Best & Worst 2017

Best & Worst 2017: Western Concerts

British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey put on a mesmerising set. PHOTO: ESPLANADE


PJ Harvey, Esplanade Theatre, Jan 13

Equal parts sensual, thrilling and terrifying, British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey's debut set in Singapore was mesmerising.

Her stage movements were compelling and dramatic, while her voice was rich, creamy and seductive.

Dipping into her vast and eclectic discography dating back to the early 1990s, Harvey played old classics that included the post-grunge pummel of tracks from 1992 debut Dry to the richly-textured tunes from her latest album, 2016's The Hope Six Demolition Project.

Backed by a stellar ensemble that included alt-rock vets such as Mick Harvey and John Parish, she lived up to her reputation as an artist in constant reinvention.

Foo Fighters, National Stadium, Aug 26

The 22-year wait between shows was too long and American rockers the Foo Fighters realised it.

The crowd of 25,000, too, was on brilliant form, singing along to every lyric, taking over from lead singer Dave Grohl on occasion. He even got emotional on the tune Big Me, with his voice cracking as he sang.

Ever the master showman, he made everyone feel welcome at this glorious rock show that was more like a run-through of the band's greatest hits than one to promote their latest album - not that anyone was complaining.

One More Time - A Tribute To Zouk At Jiak Kim Street, Capitol Theatre, March 24 and 25

The old Zouk in Jiak Kim Street may be gone, but for two nights, dance music lovers got to relive the good, old days - this time with orchestral interpretations of beloved Zouk anthems that used to fill the main room, Phuture, Velvet and Wine Bar.

Led by conductor and composer Indra Ismail, the 48-piece orchestra powered through 90 minutes of clubland classics over two nights.

Symphonic versions of everything from Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman to Daft Punk's One More Time - after which the show was named - were helped along by gorgeous, soulful vocals by singers Vanessa Fernandez, Alemay Fernandez, Rani Singam and Hazrul Nizam.

On a night that saw euphoric highs and the crowd dancing throughout, the homage was made even more poignant with the appearance of tabla player M.S. Maniam.

A familiar face at the old Zouk, he played on the clubland classic Music Is The Answer by Danny Tenaglia and Celeda.


Guns N' Roses, Changi Exhibition Centre, Feb 25

American hard rock luminaries Guns N' Roses' first concert in Singapore was supposed to be a dream show for rock fans here, but instead turned into a nightmare for many among the 50,000 crowd.

The band, playing with a line-up that included the reunion of core members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan, were in top form, but there was an overwhelming outcry from fans who complained about having to wait hours for food, drinks and shuttle buses to take them to and from the relatively inaccessible Changi Exhibition Centre.

There were also issues with getting refunds to unused credit in the wristbands that the concertgoers had to wear to make purchases, which were resolved only weeks after the show was over.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline Best & Worst 2017: Western Concerts. Subscribe