Day 2: Rachael Yamagata, Damien Rice, Ratatat at Neon Lights 2015, Fort Canning

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It’s Rachael Yamagata’s seventh time in Singapore, and my first to watch her here. My schedule had always clashed with her concert timings, so it was quite a relief that I could finally at least, to have said that I’ve watched her in the flesh belting her ‘depressed’ tunes (in her words), ‘Be Be Your Love’, ‘I’ll Find A Way’, ‘Reason Why’ and ‘Duet’, the track made popular by her old friend (lover?) Ray Lamontagne.

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Having jetlag, Rachael kept the crowd and her fans tickled as she missed a piano key, mumbled about her long flight and the weather, then proceeded to curse much to everyone’s delight. She’s as real as her poignant love songs, telling the crowd to not clap as they are “sad depressed songs”; but I guess the point I’m getting from this is that, when you allow for the quietness to sink in and her voice soar through, the words, lyrics and tunes might just bring a tear to a grown-up man in the middle of the field.

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Crowd puller Irish songwriter Damien Rice was definitely the highlight of the festival. Having seen him perform in the intimate halls of Esplanade, I recounted the time when I was there in the hall, (and alone because I didn’t have friends who actually liked his songs so that makes me a rare one), tearing up as he belted ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ and the group of flamboyant transgenders who were there earlier on making a small ruckus, had suddenly been heard sniffling in a corner. It was that surreal that his songs could have made a mark on each and every one of our lives in that hall, but it did. That setting was intimate, and Damien, now wide open in the green fields; could his songs translate well?

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photos taken with iPhone 5S

“How are the singers in the Singapore?”, he quipped.

Damien sang his ever famous tracks taken from the album ‘O’ like ‘Volcano’ (which he got the crowd to sing to the words), to  ‘Cannonball’, ‘Delicate’ (my heart stopped when the melody came in, it’s a fave song of mine to sing whilst I’m driving in the car), ‘Cheers, Darlin’ ‘The Blower’s Daughter’; and ‘I Don’t Want To Change You’ from his 2014 album ‘My Favourite Faded Fantasy”.

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The most unexpected part of his slot was when he asked for two fans, a girl and guy, to come on stage, and sit at a table, as he poured them both wine, and recounted a story of how these two met, somewhat on a date, and finally led to the ending where the girl said she had to go, because her lover was waiting. That was when he jumped straight into ‘Cheers, Darlin.’ Becauce I’ve never watched him in concert doing some sort of act, nor make small jokes with his fans; that I was overcome with a lovely wave of surprise.

I walked over to the next stage where Ratatat was due to perform, and once the rock-electro duo sauntered in, the energy was high! The visuals projected were some of the best highlights of their performance; that said, the Brooklyn music act also gave their best when it comes to playing their big hits live, like ‘Loud Pipes’, ‘Cream on Chrome’, to ‘Wild Cat’. I swear I must’ve burned a thousand calories just dancing on the floor.

Great job, kudos to the organisers at Neon Lights. Here’s to next year!

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