band wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. Joe Perry gave a masterclass, particularly in going back to basics revisiting the Blues. There was also two guest appearances with Japanese beatboxer Hikakin and hip-hop dancer Marquese Scott making an appearance late on during a rendition of “Walk This Way”. It seemed like it only just started when Aerosmith’s first full concert, which did go on for an hour and fifty minutes, did as all good things have to – come to an end with a grand piano wheeled down the stage for the encore of “Dream On” which was followed by “Sweet Emotion”. When the end did come, many in the crowd, myself included certainly would have loved to dream the concert on. And if they do come to town ever again, borrowing from the title of their biggest hit,  I (most certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing!

More of Joe Perry.

More of Joe Perry. 

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

The many faces of the flamboyant Steven Tyler during Saturday’s concert:

IMG_3124

IMG_3085

IMG_3058

IMG_2986

IMG_2976

IMG_3003





K-Pop Night Out

26 05 2013

K-Pop and Korean music fans in Singapore had a treat on Friday when six different acts performed at Clarke Quay. The acts were that of two fairly new Korean girl groups, Ace of Angels (AOA) and SPICA; a rock group, Eastern Sidekick; a hip-hop quartet, M.I.B; a pairing of Jazz guitarist Park Juwon and blind harmonica player Jeon Jeduk; as well as R&B diva Lena Park. They were performing in a K-Pop Night Out segment of Music Matters Live with HP 2013 (MML) which drew hundreds of screaming fans who packed the area around the Fountain Stage at the Central Fountain Square.

K-Pop Night Out at MML featured two Korean girl groups which included SPICA.

K-Pop Night Out at MML featured two Korean girl groups which included SPICA.

Jeon Jeduk (L) with Park Juwon at the Fountain Stage.

Jeon Jeduk (L) with Park Juwon at the Fountain Stage.

Park Juwon.

Park Juwon.

Jeon Jeduk.

Jeon Jeduk.

The Fountain Stage.

The Fountain Stage.

Ace of Angels.

Ace of Angels.

Eastern Sidekick getting the crowd moving.

Eastern Sidekick getting the crowd moving.

IMG_2701

IMG_2713

IMG_2715

IMG_2720

Oh Joo Hwan of Eastern Sidekick.

Oh Joo Hwan of Eastern Sidekick.

Guitarist from Eastern Sidekick.

Guitarist Go Han Gyul from Eastern Sidekick.

SPICA.

SPICA.

IMG_2786

IMG_2787

IMG_2797

IMG_2800

Fans were out in full force.

Fans were out in full force.

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

Lena Park.

Lena Park.





Music Matters Live with HP 2013

23 05 2013

Going on until tomorrow evening (24 may 2013) at Clarke Quay is the latest edition of Music Matters Live (MML), Music Matters Live with HP. Part of the award-winning Digital & Music Matters Conference 2013, the three evening event brings more than emerging 50 bands representing some 20 countries to Singapore.

Music Matters Live with HP 2013 opened at Clarke Quay last evening.

Music Matters Live with HP 2013 opened at Clarke Quay last evening.

Carlos Castaño opens the three day music festival.

Carlos Castaño opens the three day music festival.

Opening the event last evening was a great first act from Filipino soul singer, Carlos Castaño who was followed on the Fountain Stage by Indonesian YouTube sensations Gamaliel, Audrey and Cantika (GAC) and Singapore’s rap and hip-hop artist Kevin Lester. It wasn’t just the acts at the Fountain Stage which had the feet of the audiences tapping – there were performances at various other venues including Singapore singer/songwriter Sarah Cheng-De Winne – a nominee in the 12th Independent Music Awards, as well as acts from some unusual origins. One that came on at the start at China One was what is the first pop and hip-hop girl group to come out of Myanmar, the Me N Ma Girls (ex Tiger Girls).

Another shot of Carlos Castaño.

Another shot of Carlos Castaño.

The Me N Ma Girls from Myanmar.

The Me N Ma Girls from Myanmar.

Kevin Lester.

Kevin Lester.

The party continues this evening with a line-up of some 43 bands at the six venues. Judging from the crowds last year, the highlight for many would probably be on tomorrow evening at K-Pop Night Out which will feature the likes of R&B diva Lena Park, a pair of girl groups AOA and SPICA, Eastern Sidekick – an indie rock band, an idol group M.I.B and jazz artistes Park Juwon and Jeon Jeduk.

Sarah Cheng-De Winnie at Fern & Kiwi.

Sarah Cheng De-Winnie at Fern & Kiwi.

The final evening will also see a showcase of our local talent which will see a line-up of local indie bands appear. These include Electrico, Plainsunset, Kevin Lester and The Observatory, as well as the very raw The Summer State, Natalie Hiong, These Brittle Bones and The Sam Willows.  MML 2013 is supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) as well as YouTube, Singapore Tourism Board, Media Development Authority, Pacific Beverages, Fender, Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), and many others. More information can be found at www.musicmatterslive.com and https://www.facebook.com/MusicMattersLive. The event can also be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/musicmatters and at the official Youtube channel is http://www.youtube.com/user/musicmatterstome.

The crown being warmed up at the Fountain Stage.

The crown being warmed up at the Fountain Stage.

Venues and Schedules (click to enlarge)

Fountain Stage Schedule

Music Matters Live 2013 - Programme Booklet A6 closed - 2013.05.

China One

Crazy Elephant

Fern & Kiwi

Music Matters Live 2013 - Programme Booklet A6 closed - 2013.05.