Rocking the F1

Rocking the F1
American singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, popularly known as J.Lo, performing at The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay during her concert on 4 December 2012.

Along with the deafening roar of high-powered cars at the 2014 Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix next weekend will be melodic strains and rhythmic thumps from the various stages across the Marina Bay circuit.

Since the Singapore leg of the F1 race flagged off in 2008, the main stage at the Padang has always hosted the biggest concerts of the year.

Up to 50,000 people are expected to throng the venue on each of the three nights this year on Sept 19, 20 and 21.

Pop music juggernauts rule the big stage - headliner Jennifer Lopez, who plays on Sept 21, has an arsenal of dance-pop hits to her name while singer Robbie Williams, who performs on Sept 20, is one of Britain's most successful pop acts with 14 No. 1 singles.

As is the F1 tradition, the first night is the domain of top regional music acts and this year, Taiwanese rockers Mayday are expected to play a high-energy set on Sept 19.

The music action is not confined to the Padang stage though. In total, about 20 music acts have been lined up this year.

The eight other stages across the circuit park will feature international music acts of different genres, from Jamaican reggae star Ziggy Marley and British synth-pop pioneers Pet Shop Boys to Colombian latin/pop/jazz band The Shock and American bluesman Seasick Steve.

Exciting performers from the local live music scene, such as The Sam Willows, ShiLi & Adi and Fungkimunkees, will be holding their own at the various stages too.

Life! finds out what some of the artists have planned for their F1 sets.

dinohadi@sph.com.sg


PET SHOP BOYS

Where: Zone 1 - Village Stage

When: Sept 20, 8pm

They might be the most established pop act performing at the 2014 Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix but Neil Tennant, one half of British music duo Pet Shop Boys, will have you know that he has little interest in cars.

"I'm famous for knowing nothing about motorcars," he says drily over the telephone from Glasgow, a stop in their current global tour.

"I learnt how to drive only five years ago. Someone once asked me 'What kind of car do you have? And I said, I can't remember.'"

For the record, the 60-year-old drives a Land Rover Freelander. It is the other half of the duo, Chris Lowe, 54, and their tour manager who are big fans of the Grand Prix, he reveals.

Still, Tennant is looking forward to coming back and performing here again.

One of Britain's most successful pop acts, Pet Shop Boys have staged several shows here. The last one was in August last year, when they played to a 5,000-strong crowd at Resorts World Sentosa's Compass Ballroom.

"We like Singapore and it's changed a lot since we first played there in 1994," says Tennant.

"It seems more lively now and there are always new buildings that have gone up every time we go there."

While their biggest and best-known hits such as West End Girls, It's A Sin and What Have I Done to Deserve This? date back to the 1980s, the 33-year-old duo have consistently put out albums that have enjoyed both commercial success and critical acclaim. All their 12 albums are top 10 hits in Britain, including their latest Electric, released last year.

Besides regular global tours - Electric Tour, the latest, is their 10th - Pet Shop Boys have always taken creative risks and regularly venture out of their electronic pop domain.

For example, one of their latest projects was an opera, A Man From The Future, based on the life of British computer science pioneer Alan Turing. It was staged at London's Royal Albert Hall in July and was part of the British Broadcasting Corporation's classical music series The Proms.

Tennant and Lowe also recently made news when they made a cameo playing themselves in the long-time BBC radio soap opera The Archers.

Of their propensity for taking on multiple creative endeavours, Tennant says: "It's creating new stuff, new works, new songs, new shows, crazy things like The Proms, the unexpectedness of what we do.

"It all boils down to going to the studio and me and Chris writing new music that becomes a record and that becomes a new tour."

However, race fans who catch their show here on Sept 20 will get to experience what the duo are best known for: classic and contemporary electronic pop songs set to a fancy costume and light show.

Tennant says: "There are a lot of hits, it's a very exciting show. Since we were here a year ago, we've changed it around a little bit to make sure it moves really, really fast. You won't get a chance to be bored."

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