After two years of silence, F1 fever roared back with a vengeance in Singapore as a record-setting 302,000 people descended on the Singapore Grand Prix this past weekend (September 30 to October 2). While the vast majority were there to cheer on their favourite drivers as they scorched their tyres on the slippery street circuit of F1’s only night race, scores of people were also hyped beyond belief for the star-studded entertainment line-up.
Nostalgic hits seemed to be the order of the weekend for the Singapore GP, whether you were there to see TLC sing the anthemic ‘No Scrubs’, Westlife belt ‘You Raise Me Up’ or Wings perform their iconic ‘Sejati’. But there were also plenty of smaller and younger acts and DJs from the region and beyond keeping Marina Bay booming, from Malaysia’s Venopian Solitude to Singapore’s Inch Chua and Sweden’s Seinabo Sey.
NME Asia braved the storms to check out what this year’s Singapore Grand Prix had to offer – here are the best sets we saw.
Sandwiched between the likes of TLC and Westlife on Saturday were English rock veterans Suede. Kicking their set off right as the weekend’s first bout of torrential downpours waned, Brett Anderson and co. took to the packed Wharf Stage for a career-spanning celebration of their music. This included material from their recently released album ‘Autofiction’ – which we rated four stars here at NME – before the rest of the set saw Suede run the gamut of greatest hits with sprightly performances of ‘Trash’, ‘She’s In Fashion’, ‘Pantomime Horse’, ‘15 Again’ and ‘It Starts And Ends With You’.
Anderson kept the crowd on their toes as he hopped on the barricades multiple times to get up close and personal with his adoring fans, even signing someone’s record sleeve along the way. But as energetic as the audience was throughout the set, it was clear they were waiting for Suede’s iconic closer: ‘Beautiful Ones’. With piercing screams and a sea of hands in the air, the audience at the Wharf Stage caught a second wind of enthusiasm, leading a lengthy singalong of the anthem’s seminal “la la la” chants long after the song had ended.
Suede, who were by then dripping in sweat from the humidity, teased before they walked offstage: “Singapore has always sounded so good, maybe we should come back soon.” – Surej Singh
The Kid LAROI
The heavens opened midway through The Kid LAROI’s set, much to the Australian rapper’s relief. “This is a hot take,” he proclaimed, “but I’m so glad it’s raining because it’s so hot!” The 19-year-old pop star born Charlton Howard shed his jacket and a sweater to reveal a shirt declaring “Leave me alone” – but the crowd at the Padang on Sunday couldn’t get enough of him, rocking his tour merch and singing mightily to every word, including unreleased material he’d only been airing live.
The youngest big name the Singapore GP booked this year, the 19-year-old LAROI was gracious and humble, repeatedly thanking his fans for the astronomical trajectory he’s been on in the past two years and even autographing one punter’s sign which he personally handed to her. LAROI was upfront with how he hadn’t known what to expect for his Singapore debut – whether he’d be playing to his own fans or an audience that didn’t know his music – but gave it his all regardless. He led a chant for his late mentor Juice WRLD, got behind the drumkit at one point and finally closed his set in the pouring rain with the one-two punch of ‘Stay’ and ‘Without You’. A high-energy performance from a rising star. – Karen Gwee
The thunderstorm that lashed Marina Bay on Sunday forced an hour’s delay of the night race, pushing Green Day’s headlining set back accordingly. And all the rain had turned the Padang field into a stinky swamp that drew more than a few comparisons to Glastonbury. But Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool didn’t seem fazed at all, delivering an all-killer-no-filler set, thrilling pyrotechnics and stage theatrics that made us feel like we were getting a taste of the Worthy Farm experience.
Any Green Day fan knows the band have the catalogue and the energy to play for over two hours, easy. But for this tight 60-minute set – Green Day’s second-ever concert in Singapore and first in 12 years – they chose to play the hits, primarily from ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Dookie’. Singapore obliged with raucous singalongs of ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, ‘When I Come Around’, ‘Basket Case’ and more besides. (And yes, the October 2 headliners did play ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, a day after good-naturedly acknowledging the perennial running joke on Instagram).
For their final songs, Green Day went with their nine-minute opus ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and a rendition of ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ by Armstrong on guitar. Flanked by Dirnt and Cool, he bid goodbye to the moshing, muddy masses that’d stuck it out to see their rock heroes live – and farewell to another feverish F1 weekend. – KG