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

March 26, 2008

There IS such a thing as a FREE lunch in Singapore

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , at 12:57 pm by myrlinn

Many people believe that in Singapore, life is good IF you have money.

True, to some extent, but I’ve found that it’s also fun to find out what you can enjoy for FREE in Singapore.

My favourite free thing to do is ‘Go to the library’. Public libraries in Singapore are clean, comfortable and quite well-stocked. I always enjoy myself going there, and browsing round the shelves for a few hours.

There are also actually quite a few free events in Singapore, performances, exhibitions and such. I’ve found, though, that the ones I enjoy the most have been those at the Esplanade Concert Hall – their ‘Lunchbox’ and ‘Beautiful Sunday’ programmes. Mostly local acts, but they’re actually quite good.

Comfortable seats, great acoustics, polite, helpful ushers — when I go there to see something free, it usually feels like something worth paying for even.

In fact, a friend and I went to a ‘Lunchbox’ programme just yesterday. We had actually expected to see John Molina, but they changed the programme to Wynne Sandosham singing songs from the Elton John songbook. All in all, it was enjoyable. When you watch him and his band, you really do appreciate just how good some of the musicians in Singapore are. I thought the main strength of the half-hour programme was the arrangements. Very strong work there. I loved the way they used the different drums to make Elton John’s songs just that little bit different. Wynne Sandosham had a little trouble with his falsetto at the beginning, but that smoothed out further into the set. And while I don’t think he’s an amazing singer, I do appreciate his musicality, his styling of the songs were very good.

And a while ago, a couple of months, perhaps, another friend and I went to a ‘Beautiful Sunday’ programme, a guitar ensemble performance. If I remember right, it was the NUS Guitar Ensemble. They performed a very good selection of music in their one-hour set. They presented classical and classic pieces from different parts of the world. Going to that concert inspired me to take out my classical CDs again, actually.

Useful Links

The Esplanade

National Library