REVIEW / CONCERT
THE TEMPER TRAP - LIVE IN SINGAPORE
The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel
Australian rockers The Temper Trap are no strangers to Singapore, having played the Laneway music festival in 2011 and a stripped-down MTV Sessions gig in 2013.
Yet, last Friday's show at The Coliseum was their first headlining concert here - a curious fact that frontman Dougy Mandagi mentioned early in their set.
This time, they were here to plug their third album Thick As Thieves. Released last June, it has been hailed as a return to the form of their radio-friendly, guitar-driven 2008 debut Conditions.
Accordingly, both albums dominated their 75-minute set, which opened with a flurry of crowd-pleasing, uptempo numbers such as Love Lost, Fader and Burn.
It was a safe, well-oiled performance. The band got the 1,100- strong audience bobbing and singing along without any theatrics or fancy visuals, opting instead for standard stage lighting and a plain black backdrop.
They also got by without former lead guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, who left in late 2013. His parts were covered by keyboardist Joseph Greer, who deftly switched between both instruments on the fly. The arrangements sounded full and complete, almost begging the question of why a fifth member was previously needed.
Amid cracking beats and occasional electronic pulses, Mandagi's voice soared. His pure, focused falsetto is perhaps the definitive element of The Temper Trap's sound.
At once powerful and vulnerable, it is the perfect vessel for the band's strident, earnest tunes. The buff Indonesian-born singer maintained studio-perfect delivery all evening, hitting the audacious highs of Trembling Hands and Ordinary World without showboating.
Looking relaxed in a plain T-shirt, he rarely ventured beyond cajoling the largely 20something audience to clap along at various points and sing along to the stadium-sized chorus of So Much Sky.
Only on the snarling, urgent Science Of Fear did he show some teeth, pushing into the front row for the song's climax.
At the end of the bouncy Alive, crew members dashed onstage to set up additional percussion for Drum Song. Unique in the band's oeuvre for being instrumental, the vigorous piece has been used to close their main sets for years. Mandagi displayed some mean rhythm chops, thumping away at a floor tom while Greer banged out a hypnotic four-note riff.
The band returned for an encore featuring their breakout hit Sweet Disposition, a song so popular that it continues to overshadow everything they have done since.
Upon hearing its first shimmering notes, scores of fans raised their phones to record it. Greer, who by now is the de facto lead guitarist, handled its signature arpeggiated riff effortlessly. Which is just as well, because this is one he will probably be playing for a long, long time.