I could never belong to you.
“Congratulations to all of you for getting tickets to this very-sold-out show.”
I scoffed, recalling the trouble I had had with the online ticketing system. There were still a few empty seats to my left – where I reckon I could have gotten a better look of the stage down below – but I shall have to believe the emcee for now. I was not particularly mesmerized by the opening act by Choy Ka Fai’s Empiric Woods, but I thought the atmosphere was quite fitting otherwise. Static buzzes, techno-ish beats, abstract visuals painted the white canvases hung at both sides of the Esplanade Concert Hall, bringing a sense of urgency and impatience. Well, that is digital arts for you – not meant to mean a thing to everything and everyone – but eeriely enough, it brought to mind my design studies…
Twenty-nine metres. I was afraid they could have inadvertently left out a zero somewhere, but the distance was just about correct – I was seated 29 metres away from the stage. Or at least, I would prefer to think so.
When the musical duo that was the Kings of Convenience stepped onstage, shyly said a hello, then promptly strapped on their guitars before launching into song, I felt as if I could have done a pirouette right there and then. The adrenaline rush, and the energy – bursting at its seams, it seems.
And I had better believe it.
They were probably playing it safe – the track list for the night was similar to that of their previous gigs.
The memorable night started with the somewhat melancholic Until You Understand, as they usually do; then followed by the more upbeat Love is No Big Truth, and after which I forgot the order of the songs because I was, quite simply, having a ball of a time.
After the third song or so – “I see some of our sponsors are not here tonight – there are five empty seats in the second row here, so those people at the back can come upfront here,” Erlend said, but of course, nobody moved to take up on his offer. “I like people who take opportunities. And if there is a problem, it would not be a big problem.” (or something to that effect) The latecomers eventually arrived to take up their seats at the second row – “Ah, I am late sometimes, too. But do you people really sit there? ... Or – nah, they’re probably just too embarassed.”
Erlend was probably the one given the ardous task to interact with the audience – and I thought he passed the test, although evidently, not with flying colours – or maybe it was just the overly-polite and mostly Asian audience (“Ah, it must be wonderful to hear us tuning our guitars.”) He would swagger and dance with his guitar when he was not singing (and at one point, the wire to his guitar even got tangled/hooked to something), elicit laughter from the audience (“My t-shirt is too small!”), and quite generally, work us all up enough to enjoy the show.
We had the chance to sing along to Know How (I think!), whistle to Stay Out of Trouble, hum and snap our fingers to a few other of their songs.
“Oh, so Eirik is the best, huh?” he pretended to pout, in reference to a shout from a member of the audience proclaiming her love for his fellow partner. Then there was the banter among the duo, on who is the more optimistic of all – Eirik’s mum, apparently – while Erlend’s mum would just go, “Hmmmmm!”
Actually, Eirik came across as the more quiet and brooding one, even onstage. Oh well, he was probably still recovering from his bout of sore throat he had had last week…
After a short talk about winter back in their hometown (“Pretend you’re in Norway, and there is no sun for months…”), the lights were turned off, the hall enveloped in complete darkness. “And then you will play like this…” They struck the notes wrongly – but knowing them, it had to be a ruse for they then played Homesick beautifully, in the dark.
I have to admit that I nearly squealed out loud when they played one of my favourites – Winning a Battle, Losing the War. But Eirik need not have to introduce that song – not for me anyway, sigh…
“This is a new song…” They played The Boat Behind next, an old ‘new song’ which I hope will be included in their next album (“Winter or spring, summer or fall…”).
After a bit of mathematics (“There are about 1,600 people here, so there must be four or five people celebrating their birthdays today…”), they sang the Norwegian version of the Happy Birthday song to someone up on Circle 3, and I was astonished to hear a few people actually singing along. For a while there, I thought some of the security crew were doing the singing as well, but there were probably some Norwegians loyally following them around in their tour.
Some lucky members of the audience also got to go onstage to dance with Erlend during I’d Rather Dance With You. “Hey, let them up,” shouted Erlend to the security officials. It was a hoot to see them do a merry jig of sorts and holding hands in a circle – but they were later rewarded with hugs from the duo themselves (hmph!).
There was also the obligatory encore, to which they reappeared (quite quickly) to do two songs, which included Little Kids.
In all, most of the material for the night were from their second album, “Riot on an Empty Street” – but the gig was called “Quiet is the New Loud”, which is the name to their first album. Hmm.
But… oh, my. They sounded exactly as they would have been on CD. So, so melodious. If I missed this, I… I…
Really. Who would have known that two guys, with just two guitars and a piano, could have made such beautiful music?
(These people have experienced Kings of Convenience in Singapore – be it at the Concert Hall or at the Electrolab gig: Eyeris. Erna. Ci’en. Jiin. Kellyn.)