Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review of Maroon 5's concert
25th April 2011
Singapore Indoor Stadium

Before I begin, here's a link to my review of their 2008 gig, to give you an idea of the differences between the 2 shows.

I previously swore that I wouldn't attend another Maroon 5 gig because, in all honesty, I didn't think their last one was worth the money.

However, I changed my mind when Hands All Over was released. While reports suggest it hasn't done very well sales-wise, I find it positively hypnotic, to the point where I can blast it for weeks on my car stereo or my iPod, without getting sick of any of the songs.

Suffice to say, my decision to see them a 2nd time proved to be the right one. Yesterday's show was electrifying! :)

Here's the set list:

If I Never See Your Face Again
Harder To Breathe
Give a Little More
The Sun + Billie Jean mash-up
Won't Go Home Without You
Never Gonna Leave This Bed
Secret + What's Love Got To Do With It mash-up
She Will Be Loved
Wake Up Call
This Love


Hands All Over
Makes Me Wonder
Sunday Morning

Plus points:

1) Definitely less noisy compared to 2008, which almost perforated my eardrums.

2) Adam Levine was much friendlier, as evidenced by quite a bit of banter with the audience, bouncing around the stage and posing for photographs, even conducting a nice singalong session on She Will Be Loved.

3) The whole band looked stoked by the deafening cheers from the crowd, which comprised many more youngsters this time round ( i.e. teenagers, who have a lot of money to spend, I see ). I know lead guitarist James Valentine was grinning from ear to ear. And there were moments when Adam and James threw T-shirts and even a drumstick into the audience. :)

4) Many slow numbers, which I personally feel should be increased further. Adam sang the ballads beautifully, and I especially enjoyed the mash-ups - special mention to his cover of Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It. Mesmerizing... please record it for your next album. :)

5) A stage setup that is superior to the sparse 2008 design - or to be accurate, what design? Last night's had a cool wall of spotlights behind the band, adding dramatic effects throughout the show. Nice!

6) A lengthier show - 90 minutes compared to 2008's 75.

Other standout performances: a very poignant Won't Go Home Without You, an epic Wake Up Call ( much more memorable than their 2008 version! ), and a superb Sunday Morning which had everyone roaring the lyrics.

The best of the night? A toss between Secret ( have always loved this song, glad Adam sang it! ) and Won't Go Home Without You ( sounded phenomenal! ).

Kudos as well to the amazing audience, who definitely made the show a success. I was surrounded by teens, and their enthusiasm is very infectious indeed. Wonder how Maroon 5 feels about appealing to high schoolers? Their fans are getting younger and younger, haha.

Last but not least, many compliments to the rest of the band, especially Valentine and bassist Mickey Madden. If you listen to their latest album, Hands All Over, the guitar and bass feature very prominently on many tracks ( especially the super-catchy ones ). Maybe they're responsible for the hypnotic effect. :)

Verdict: an terrific evening with a terrific band! Will definitely see them again when they return!

But... it would be nice to see them in more formal attire next time round. They wore the same T-shirt-and-jeans getups again. Adam looks scrawny, he needs a jacket!

Haven't had time to download photos and a video ( of Makes Me Wonder ) just yet. Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Let The Countdown Begin :)

In less than 7 months' time, The Bridge Project will return to Singapore, with Kevin Spacey leading an illustrious cast as they stage Richard III.

I have waited forever for this chance to watch Mr. Spacey on stage, and intend to utilize the opportunity as fully as possible:

Attend at least 2 performances.

Help publicize the event by collaborating with the SRT.

And yes, have a proper conversation with Mr. Spacey, if I'm lucky. ( I need to thank him in person for replying to my fan letter! :))

And to those of you who haven't been converted by my numerous recommendations just yet, please refer to this classic clip featuring one of his most memorable roles, i.e. John Doe in David Fincher's Se7en.

A friend of mine watched Mr. Spacey on Broadway a few years ago, in a production titled Moon For The Misbegotten. She was in her mid 20s at the time, but was practically swooning as she recounted the evening to me. Of course, it helps that she's also a big fan of his. :)

Some don't quite understand why I find Mr. Spacey so appealing. It's an acquired taste which hasn't altered in 15 years or so, and I'm convinced it will remain status quo indefinitely.

Listen to me: his stage performances are DAZZLING. DO NOT MISS IT!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Entry #7

A quick browse of my blog's 2011 archives thus far reveals a significant and troubling drop in frequency of posts.

While work commitments account for part of this trend, I also admit to neglecting this site somewhat.

A case of blogger's fatigue? Perhaps. But considering my intent to divert personal writing efforts to 'less frivolous' pursuits, it's anyone's guess when the next entry will pop up.

However, rest assured that if there's something worth discussing - especially if it's a Kevin Spacey-related event - the updates shall continue. :)

Recently, through the kindness of a fellow KS fan, I was able to download the entire Nancy Hanks lecture which was delivered by Mr. Spacey in Washington, D.C. a fortnight ago. Picture resolution wasn't great, but the sound quality was terrific, and that's all that matters to me. :)

If you haven't seen it, go to the link provided in my last post. If your computer - like mine - for some strange reason, refuses to play the video, drop me an email and I'll try to send the file to you directly.

Once again, Mr. Spacey delivers a beautiful speech, this time for a heavenly 40 minutes, which is 4 times the length of his usual TV interviews, and twice the length of his chat with Channel NewsAsia when he was in Singapore a few months ago.

However, this lecture is of course very different from an interview. Mr. Spacey has the stage all to himself for the entire duration, speaking on a topic that is near and dear to his heart. It is a powerful speech, its impact strengthened by Mr. Spacey's obvious passion for the arts, as he shares many personal experiences from teenhood all the way to his full-fledged career as an Oscar- and Tony-winning actor.

I am also very pleased to learn about the upcoming launch of the Kevin Spacey Foundation, as well as his support for artistic talent in the Middle East.

When he became my all-time favourite actor more than a decade ago, my appreciation was directed mainly at his acting / singing / directing talents. Now, he is described as a 'political activist', The Old Vic's 'artistic director', and 'founder' of an organization that aims to provide opportunities for others to succeed in film and theatre industries.

I am deeply awed by this gentleman. :)

Also, I watched Casino Jack last week. A hilarious movie in spite of its actual content ( lobbyist Jack Abramoff gets nabbed for breaching ethical codes, embezzling funds and getting mixed up with shady characters ), with a hysterically funny performance from Mr. Spacey.
Watch out for 2 key scenes where Abramoff acts out like a 5-year-old - when he gets fired, and while pitching a movie idea to producers.

Next on my to-watch-once-available list: another comedy starring Mr. Spacey, titled Father Of Invention.

Something else that's been making me laugh really hard: Mary Roach's Spook, which I chanced upon while browsing the Paranormal section of the public library. ( Yes, believe it or not, the library has a Paranormal section. :))

Why was I there, you ask? Well, I've been fascinated by things of this nature since I was a kid ( blame it on a personal experience which haunts me to this day, pun intended ). But a decision to take on a legitimate writing project led me to explore this genre further, and Roach's book caught my eye immediately.

I'm already more than halfway through, and hooked to the point of reading way past my bed-time, or whenever there's a free moment.

It is, quite simply, one of the best books I've read in a very long time. Probably not since John Berendt's City Of Falling Angels, which was maybe 4-5 years ago. ( Berendt's my favourite non-fiction author; fiction honour goes to Thomas Hardy. )

Roach writes fluently, though you need a very good command of the English language to follow some of her lengthier sentences. What I find amazing are (1) her detailed and tireless research, which take her around the globe, even to the point of enrolling in 'medium school', (2) an astute eye for minutiae, especially physical idiosyncrasies ( the more eccentric, the better ), and best of all, (3) an uncanny ability to turn the mundane into side-splitting, laugh-out-loud observations, through the simple use and manipulation of the written word.

The most entertaining of the lot ( up to the current bookmarked page at least ) involve well-aimed jabs at scientists ( quite a few of whom are medical doctors ) who conduct crazy experiments in their search for proof of the paranormal, various kooky theories about the authenticity of ectoplasm ( 'vaginally extruded' tickling my funny bone repeatedly :)), amd more kookiness at a medium school in the UK ( at a legitimate university, not some New Age nut's home ).

I've opted to leave specific quotes out of the picture, because this is a book that needs to be - that MUST BE - read from beginning to end, in order to savour the full effect of Roach's rapier-sharp humour.

It's always such a pleasure to discover a new author whom I can follow obsessively. While John Berendt figures out the subject for his next novel ( which, based on his 1-book-a-decade pattern, will be published no earlier than 2015 ), Roach shall keep me company.

Before I sign off, I'd just like to express great excitement over the soon-to-be-released X-Men: First Class, starring the accomplished James McAvoy. Woohoo! :)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Kevin Spacey's Nancy Hanks Lecture

This entry is meant to highlight the above speech, which Mr. Spacey made only a few days ago at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

YouTube clips can be found here and here.

The full speech is here.

[ Thank you to members of a Kevin Spacey fan mailing list for providing this info! ]

Mr. S is one of the finest speakers I know of, effortless at commanding the stage and audience. He is passionate about arts advocacy, and delivers yet another inspiring address.

A worthy quote:

"... I also believe that if you have been successful in the business that you wanted to be successful in, then it is your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down. That was a phrase that Jack Lemmon used to share with me all the time and one that I have now adopted as my own.

...We can all send the elevator back down, 'cos it doesn't matter what floor you're on. In life, there's always someone just below, just waiting for the chance to be invited up. Our job is to make sure the floors we live on are not so high that we can no longer hear the voices of young people crying out for an opportunity that will help shape their lives and help shape a better country."

Another speech, given at the Congressional Arts Kick Off. This was prepared for a House appropriations subcommittee hearing which was unfortunately cancelled at the last minute.

"Sometimes, a person of experience - and it just so happens that Jack Lemmon was a huge idol of mine - can say just the right words, at just the right time, to a young person, and change their lives."

I know exactly what he means. A number of key figures have shaped my future in various ways, like a secondary school English teacher who complimented and nurtured my early interest in writing, a strict piano teacher who pushed me to a Distinction grade, senior medical colleagues who guided my career path.

Local schools don't focus on the arts as much as those in the U.S. and Europe, but I have never regretted my choice to major in Literature back in RGS, and can't imagine life without creative writing, films, plays and musicals.

Mr. Spacey gave me an epiphany last December, one which I will endeavour to never lose sight of. I didn't manage to express this in my fan letter ( which was prepared before his interview and our meeting ), but if I have the opportunity to speak to him in person when he returns with The Bridge Project, I will be sure to convey my appreciation.

Last but not least, a link to his MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews on Hardball.

p.s. And who in the world at DreamWorks Animation is reading my blog?! :D

Have a good weekend!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Cloud Nine!

Actually, make that cloud nine hundred and ninety-nine! :D

For readers who aren't connected to me via Facebook, the reason for my euphoria is this: Mr. Spacey, whom I have been a huge fan of for around 15 years, personally replied to my fan letter, which I was lucky enough to hand to him during our short meeting at the Audi A8 launch last December.

( I'd end every sentence with an exclamation mark, but am exercising great restraint. :))

These are photos from one of his pre-Audi event press conferences, if you're wondering.

Mr. Spacey's letter was posted from The Old Vic Theatre in London, and reached my workplace within 10 days. I included my name card in the envelope I passed to him, you see. Efficient postal service! And thank goodness the precious missive was conveyed to me safely. It could've gotten lost in the whole heap!

First, I am awed by the fact that Mr. Spacey read my letter. He has an extremely hectic schedule, especially these past 4 months, jetting around for the awards season ( he executive-produced The Social Network ), then post-Oscars, continuing with numerous interviews, even hosting former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday bash.

To be honest, I had no idea what would happen to my letter the night I presented it to him. Yes, he thanked me and put it in his jacket pocket, but I wouldn't have blamed anyone if it had gotten misplaced or forgotten, considering his whirlwind timetable and all that packing / unpacking.

So I am truly amazed that he still has the letter almost 4 months after receiving it. I can't imagine where he stored it before responding. :)

Second, the warmth and graciousness of his reply floored me completely. He thanked me for my 'kind letter' and for being 'thoughtful' for taking the time to write to him. I mean, this is what a fan should say to his / her idol, not the other way round!

Third, my letter was pretty long ( 1 full page, single-spaced, in rather small font ) and moderately gushy, but he definitely read the entire thing. Because he picked out a few paragraphs / sentences and addressed them directly. One of which is my question about whether he's met Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who's now residing in Singapore and avoiding all the reporters. Answer: yes, Mr. Spacey has indeed met Eduardo, and thinks he will continue to elude anyone who tries to get him to 'go on the record' ( that's a direct quote from Mr. Spacey, by the way ).

Fourth, he sounded apologetic about my fan mail package, sent in late 2008, not being acknowledged after such a long time. I've already emailed The Old Vic on 2 previous occasions, and we all agree that it probably got lost en route to London. But Mr. S said he'd look for it when he goes through the boxes in his office, because he intends to open every single one of them during his stint with The Bridge Project, at least when he's in London.

Actually, my 'package' is a manila envelope rather than a box. But it may be better if he doesn't find it, because I hope to thank him in person when he returns to Singapore to play Richard III, and this time, I will make sure to bring a proper gift of appreciation!

I received his letter just before my shift on April Fool's Day. People must've been wondering why I had a goofy smile on my face for 8 whole hours.

The smile's still there, just a little less goofy. :)

So Mr. Spacey, if you read this, a big THANK YOU for the wonderful gesture. :D

Other happy news: I have confirmed tickets for 2 Broadway shows, booked 6 months in advance! Orchestra level, centre block aisle, for about US$140 each. A steal, in my opinion, since I paid more than double for Jersey Boys ( but of course, those were in the premium section, because all the shows were otherwise sold out ).

Which 2, you ask? The Book Of Mormon, and the Daniel Radcliffe musical ( with the loooong title ). If I could have my way, I'd watch one show every single night, but my mum's worried about jet lag, so she's asked me to restrict myself. For now. Fear not, I shall continue to wear her down. :P

Before I sign off, a link to Casino Jack, one of Mr. Spacey's recent releases, and a role for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.

Have a good week!