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Sunday, September 02, 2007

DANCIN' TO THE SMITHS

The event is called Literati.
It's rather artsy fartsy compared to your usual local indie gig and combines poetry, dance and of course, music.
So about 50 people gathered together at the Substation Theatre to witness a hodge podge of artists in these diverse fields.
There was no moshing...
Zack Yusof of Deserters closed the night with three songs, two of which viz. 24 Hours and Last Chance can be found on the Deserters' wondrous EP, Last Chance. (Go get it!)
This is the third time in a month that I've seen Zack and it was great to hear his execllent songs, stripped down, again. Zack has good control over his voice, doesn't attempt anything too flashy but creates a dreamy mood. He always complains about the experience of playing solo acoustic as "nerve-wrecking" but you wouldn't know it from the effortless ease in which he delivers his first class Britpop-infused music.

Ben Harrison probably best straddles the middle ground between poetry and music as he has often been described as the most literary of our local songwriters. I've known him for so long now I can't believe he's just turned 30... Ben blessed the audience with the fairly newish Dancing to the Smiths and closed with the crowd pleasing Handphones on the Dancefloor which gets funnier and funnier with each succeeding listen. The man has some wit on him. He should publish a book of his lyrics.

Unfortunately for local music fans, Patrick Chng was quite obviously under the weather and had sadly, lost his voice (get well soon, Pat!). I was disappointed as I was hoping to hear some Oddfellows songs - Stand and Stare would have been cool - but instead it became a Typewriter set as Chang Kang more than filled in as a substitute. The duo ran through Beautiful Knows, My Enemy and one other and whilst Chang Kang looked distinctly discomforted by standing in front of a seated audience without guitar or microphone, I though he did well and excelled in the unfamiliar context. Chang Kang mentioned that he first met Pat at the Substation some 16 years ago... has it been that long?

The rest of the night was dedicated to one dance item and three poets. The highlight being Yong Shu Hoong. Now, Shu Hoong and I first met in 1991, when he interviewed me for BigO and our paths have intersected ever so often in the intervening years. Shu Hong is one of the top local poets around and he treated the rapt audience to a dazzling display of rather homespun wordsmithery. The words rolled off his tongue very smoothly and the many giggles and guffaws clearly indicated that the crowd enjoyed every minute of his spoken delivery. Shu Hoong has written three books of poetry viz. Issac, dowhile and Frottage - the latter having earned Shu Hoong the Singapore Literature Prize 2006 (which he shared with Cyril Wong) an achievement he somewhat skewers humorously in a poem which left the crowd in tears...

An unusual event all told (for me anyway) and whilst I tend to be cynical about artsy pretensions, it was good to see local music thrown in the mix. Other than the musicians (and Shu Hoong) I confess I didn't recognise anyone there, which I suppose suggests to me that the potential for the Singapore local scene to grow and grow is not as limited as some people may imagine...


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