Friday, June 16, 2006

In Reverse Chronological Order

It's been an eventful -- albeit exhausting -- week.

But also immensely enjoyable. And that's a gross understatement. :)

First, a Review of the Jamie Cullum's Singapore Concert at SUNTEC City this evening!

I'm going to suffer the consequences of severe insomnia tonight. But man oh man oh man, if you weren't there for the show, you really missed out on something special.

Things kicked off quite promptly at 8:15pm, with Jamie making an unannounced appearance on-stage, surprising the audience who initially didn't realize he'd arrived ( me included ).

Almost immediately, he and his band ( trusty old mates Geoff Gascoyne on bass and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums, plus 2 new fellas on trumpet and saxophone / percussion / keyboard ) launched straight into Photograph from his latest Catching Tales album. Lots of energy and great improvs, but I didn't really feel the heat till later ( read on to find out more :)).

Following that opening piece, he treated us to an awesome, 2-hour non-stop jam session comprising electrifying performances of Get Your Way, Mind Trick, What A Difference A Day Made, These Are The Days, Twentysomething, Old Devil Moon, I Could Have Danced All Night, I Get A Kick Out Of You, Wind Cries Mary, and High And Dry, among others ( to be reviewed separately below ).

Wardrobe changes consisted of simple peeling off of outer layers, i.e. he began in a black jacket / black pants / white shirt getup, but by the 3rd song he'd taken both the jacket and shirt off, leaving just a T-shirt. Some guy later yelled for him to "Take your pants off!" ( during the encore ). Wonder who THAT was? :D

He's grown much shaggier ( that's the best description I can think off, heh heh ). In short ( no pun intended ), his hair is longer and the fringe reminds me a bit of Paul Twohill from Singapore Idol. Though nowhere as scary, of course.

Stage antics are well-known to most by now: frantic banging, lots of jumping around, kicking, plucking, hammering, a couple of leaps from the top of the piano. He succeeded in breaking the keyboard lid -- tried to reattach it but failed. He also played a damn mean guitar and brought the house down with 2 fantastic drum solos, one of which was a recreation of festivities in his hometown, reminiscent of the Mardis Gras parade. No wonder he felt a little winded, commenting that "I need to go the gym more." Poor thing. :)

Highlights Galore

My favourite performances:

Very unexpected choices, mind you. That's what I love about Jamie -- you can listen to his CDs, watch the DVDs, catch him in various TV performances, experience an intimate showcase ( check out my previous entry dated July 17th 2004, accessible through the archives on the right ) -- this guy NEVER does a song the same way twice.

2 years ago, I loved I Get A Kick Out Of You and Frontin'.

This time round, I absolutely ADORE London Skies and Lover, You Should Have Come Over.

The former was written for his girlfriend as a reassurance that there's much to love about London, despite its "crappy weather". Jamie played the guitar on this one, and sang it most tenderly. Maybe fellow concert-goers beg to differ, but I think he poured his heart and soul into it, and although it's never been one of my personal favs, it is now. Great job. :)

The latter, on the other hand, is a cover of a Jeff Buckley classic. Again, never made much of an impression on me before, but blew me away tonight. He didn't perform this at the last showcase, so hearing it 'live' was a whole new experience, and his vocals were so raw I was completely mesmerized. I just love it whenever he sings "Sometimes a man / gets carried away". Whoa nelly!

The covers rock!

I counted 4 new ones tonight.

1. A hip-hop medley: So Sick ( by Ne-Yo ) and Gold Digger ( Kanye West and Jamie Foxx ) which led to the finale, i.e. Frontin' ( originally done by N.E.R.D. ).

Truth be told, I'm no hip-hop fan, but I know these songs 'cos I, err, watch MTV a lot. :)

And for the record, he hit the ball right out of the park on this one!

I happen to pretty much hate So Sick, though Gold Digger's got a nice riff, but Jamie's acoustic piano versions were BEAUTIFUL. GENIUS. UNBELIEVABLE. Darn sexy too, especially on the latter when he did the "get down girl go 'head get down" bits. I remember shaking my head in admiration. He made both songs a hundred times better than I ever imagined was possible. Wow.

Read on to find out what Jamie had to say about them later -- yes, I spoke to him. :D


Took me a while to recognize the song, but Peter Cincotti covered it on his debut album, as did Celine Dion.

During the piece, Jamie welcomed fans from all the way in the back of the auditorium to come forward. He shook hands, posed for pictures, squeezed past amused crowds in one of the rows then planted himself right smack in the middle, sitting down for a few minutes while Geoff did a solo.

It was GREAT! :D

The last cover is none other than Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. I don't know this one, but he sang his guts out 'cos it was the last song of the evening, so I'll remember it for the rest of my life!



He asked us to do backup on These Are The Days and High And Dry. Fun, but wish there'd been more. :)

And without stating the obvious, Jamie's one of the friendliest performers around. Talked to the audience often, joked around a lot, swigged a can of Tiger beer then gave it to a guy standing near the stage during the encore segment, brought his 5 sets of sneakers with him then proffered them so we could applaud and make catcalls when the show neared the end, wrapped himself in the British flag as an act of patriotism ( especially since there's an England match tonight )... There're just too many incidents to recount, argh!

By the end of the concert, everyone had rushed security ( with Jamie's blessing, of course ) and stationed themselves at the front, leaping around like lunatics when he told them to, to great effect I must admit. It was a giant mosh pit, and I had to stand on my chair in order to get good shots.

Yes, dear readers, I took more than 50 pictures at this gig. Will upload them soon. :)

It was indeed a TERRIFIC show. But I can't help wondering if a more intimate setting would've helped the situation? Have never really liked SUNTEC. Even the Singapore Indoor Stadium feels better. Weird.

And now, for the Meet-And-Greet Session With Mr. Cullum. :D

Thought it was guaranteed to all VVIP ticket-holders, but apparently not.

My deepest appreciation to the very nice lady who made this all possible. :)

It was a simple affair which took place at a balcony just above the stage. Whole thing lasted maybe 15-20 minutes at most, with perhaps 15-20 people in attendance.

Jamie changed clothes and freshened up before meeting us, and was extremely warm and obliging throughout. There wasn't a formal queue so we just stood around him and took turns walking forward to pose for pictures and get autographs.

I was one of the last to go up to him, after Jamie asked, "Have I missed anyone?"

So I stepped to his side, said hello and stretched out my arm. He flashed a grin, returned the greeting and gave me a nice firm handshake.

[ the following exchange is a rough gist of what transpired ]

Me: I really enjoyed your show -- it was great!

JC: Oh thank you very much!

( we stop to take a photo, during which he puts his arm around me and vice versa )

Me: ( passing him 2 CD sleeves and the tour programme ) Can you sign more than 1 CD?

JC: ( beaming ) Of course! ( proceeds to scribble his signatures )

Me: By the way, are you going to record So Sick and Gold Digger for your next album?

JC: ( looks a little embarrassed then laughs ) I don't know. I actually just heard them on the radio today!

Me: Well, I hope you will, 'cos you did a great job with those covers.

JC: ( looks touched, smiles again ) Thank you, I appreciate that. And thanks for coming.

Very nice chap. Attentive to a fault, made direct eye contact for most of the conversation and stood very close, such that I was practically whispering and he whispered right back. Haha. :)

Stay tuned for photos. Have to scroll through a big chunk then post the better ones. There're some priceless shots in there!

Fattening Dinners, Gossip, Booze and Late Night Football

I didn't plan most of them, but somehow got roped into it.

Tuesday was spent with a group of male medical colleagues, a number of whom I was meeting for the first time.

Covert ops in progress, so can't provide details here. But it's for a good cause. :)

Spent 2 hours soaking in the information that was flying around the table. I always feel a little out of place in boys' club situations, but I know they did their best to relieve the pressure.

Looking forward to the next wave of changes, which will hopefully materialize quite soon.

And last but not least, Monday's dinner / hangout session with a Certain Someone. ( in case you're wondering, I never date, but I do hang out :))

Someone whom I haven't seen in 3 years, and who's never formally invited me out during the 6 years we've known each other -- until now.

We've worked together before, but he took a sharp detour in 2003. Hint: "747".

Think many would be quite surprised to learn that we've kept in touch for so long.

I went with no expectations whatsoever, but he managed to exceed any that I could muster. The evening was, in a word, flawless.

Thank you for that. :)

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