April 6, 2009

inSingapore: Matthew and the Mandarins enthralled audience at Esplanade (6 April 2009)

Posted in Music tagged , , , , , , at 9:14 pm by myrlinn

It’s fantastic when you rediscover old faves, as my mum found this morning when we went to see Matthew and the Mandarins, a popular country-and-western band some decades ago. She used to go see them way back then whenever she was in Singapore, and she had never forgotten them. So, when we saw that they were performing in the Coffee Morning series at the Esplanade, we bought tickets straight away! And we weren’t disappointed. Underlines again what a treat it is to listen to singers from an era when singers can SANG!!!

Matthew started off the show with a “Good Evening”!!?!! When the audience reacted with “morning”, he told us that this was the first time he’d ever performed in the morning in all his years with the band!

My first thought was: can he sing that early in the morning? I know some singers need to have their voice warmed up. But he was absolutely FINE – such a warm, smooth tone to his voice. The band has a very straightforward performing style, it’s all about the song and the music for them. You know when you watch American Idol, and how during country theme weeks, how the mentors always emphasise to the contestants the importance of ‘telling the story’ through song? Matthew does that well.

Lots of great song choices in their set as well. Full of familiar tunes, mostly from the 60s and 70s, I think, since they all sound like I heard them back in the 1970s (in the days before the walkman and personal players, when the music you listened to were the songs your parents played, often loudly, on the living room hifi system!). And they did SEVENTEEN songs, fifteen within the hour-long performance slot, and a couple of encores.

The sound system and acoustics at the Esplanade Recital Studio was fantastic as well. I hadn’t been there before, I think, and I like the intimacy of the space.

Matthew (lead singer, Matthew and the Mandarins)

Matthew (taking a picture with fans at his concert this morning)

We stayed back to just say thanks to Matthew after the show. My mum wanted to find out where he’s performing these days (in case you too are interested in checking them out, they perform at the Singapore Swimming Club).

One very interesting thing Matthew mentioned: seems a metal band in the US recently recorded his song, Singapore Cowboy!!!  Metal Matthew – could that be a new career path for Matthew? LOL.


Coffee Morning at the Esplanade,
6 April 2009, 10.30 am performance.

(I had to enlist the help of my mum and check the internet with a few I wasn’t sure of):

1. Adelina (George Strait)
2. Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)
3. Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain (Willie Nelson)
4. The Wayward Wind (Tex Ritter)
5. Hello Darling (Conway Twitty)
6. Half as Much / I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You (Hank Williams)
7. Mama Tried (Merle Haggard)
8. Look At Us (Vince Gill)
9. El Paso
10. Ghost Riders in the Sky
11. I Can Almost See Houston From Here – Matthew remarked that he learned this song when he was in Nashville in 1976. He went there by himself and this reminded him of home.
12. Branded Man / Sing Me Back Home Before I Die (Merle Haggard)
13. Chattahoochee
14. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World – Matthew dedicated this one to his mum.
15. American Trilogy ( a medley of songs)

Encore 1: Don’t Worry About Me (Marty Robbins) – a personal favourite of Matthew’s.
Encore 2:
Singapore Cowboy – their signature song, written by Matthew himself.



Singapore Cowboy (audio recording with Matthew singing the song) I found on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ric1kkzEChA

April 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Music Videos

Posted in Music tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:57 am by myrlinn

I tread through so much of life taking the middle path that it’s pretty unusual for me to LOVE (or HATE) something at first sight. Yet, this is what happened to me twice in the past week.

I came across Jon Peter Lewis’s music video for “Break the Silence”. Immediately hated it.
(Watch the “Break the Silence” music video on Youtube here)

On the other extreme, Josh Gracin’s music video for “We Weren’t Crazy”“… love it!
(Watch the “We Weren’t Crazy” music video on Youtube here)

I think a big part of my strong reaction to JPL’s music video comes from the fact that I actually love the song. “Break the Silence” is catchy pop while still having some maturity in sound. And I like the way the lyrics are put together on this song. BUT the music video is so safe, so formulaic, so cliched, that it sucked the soul out of the song. And the charmingly offbeat, intelligent personality we saw on Idol? Virtually no sign of it anywhere in the video (except perhaps in the short clips of him playing a guitar).

Josh Gracin’s video for “We Weren’t Crazy”, on the other hand, conveyed where the heart of the man lies. Early clips of him and his family were very skilfully weaved into the video, telling the story without slipping into the maudlin or the cheesy. This video definitely made a song that I was in like (not love) with seem so much more meaningful, and more enjoyable to listen to.

On the plus side for both videos: both guys are certainly looking great these days 🙂