Armed with umbrellas and plastic bags filled with fruits, the row of senior citizens sitting by the stage would’ve looked quite out-of-place at a music festival. But then, MeRadio Rocks the Marina! wasn’t just any other music festival. While Dick Lee’s SingaPOP! concert in August featured homegrown pop talents and mainly appealed to an older audience, MeRadio Rocks was a smaller scale affair that captivated all age groups with artistes both mainstream and indie.
More than 300 people had turned up on Nov 5 to enjoy great local talent spanning decades of local music history. How else can you do justice to the collective musical memory of a country than with the promise of 8 hours of non-stop music from over 25 acts to celebrate 75 years of MediaCorp radio?
Taking the stage at The Promontory @ Marina Bay first were singer-songwriters Seyra, Natalie Hiong and Vanessa Faith. After a highly infectious set where she’d even broken out the harmonica, Vanessa chirped, “Find me online!”
Not to be outdone, veteran rocker and one-time Singapore Idol judge Douglas Oliveiro worked the crowd, performing classic covers of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”.
Seated less than a metre away from me, a lady old enough to be my grandmother fanned herself and fretted impatiently even as her friend assured her it’d be “just a few more minutes”.
Yeo No Lk, 64, and Rose Tay, 76, had come with more than 20 friends – who go back over a decade – all eager to catch a glimpse of 60’s legends Matthew & the Mandarins.
“We met through line dancing back in the day,” explained Rose. “We all loved country music so we used to go all over the island to watch [their] concerts.”
When the country-western outfit finally came on, the spunky seniors gamely greeted them with loud catcalls, before collapsing into a fit of giggles. “I’m 61, going on 16,” Nancy Chan confessed, before getting up and joining her girlfriends in a line dancing formation in time to the sounds coming from not far away.
Fan favourites Jack and Rai must have fed off the energy and excitement from the audience, as they delivered a kick-ass set which included two songs from their debut album In Stores Now.
When it was time for rapper ShiGGa Shay to perform, no one was more excited than Temasek Polytechnic student Wyndee Tan, 17, who found out about the 19-year-old musician through YouTube about a year ago. “He’s very charismatic and he really has a way with the crowd,” she gushed. Turns out she was spot-on, as the artist-cum-music producer got the audience pumped up, even eliciting excited squeals from female fans.
Regulars in the club scene, Shagies turned out to be a hit with the audience, performing covers of current chart-toppers Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Jessie J’s “Price Tag”. And as the sun began to set, indie band West Grand Boulevard tuned their instruments and prepared for their upcoming set. Grabbing hold of the mike confidently, lead singer Bryan Gamboa announced, “This song goes out to all the musicians who played only 2 songs today,” referring to a last-minute decision by the organisers to cut short some of the acts’ sets likely due to time constraints.
When Singapore Idol 3 winner Sezairi Sezali and his band members sauntered onstage, they were instantly met with cheers. No doubt one of the best-known acts on the lineup, the down-to-earth musician very gallantly invited contest runner-up Sylvia Ratonel to join him in a duet titled “A Woman and a Man”. The Freshman, Serene Koong and Tay Ke Wei then filled up the Mandopop quota for the night, performing a few numbers, including a cover of a Stefanie Sun hit “Empty Words” to a crowd that eagerly lapped up their energy, even mouthing along to some of the lyrics.
Fans of The Killers gravitated towards Run Neon Tiger’s set as they played music reminiscent of the American quartet. “I’ve waited all night for [their performance],” said Poh Ying Xin, 19, an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University. “I first saw them play at Baybeats last year and I was instantly in love!”
Photo credits to Samuel Ow (Klix Photography), ShowAvenue and Poh Ying Xin
As always, however, all good things had to come to an end – in this case, with popular rapper Sheikh Haikel, who brought 2 female back-up dancers in white tops and denim shorts, and finished off the day-long concert with an explosive performance.
As the crowd slowly filtered out of the venue, one satisfied concertgoer, Constance Nonis, 45, commented, “I thought I’d be too old to rock out at a place like this, but I really enjoyed myself. There should be more events like this – they keep me young!”