Top acts Scorpions and Whitesnake heralded a time of perseverance and unity in the spirit of ‘Rock and Roll Never Dies’.
“We want rock! We want rock!” chanted the crowd in the front row near the barrier as I stood at the photo pit waiting for the next act to take centre stage.
“Sorry, no rock songs today,” said a cheeky member among them, and everyone laughed in unison.
Despite the change in venue and date of the event, which was initially slated to take place at Fort Canning Park on 4 March, many continued to throng the new venue at the Star Theatre on 5 March, mostly undeterred by the small change and in it to have a helluva time.
Pumped up after a wonderful set by opening and local band Rockweller, who gave us familiar favourites such as ‘Graceland’ and ‘Bigger! Faster! Louder!’, the crowd seemed energised for more.
Their attitude was an amalgamation of how the positivity of humanity and the love of music, particularly rock, can bring people together, when things get down.
I say this in reference of course to COVID-19, whose continuous rise in cases around the world, has resulted in many cancelled and postponed acts in the region.
Yet despite circumstances surrounding this evolving situation, some shows still push on.
The recent Garden Beats Festival for one, or Pat Metheny’s Mosaic Music Series performance at the Esplanade Concert Hall.
On Thursday night, Singapore Rockfest II was added to that memorable list. A list, where shows go on, not only with added safety measures in place, but also giving us the empowerment to make conscious and responsible decisions for ourselves.
And we music fans are thankful for this.
As Whitesnake took to the stage, the crowd screamed, and the rest as they say – was history.
Frontman David Coverdale in his great aura of golden locks and fancy microphone spinning moves, powered through the set in formidable fashion and sound.
“Good evening Singapore. It’s lovely to see you again. Cheers to tonight,” he said as he addressed the passionate crowd in-between songs, before reminding everyone to have a great time.
“All you have to do is make as much f***ing noise as you can,” he said. “Cause that’s what we’re here for!”
“And also to your good health!” he added
The hard rock English band continued to give us a brilliant array of favourites that rippled in a fusion of strong vocals, electric “holy smokes” sort of riffs and a great vibe all around.
We jumped, danced, and dived through the night, somewhat hoarse but happy.
Highlights included the piercing scream end by Coverdale during ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ as well as the mind-blowing “riffs off” between Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach during “Guitar Duel” at the end of ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’.
Not to be outdone was of course Tommy Aldridge’s powerful drum solo at the end of ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’.
With one hand spinning a drumstick and the other hand playing, his dexterity knows no bounds, as he then continued to play using just his hands, after he had thrown his sticks to the crowd below.
Crowd favourite and the more ballad-like ‘Is This Love’ got the crowd singing along, encapsulated in the colours of its wonderful nostalgia.
A couple of songs later and their set ended with the equally nostalgic ‘Here I Go Again’ but not before the band thanked the crowd again and told us to always be happy and fearless.
“A thousand thanks Singapore. Be safe, be happy and don’t let anybody make you afraid.”
Wise words to heed indeed.
With the night still young, many fans headed out of the hall to “rehydrate” before the Scorpions came out.
The German rock band, famed for their songs in the 70s, were due any moment now…
A curtain drop, helicopter visuals akin to an action movie and smoke from a smoke machine backstage, formed the epic entrance of this legendary band.
The band went out with a bang right from the start as its members gave us a titanic of a show!
One formidable master was Frontman Klaus Meine, who had just gone through surgery for kidney stones, while on tour barely two weeks earlier.
Song after song was filled with deep-rooted and intense rock layers and riffs, and an unfettered atmosphere of “Keep Calm and Carry On”, should I say “Keep Calm and Rock On” feeling among everyone.
We wanted rock. So rock hard, we did!
Even the fairly new and softer rock piece, ‘We Built This House’ was well-received.
Addressing the audience, we were also reminded of how ‘Wind Of Change’ remains a song of hope.
More so, in these “trying times”, I reckon….
No surprise that this nostalgia of a tune also received one of the biggest crowd sing-alongs that night, along with ‘Send Me An Angel’ and ‘Still Loving You’.
Fist-bumping fans on stage right after ‘Tease Me Please Me’, the band also made several other interactions with the crowd, one of which had them throw and “dust” several drumsticks and plectrums out to the impassioned audience below.
I actually remember picking up a stray plectrum and fallen drumstick in the pit for fans.
As the young night continued and we dove further in, fuelled by the energy of the music and atmosphere of the night, perhaps one of the highlights of that night was watching Mikkey Dee’s heart-pounding drum solo.
To put this visually into perspective, his entire drum set-up was put on a separate, slightly higher stage, of which, during his solo, was slowly raised by a flybar above.
Judging from the crowd’s fervent applause and shouts, it was clear that the entire solo, both visually and sonically, was out of this world!
Scorpions really knew how to do a live show!
As the beloved band left us with encores which included fave sing-along ‘Still Loving You’ and the high-energy ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’, I feel blessed to know that amidst all the riffs and epic vocals that night, the basis of that night was that – Rock and Roll Never Dies.
In essence, the human spirit never dies…
These similar sentiments were even echoed by Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Health as well as Founder Lauretta Alabons of LAMC Productions, who took to the stage to say a few words during the changeover between Whitesnake and Scorpions.
“Thank you so much Singapore! We love you!” said the Scorpions as the evening ended.
No. Thank you Whitesnake and Scorpions – for showing us how to really “Keep Calm and Rock On”!
I reckon that we all rocked hard like a hurricane!
Special thanks to LAMC Productions for the media invite.
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