Nothing lasts forever

Last night’s gig by Guns N’ Roses marked the end of an era.

It was a great gig; the band was tight and everyone pulled out all stops to give their all.

Kudos to Slash, especially – he was holding the act together with his instrumental pieces.

However, Axl Rose’s singing was a stark reminder of how we are all mortal.

His vocals aren’t as good as they used to be – understandably so, because of age and a lifetime of various forms of abuse.

He demonstrated a much more limited vocal range and inconsistent singing quality e.g. songs like “Sweet Child Of Mine” were pitch perfect and performed to almost album-like quality, to the note.

On other songs it was especially apparent that he was masking the decreased ability to reach a certain pitch by slurring his words or taking tonal shortcuts.

I thought this mortality was most ironically epitomised during “November Rain”, when he sang the line “nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain” and “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”:

Mama take this badge from me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

The performance aside, I want to detail some of the experiences for posterity, and also, in case it’s good feedback for anyone who wants to organise a concert:

  1. The drive there was terrible.At one point, the jam along Changi Coast Road got so bad that people started getting out of their cars and running to the venue.

    The organisers have to recognise that the venue has serious transportation limitations.

    First, there are zero public transport options.

    Second, there is only one two-lane road going in:

    My sister and I were joking that LAMC Productions should’ve just should’ve organised a ferry service from Harbourfront to Changi Ferry Terminal.

    With the coastal hook, it would provide gig-goers an alternative mode of transport plus get commuters there in a quicker time and with a more scenic view.

    While stuck in the jam, I also had some time to think about whether we should’ve taken the shuttle bus.

    Because it wasn’t mandatory, taking the shuttle bus wouldn’t have helped.

    So there’s a need to give a larger incentive to get people to take the shuttle bus e.g. disallow parking at the venue, give discounts for early birds, etc.

  2. The gig management itself was terrible.
    • No one collected our tickets at the door, which made me feel like we shouldn’t have bought tickets.
    • For Pen B tickets holders, part of the view was blocked; the organisers had erected some kind of barrier, for reasons I know not.

      If you buy a more expensive VIP or Pen A ticket, you pay more to be closer to the action.

      If you buy a cheaper ticket, you do so with the cognisance that you will be farther from the stage – but your view shouldn’t be blocked.
    • At some point in the night, they closed the token top-up counters (we could only pay using a token, which we had to top-up using cash or credit).

      I had $10 left in my token and the money was non-refundable. So if there weren’t any items with which I could spend the $10, I would’ve been shorted.

      I’m not sure if they had announced beforehand that top-up counters would be closed.

      Even if they did, who would remember/who would want to take a break from music they wanted to listen to, just to top-up their tokens before the counter closed?
    • Last but not least, it seems they didn’t check the tickets.So at a later point in the night, we managed to get into Pen A because no one seemed to care.

      That was the saving grace of the night – but it also made me wonder if I should’ve bought tickets at all…

UPDATE: LAMC Productions’ Ross Knudson breaks down what went wrong at Guns N’ Roses’ show in Singapore.

A luxury we must afford

A Luxury We Must Afford: An Anthology of Singapore Poetry. (PHOTO: Math Paper Press)
A Luxury We Must Afford: An Anthology of Singapore Poetry. (PHOTO: Math Paper Press)

My poem, “Where The Wild Things Are”, is in A Luxury We Must Afford: An Anthology of Singapore Poetry.

The anthology is edited by Christine Chia, Joshua Ip and Cheryl Julia Lee and published by Math Paper Press.

Details of the anthology launch:

Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2017
Time: 6pm to 7pm
Venue: The Chamber at The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429)

Synopsis:
What does the future of Singapore hold?

In 2015, the anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford commemorated 50 years of man-made myth – 50 years of mysteries and ministries, Marxists and memorandums, the Merlion and The Man – and whether the 1969 assertion that “poetry is a luxury we cannot afford” still held true in the 2010s.

Instead of looking back, this companion volume to the first looks forward to everything SG51 and beyond. It is a collection of bold narratives of Singaporeans shaping their own future, a cornucopia of hyper-modern dreams of robots and aliens, yet also tales of muted despair at a future slipping out of touch with the past.

In the face of a fraught, uncertain future, there is no longer any need to debate whether poetry is an unaffordable luxury. In times like these, writers are the ones who must step up and reimagine possibility, speak out for hope and humanity, and inscribe the circumference of our soul. In 2017, poetry is…a luxury we must afford.

Please go for the launch by signing up here.

Read my poem here.

You can also read “Horrowshow”, which appeared in A Luxury We Cannot Afford, here.

Literally Speaking: Where do we teach?

Literally Speaking logo.

Where do we teach?
How does the place in which we teach literary works influence what we teach?

Join me, Matilda Gabrielpillai and Erin Woodford on this panel, as we share our experience of both institutional and non-institutional environments for teaching literature, and debate the possibilities and limitations that such contexts provide.

The session will be moderated by Philip Holden.

Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2016
Time: 7.30pm to 9pm
Venue: The Select Centre (Blk 231 Bain Street, #04-01 Bras Basah Complex, Singapore 180231)
Price: Pay as you wish at the door (suggested contribution $10)

*It’s shoes off at the space, so please dress comfortably!

Register at this link.
Join the Facebook event here.