A music blog by TODAY
By Christopher Toh
IT WAS a hot and balmy night on Saturday at Fort Canning. I can’t tell you how much I longed to be in a singlet/shorts/slippers combo that would get me ejected from most clubs here, but no, I was working. And when you’re working you apparently need some sort of dress decorum, I was told before I left the house.
Anyway, headed out to Retrolicious The Gig. And I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from it. Amazingly, I found myself realising that I knew more songs by Debbie Gibson and Rick Astley than I cared to admit. Er, sorry, Johnny Hates Jazz, I only know three of your tunes – and one of them, Turn Back The Clock, only because it was my BMT theme song. But apparently, the crowd only knew the same three songs too, so I was in great company.
Because really, it was Debbie and Rick that we’d all come to see. Debbie, because it’s been yonks since she was last here (sometime in the mid-1990s) and Rick, because he’s just a fun guy onstage. And well, fans just wanna have fun. A lot of them came dressed in ’80s do too, including a bunch of girls dressed in school uniforms (which would have made a nice picture because they were all taking a puff at the time, but for some reason they refused), some ang mohs in weird Euro trash outfits, and of course the Class 95 DJs, who were wearing anything from sports gear to “close eyes-take clothes-wear it-leave house” mode.
Anyway, Debbie comes on, wearing a great top and a slip of a skirt, that’s so short, it would have been a travesty if she didn’t look at fit as she does.
Debbie does her thang onstage singing all those songs we – and by that I mean those of us aged 30 and above – know so well. Shake Your Love,Foolish Beat, Lost In Your Eyes and my personal Debbie fave, Only In My Dreams. And she and the crowd seem to be enjoying themselves.
She also tells on her musical director.
“You know what he said? He comes in an says, ‘You know what this concert is called? Retroliculous! That’s great!’ And I was, ‘No, it’s Retrolicious’.”
“It’s still a great word: Retroliculous” he doth protest.
She also does an encore of Abba’s Dancing Queen, getting the Class DJs to get up on stage and shake their booty. Except for Bobby Tonelli, whom she deems “can’t dance”.
“It’s official – I can’t dance!” he tells me later. “And I got it all on video!” says Joanne Peh, who shot the whole thing. Send me the YouTube link, I tell her.
Rick then comes on and it’s clear from the start that he’s unsure what to make of the dancers onstage. They were crowd favourites to win the dance-off earlier in the evening. Someone near me wonders how this group could win because they had two kids who obviously didn’t know what was going on trying to follow the adults’ steps. But really, here’s how you win dance competitions that require popular vote – include young children, the elderly or pets – works every time.
Anyway, Rick looks like he doesn’t know what to do with them as he singsTogether Forever. So he just lets them do their thing while he does his thing. He gets the crowd on his side with his self-deprecating remarks, like when a guy – a guy, mind you – yells for Rick to take his jacket off. “Take my jacket off? I’m 44. There’s nothing to see.” Or when he sings two slow songs in a row. “I told you: I’m 44, I need the slow songs to catch my breath and slow down the heart rate.”
He then orders for beers on stage. “I see Carlsberg balloons everywhere, but there’s no Carlsberg onstage. There are five guys and two ladies up here. Unless I see five beers and two red wines onstage in the next 15 minutes, we’re all going home.”
He also gives the beers to the crowd, even though a photographer wants one. “You can’t, you’re working. Give it to the lady over there.”
He invites people over to his room. “Mandarin Oriental. Room 501. I have a champagne bath and a Jacuzzi.”
He tells the crowd shout louder. “I’ve been in pubs in Manchester that were louder than this!”
He gets the ladies in the house to bop and jiggle. “Come on! It’s the last song! I want to see some jiggling!”
He makes fun of his dance moves. “Can you believe I did this? I can’t believe I did this.”
He gets people to shout: “Hello Rick’s mum!”
He gets the dancers back up onstage again, only to realise he doesn’t know the steps to follow them after trying unsuccessfully: “I’ll just do the Canoe.”
Meanwhile, backstage, there’s the lovely Rebecca Tan helping a young kid espy what’s going on. While at the other end of the area, some shenanigans are going on. Some people have blagged their way into the area on the pretext that they’re bringing the beers that Rick has requested. Except that Rick’s already received the beers. So who are they? “There’s always somebody,” says the sound manager and all-round nice guy, Craig, who apparently had to stop them from trooping onstage. Security, anyone?
And then with a quick return cameo for Debbie on Never Gonna Give You Up, he’s off the stage and on his way out of there. And so am I. As I stare out the window on the way home, I can’t but think: “Hmm, some char kway teow would be nice right now.” I know, I know. It’s retroliculous, right?