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Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Strings and Serenades: Corrinne May in Concert"

Photo with Corrinne May
Ah, my first Corrinne May concert! She truly has a beautiful voice, and it sounds even better when heard "live". The concert was held at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre. It was to kick off NUS' slightly-more-than-a-month-long Arts Festival.

The SBS Transit bus from the interchange to the venue was packed with attendees. It was quite funny, because we were all jammed on the bus, and at the second bus stop, everybody just got off. I think the driver must've been bewildered.

In spite of planning to arrive early, I and my friend arrived five minutes after! But unlike The Esplanade, the UCC is more gracious about delays. In fact, the concert started about 10 minutes after its scheduled time of 7:30pm. Corrinne May, dressed in a red shoulder-baring evening gown, walked across the stage to the grand piano, to rapturous applause. She was accompanied by two guitarists (one bass, one normal), a drummer, a percussionist, eight-piece string band (who were NUS students) (I think there were six violinists and two cellists) and the keyboard/conductor, her husband, Kavin Hoo.

Here's a rundown of her playlist. It's not complete nor in the correct order (mostly) because my memory has failed me. Note to self: bring pen and paper next time.

(Song links lead to iTunes Music Store.)

Open with:
"Mr. Beasley"
I think this is her favourite song. Mr Beasley is supposed to represent the love of her life.

She then introduced the band, naming each and every member, including the students.

She talked about performing at the "Make A Wish Foundation" with a 14-year-old patient. (The Foundation supports terminally ill children.) When asked what his wish was, he said he wanted the latest cellphone!
"Angel In Disguise"

Her next song was inspired by the cartoon, "Powerpuff Girls". She also mentioned that in Florida, a school teacher uses her songs to teach music to his elementary school children. He records their performances, including this one that has both boys and girls singing about being a superheroine!
"Little Superhero Girl"
And she smiled widely when she came to the lyric, "Singapore".

She thanked the audience for attending on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, or "chap goh meh". Someone in the audience said that it was "worth it!" She asked if anyone still followed the tradition of throwing oranges into rivers and ponds "or Macritchie Reservoir" to find a suitor. Another person asked if she did. She laughed and said no. Then she said that the moon was supposed to be the brightest on this night. It was her corny intro to her next song.
"Same Side of The Moon"

She then sang a new song for all of the Eeyores (Winnie the Pooh reference) of the world, i.e. those who are lonely and down-in-the-dumps.

She mentioned how she always felt sad when flying from Singapore back to Los Angeles, where her home is now.
"Fly Away"

The next two songs were done with her playing the guitar.

Her next song had been covered by her friend, local singer Tanya Chua, who was also in the audience.
"Something About You"

She sang another song on guitar, but I forgot what it was. Then it was back to the piano.

She talked about how, in Warner Brothers cartoons, there would be a little angel and little devil sitting on the character's shoulders, making him choose which side to follow. In the end, it was always about choosing the correct path. This led to her next song, another new one.
She fumbled during this song because she started on the wrong note -- literally. Halfway into the first verse, she stopped and said that it was too low. She conversed with her husband about it. "It's in F? Really?" Press piano keys. "Oh yeah!" Audience laughs and claps.

She once had a bad shopping experience and returned home very angry at the sales person. Her husband comforted her with a hug, and she was inspired to write the next song.
"Safe In A Crazy World"

Driving in Los Angeles can be crazy, what with drivers speeding and cutting in. She suspected that it was the same situation in Singapore. The title of her next song was her advice to all drivers.
"Let It Go"

She asked if anyone had gone for the "Singapore Idol" auditions. She didn't go to the venue, but thought that she could've walked down the line, singing her next song.
"Everything In Its Time"

Her next song was for an uncle, who was celebrating his birthday that night. And she also dedicated to anyone else who was celebrating his/her birthday.
"The Birthday Song"

The night was coming to an end. She thanked the organisers, which made her feel like she was giving a speech at the Grammy Awards.
"Save Me"

And then she thanked the audience.
"If I Kissed You"

She left the stage, but of course, she wasn't done yet. To howls of "encore!", she peeked from behind the curtains, then stepped back into the light and to the piano. She sang two more songs, but I forgot what was her closing song.

She talked about being marvelled by how small things can lead to something big and powerful, like a tiny seed into a gigantic tree. This led to another new song.
"Beautiful Seed"

And that was it. Two hours of beautiful music! Needless to say, the audience was extremely thankful and appreciative. The only negative thing I thought was that she could've had more rehearsals. Before and after every song, she would fiddle with her earpiece and wire. With a giant video screen above, those fiddlings couldn't be missed. And she seemed unsure about how things were supposed to go, e.g. when she was switching from piano to guitar.

Interestingly, about midway through the concert, she did a tune check with her band, i.e. pressed a piano key and everyone checked their instruments. Like an orchestra warm-up.

Before one song, she also thanked her parents, parents-in-law and brother-in-law (her in-laws are from Seremban) for attending.

After that, she had an autograph session. The queue was long and by the time I got out, I was near the tail end. It took two hours of queueing for me to reach her. But it was worth it. She autographed the booklets of her CDs that I own and I got a photo with her. I thought of asking her to autograph a poster too (there was a stack of posters), but decided against it because I know that it would just end up collecting dust.

So that was it. A good ending to a good weekend.


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1 comment:

diane said...

Hey Yuhui,
Ya very meticulous, thank you!
Actually I've the opposite view of her fiddling and key note-song confusion. I felt that it made the concert more raw like in an imperfect way. She ran the show like a professional. Perhaps if she jammed the piano keys like Jamie Cullum on a live-concert high, then I may feel a little negative or taken back. :P

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