Re­mem­ber the time

The Retro­li­cious con­cert in Singapore def­i­nitely rolled back the years for 1980s pop fans.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By WIL­LIAM K.C. KEE

The Retro­li­cious con­cert in Singapore def­i­nitely rolled back the years for 1980s pop fans.

IN the 1980s, as a young teenager in a small town in Pe­nang, where life was hun­drum, I hap­pened to stum­ble upon the mu­sic of Deb­bie Gib­son and Rick Ast­ley. I bought cas­sette tapes (yes, there was such a thing) of their mu­sic and liked their songs at first lis­ten.

Af­ter school each day, I would rush home (even back then, I didn’t have much of a so­cial life) to play and re­play their mu­sic. I could es­pe­cially re­late to Gib­son as she was four years older than me. I was in awe that at 17, the Amer­i­can song­writer-singer had ac­com­plished so many chart-top­ping hits.

So when I heard that Gib­son and Ast­ley – along with Johnny Hates Jazz – were headed to Singapore for a con­cert aptly ti­tled Retro­li­cious on Oct 9, I thought I’d died and gone to 1980s mu­sic heaven.

On that warm and balmy evening, I showed up at Fort Can­ning for the con­cert, which was packed to full ca­pac­ity (7,000 fans). A quick glance at the crowd re­vealed mostly folks over the age of 30. Some came in 1980sin­spired gear, in­clud­ing a woman who donned a Madonna-ish bri­dal veil.

The con­cert, pro­duced by Run­ning Into The Sun, was in con­junc­tion with the 20th an­niver­sary of Class 95FM. As such, dee­jays from the Sin­ga­porean English ra­dio sta­tion – in­clud­ing Mark Van Cuylen­berg (bet­ter known as “The Fly­ing Dutch­man”), Jean Danker, Glenn Ong, Ver­netta Lopez and Bobby Tonelli – were at the event to en­ter­tain the crowd be­fore the con­cert started, and in be­tween sets. To their credit, they did a good job, sport­ingly garbed in silly retro out­fits.

Af­ter 40 min­utes of wait­ing, the con­cert fi­nally started, with the first act be­ing Johnny Hates Jazz. For the unini­ti­ated, Johnny Hates Jazz – touted as an English New Ro­man­tic band – was formed in 1986 by Clark Datch­ler (vo­cals, key­boards, gui­tar), Calvin Hayes (key­boards, drums) and Mike Noc­ito (bass).

In April of 1987, they saw in­ter­na­tional suc­cess with their sin­gle Shat­tered Dreams fol­lowed by Turn Back The Clock. These two hits were per­formed that evening, much to ev­ery­one’s plea­sure. What didn’t move the au­di­ence was the in­sis­tence of Datch­ler, 46, Hayes, 48 and Noc­ito, 50, to per­form new songs from their up­com­ing al­bum.

“Get with the pro­gramme,” shouted a clearly dis­pleased un­cle in front of me. “This con­cert is called Retro­li­cious!”

As Johnny Hates Jazz ex­ited the stage to po­lite ap­plause, it was an­nounced that Deb­bie Gib­son was com­ing on next.

Sud­denly, I couldn’t help but feel like the sec­ondary school­boy again, rush­ing home to lis­ten to her mu­sic. Only this time, Gib­son was in the flesh, and, oh my, how she has grown up.

The blonde singer, now 40, looked fab in a sleeve­less blouse and a barely-there skirt to flaunt her toned legs. Her makeup was a lit­tle too heavy for my lik­ing, but hey, she rocked her look with a long sparkling neck­lace.

Un­like Johnny Hates Jazz, Gib­son didn’t shove new ma­te­rial down the au­di­ence’s throats (though she has two new al­bums com­ing up). She was aware that the night’s theme was Retro­li­cious, or rather, as one of her band mem­bers called it, Retrolicu­lous.

She im­me­di­ately swung into ac­tion with Shake Your Love, which has the most in­nate yet catchy cho­rus. From the be­gin­ning to the end of her set, Gib­son seemed de­ter­mined to have fun and her glee was in­fec­tious, bring­ing the au­di­ence on a fun trip down me­mory lane.

At one point, she took off her heels as she wanted to dance. She per­formed Elec­tric Youth, and did the ex­act same moves as in her mu­sic video all those years ago. Gib­son slowed things down with Fool­ish Beat (her first No.1 song) and Lost In Your Eyes. For the lat­ter, the au­di­ence sang along to the bal­lad; Gib­son was so moved, she asked the au­di­ence to re­peat the in­tro­duc­tion. Un­sur­pris­ingly, I knew ev­ery sin­gle word to Gib­son’s songs ... it’s amaz­ing how the brain can re­tain lyrics about 1980s puppy love, and for­get other more im­por­tant facts like your sig­nif­i­cant other’s birth­day.

For her en­core, Gib­son at­tempted a spir­ited ren­di­tion of ABBA’s Danc­ing Queen and asked the Class 95FM dee­jays to join her on stage. As Gib­son took her fi­nal bow, I re­alised I had be­come an even big­ger fan, if that was pos­si­ble (and yes, I am not ashamed).

Last but not least, it was Rick Ast­ley’s turn. If your me­mory of the Bri­tish singer is of the clean-cut boy-next-door who had quirky but cute dance moves, your per­cep­tion could change for­ever af­ter wit­ness­ing him in ac­tion. Sure, he still had a boy­ish qual­ity at 44, but Ast­ley was any­thing but whole­some on stage.

Open­ing his set with To­gether For­ever, Ast­ley then spent time flirt­ing with women in the au­di­ence, want­ing to see “jig­gling and bounc­ing”. “I know you are older, but come on, you still have it!” He sug­ges­tively ca­ressed his thighs a few times and is­sued an open in­vi­ta­tion to his ho­tel room.

“Man­darin Ori­en­tal. Room 501. I have a cham­pagne bath and a Jacuzzi. It’s bub­bly, if you know what I mean.”

At one point, he mas­saged the shoul­ders of the two back up fe­male singers.

He then or­ders beers on stage. “I see Carls­berg bal­loons ev­ery­where, but there’s no Carls­berg on stage. There are five guys and two ladies up here. Un­less I see five beers and two red wines on stage in the next 15 min­utes, we’re all go­ing home.” He got his wish as al­co­hol was brought to him, and Ast­ley pro­ceeded to drink beer through­out his set. (Bear in mind, some par­ents brought their kids along for the con­cert.)

Sweat­ing and com­plain­ing about the heat, Ast­ley asked his band re­peat­edly, “What the hell are we do­ing next?” in re­gards to his song se­quence. He might have meant to be self-dep­re­cat­ing and cheeky, but I didn’t find it en­dear­ing. Gib­son, for in­stance, didn’t have to re­sort to such an­tics to win over the au­di­ence.

How­ever, there is no doubt Ast­ley’s voice was still in top form, ex­actly the way you re­mem­bered it, deep and husky and swoon­wor­thy. I im­mensely en­joyed ren­di­tions of his past hits

and Even his new song was a good ef­fort. He closed the night with with a sur­prise cameo by Gib­son.

Over­all, the event was a suc­cess, in terms of turnout, and thanks to a stel­lar show by Gib­son (okay, so I am bi­ased), Retro­li­cious lived up to its moniker. Can’t wait to see who they bring next year ... Tif­fany, are you out there?

Stel­lar: Deb­bie Gib­son wore a barely-there skirt that flaunted her toned legs. She looks fab­u­lous at 40.

Top form: The still-boy­ish Rick Ast­ley per­formed sev­eral of his past hits.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.