It was an exciting moment when the 4-member band took their positions at their respective musical instruments. All eyes were on the sides of the Recital Studio at the Esplanade, clearly waiting for Feeling Good With Nathan Hartono to begin. As music began to spice up the studio, Nathan Hartono, with a swirl, took his stand at the centre stage, to much applause and cheers from the audience. Decked in a T-shirt and black coat, his classy combination of jeans and leather shoes complemented the tone of a pop/soul/jazz concert.
On the whole, the concert was quite an achievement for the 15-year-old. The programme unfolded smoothly and the songs he sang from his 11-track debut album Life, Love and All That Jazz earned him unanimous acclamation. However, if you were expecting a pure jazz concert with pieces from Norah Jones and the legendary Ray Charles, you’d be disappointed. All items were either jazzed up or mixed with pop, nothing like the quieter and slower tunes you’d hear at a glamourous hotel lounge. For the young crooner, that could be his best way of staying in sync with listeners his age and while enjoying membership in the stereotyped old man’s genre of jazz.
It wasn’t clear if it was a habit or if he was lost for words because this was after all, his first solo concert, but his American accent and deep voice (too deep for his age) made his sentences inaudible. Simply put, he mumbled. He didn’t announce each title before singing too, and I had to make out the title by listening hard to the lyrics.
If you closed your eyes and listened to the concert, you’d hear a singer who needs more professional training when it comes to singing with the diaphragm. The fullness in the pretty boy’s voice was missing, and this shortcoming was quite obvious when every last note in the 60-min concert didn’t hit full-tone potential. I actually held my breath whenever Nathan was about to hit a high note. But anyhow, he managed to pull off his highs by screaming them.
The Teenage Icon 2005 winner’s on-stage persona came through and coupled with his charisma, there was no floundering. When it came to dancing, though, he appeared to be trying too hard. Said Issac Tan, 19, “It’s like he watched Justin Timberlake’s grooves on TV yesterday and [was] trying it today.”
The teenager who hadn’t become blasé through fame showed, when he took pictures of the 200-odd audience with his digital camera to “retain memories of them”. On another instance, he asked a boy for his name and simply passed that off as an audience interaction session.
While Nathan went backstage to change into a more casual pink shirt and white pants, 16-year-old Ming Bridges, winner of Teenage Icon 2006, took the stage with an acoustic performance of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On”. It wasn’t enjoyable and instead served as a better excuse for the audience to visit the washroom. Ming didn’t have the right expressions and her tone was bland. In musical terms, she missed out on the staccatos and intonations, and I wished her performance passed sooner. Thankfully, Nathan returned with heavy-beat bar classics that scored best that evening.
On a whole, Nathan had a good mix of fast and slow pieces but somehow the ‘kick’ was missing throughout the concert. It would be a different thing altogether in a Michael Buble concert where you already knew you would go home in awe. But for this “young Michael Buble” as described by Millennium & Copthorne Press, it’s just a matter of time before he learns the ropes and reaches his full potential.
Nathan Hartono’s Debut Album – Let Me Sing! Life, Love and All That Jazz
1. Life Is Good
2. Thinking Of You
3. Look At Us
4. Pure Imagination
All That Jazz
5. My Crush
7. Haven’t We Met
9. I Will / Here There Everywhere (medley)
10. Thinking Of You (Jazz-It-Up Version)
11. Let Me Sing