What's the best way to get over a 13 hour red eye flight to South-East Asia and the ensuing jetlag?
Well, dear reader, you may take your pick from this list I have complied and decide at your leisure...
1. Watching one of the most exhilarating F1 races of the season in a HUGE thunderstorm…
2. Shaking your booty to some classics in one of the luxury suites…
3. Valet to the hotel, cheeky dip in the rooftop swimming pool and straight out into town for some Singapore noodles and a few tiger beers…
4. All you can eat breakfast, including Malay, Continental, English and American.
5. The sites and sounds of one of the most beautiful cities on earth, Singapore.
How about all five! Yes thats right, all five at once.
Guaranteed to blow that Jetlag and fatigue right out of the water. ‘How’d you get so lucky?’ I hear you ask. Funny you should ask...
Earlier this year, we were emailed by our lovely manager, Jess and told of a mysterious client out in the Far East who wanted us for their wedding. My ears pricked up of course. I’ve never been to the Far East and boy, did I want to go to Singapore.
My grandparents had worked in the colonial service and they’d called the island home in the early 60’s when my mum was a child. She remembers it fondly and she’ll regail you with the stories of the monsoons, ‘like standing under a hot shower’.
A few weeks passed and I forgot all about it, until we got another email which was no longer - ‘Singapore - Enquiry’ but ‘Singapore - CONFIRMED’ in capitals. You can understand me cracking out a few seconds of my happy dance on the tube, right?
But then I read the email properly: Address - F1 Pit Building, Singapore.
My dance nearly turned into a faint. I checked the dates of the race and there it was - 15th to the 17th of September, Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Now I’m quite the romantic, but even I had trouble imagining the logistics of getting married at a Formula 1 race. I phoned Jess.
"Are we playing for someone’s wedding because I’m not sure how that’ll work…"
"No, dear", she said in a way that suggested she was glad she was the band manager, "It’s for the actual race."
"Oh sweet! I mean I’ve heard of people getting married at basket ball games and that does seem a little OTT doesn’t it."
This was in May, the start of the wedding season and our flight out to Singapore wasn’t until the 13th of September. The wait began, ticking off the weekends until we were finally able to get on the train to Heathrow. It became the hot topic of conversation at every gig... what were we going to see while we were there? "Did you hear about the boat on top of the hotel?" "What in Gods name do you mean, a boat on top of a hotel?" "Yeah, and they’ve also got those metal trees and a famous orangutan in the zoo". Like five year olds waiting for Christmas, the anticipation was unbearable.
Finally the day came to board the plane. The four of us settled into our Singapore Airline seats and tried to sleep through the drone of engine noise until finally, as we flew straight into sunrise, we saw the Malaysian Peninsula in front of us. The fast flowing waters of the strait of Malacca below. The dense jungle a deep royal green, covered in the hot haze of late summer. Stepping out into the humidity of the day was like a shot in the arm. A new place, a hot climate, an adventure waiting for us. 2 hours sleep? No problem, bring it on!
We were picked up by our Artist Liaison, Nat who got us swiftly to the taxi to our hotel. The route took us right over the pit lane where we’d be playing in just 24 hours time. The sight was breath taking, the boat, majestic in the air. The water in the bay, glistening in the evening sun. The Super Trees standing tall and proud over the gardens, filled with the vibrant colours of local flowers; any city in the world would be proud to call this place their own.
It was dark by the time we got to the hotel and we wasted no time in getting to the pool and thats when it finally hit us, looking up at the starry sky whilst the city buzzed far below. Best job in the world? You bet!
In the morning, we loaded up on the aforementioned, mammoth breakfast (championship points go to Luke who managed to demolish five courses in one sitting) and then we were whisked off to the venue. Security was tight but the process was made cheery and quick by the great staff and a carnival atmosphere; only 2pm on the first day and already the place was geared up for a huge party!
We got into the dressing room and met a huge cast of characters from all over the globe. Brazilian Samba Bands with carnival dancers, British beat boxers, American marching troops, an Indie Rock outfit from New York, a singaporean magician and a Welsh mind-reader who could tell us what number on a dice we had just rolled without you even saying a word.
After a quick hello to the other performers we were performing our first show. 15 minute shows in different suites in the pit lane, high energy, crowd participation, laughs, giggles, flirting, anything goes - in, sing and you’re out again while their crying out for more.
First Client? Ferrari. No Pressure… We entered the room to an announcement from the rooms MC and a polite trickle of applause. "Right boys, time to show them what we’ve got". We hit them with our opener - James Browns 'I Feel Good', the most recognisable five notes in pop music and instantly the room lifted. Toes start tapping, smiles spread. 'They’re warming up', I thought and so I move in for a couple of cheeky dance moves.
Now, I’m not a dancer, dear reader. But I give as good a wiggle as any Yorkshire man can! Seeing someone make a bit of a fool of himself is quite disarming even for the most serious of situations and soon, despite the fancy atmosphere; the canapés, the champagne, the table service, people are out of their seats and dancing along.
Then comes the big Sax solo. Enter Ash - our very own Sri Lankan Tiger. He rips into the 8 bar blues like a man possessed, ripping up those runs and hitting the licks like his horn is on fire! Suddenly, despite the air con, its getting hot in the suit. Break it down in the third verse and cool it off before launching back into the final chorus and the big finish.
That trickle has become a shower and now everyone's involved. Pencil Full Of Lead, a fun and furious number by Paulo Nutini comes next. Some people break out in some dancing, theres even a group of lads at the back singing along with the chorus "OH BEST OF ALL… I GOT MY BAAAAAABY!!!" all in a brilliant Italian twang.
Next come the classic from The Jungle Book, 'King of the Swingers', known by all ages, loved by everyone (except teenagers), the sing along of singalongs. Not complete, of course, without the huge scat section near the end, performed in full by yours truly, because I knew the words to it before i even joined the band. I LOVE my Disney! A few well timed moves to get the giggles going again and the finish brings home a huge round of applause.
Time to finish off with the big one - 'Kiss', by Prince. Starts off easy enough. I invite a girl to dance with me in the middle of the sizeable dancing circle we’ve got going on, and a serenade ensues. Everyone starts clapping along, and as the verse ends everyone erupts in the chorus of "You don’t have to be rich…." Second verse and a new partner is chosen. More playful dancing and a few whistles later, Ash comes back with another huge solo, tearing down the house!
The dancing circle gets more crowded and Ash gets given a chair to stand on for his last few moments bringing out a huge cheer! The final hit comes and theres rapturous applause. Mission Accomplished. 15 minutes up, onto the next party!
And so it continued, playing our fun repertoire and for the ever-fresh audiences, made for one of the most exciting shows we’ve ever played. We were lucky enough to play for some huge clients including Red Bull, Williams, Mercedes, Singapore Airlines, Raffles, McLaren and more. If we played for you then thank you so much for being such great fun!
When I decided to be a musician at age 18, I never really imagined that this would end up being my job, but somehow it is, and I couldn’t have been more grateful and, honestly a bit blown away. We were treated so well by our client and received so generously by our audiences, it was so much more of a pleasure than we could have even hoped for. We’ve all got our sights on South East Asia for a holiday soon, but we’re also hoping for another email in May next year which reads ‘Singapore - Enquiry’ My answer will be an emphatic YES.
Jet Lag? What Jet Lag?