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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Wide Awake for post-race gigs

Strong line-up of acts, including Katy Perry, keeps Formula One fans all pumped up long after the track action ends.
The Straits Times - September 25, 2012
By: Melissa Kok
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Wide Awake for post-race gigs Fans of singer Katy Perry lapping up every bit of her concert at the Padang Stage. -- ST PHOTOS: JOYCE FANG

The sexy hip-swaying moves and powerhouse vocals of American pop singer Katy Perry sent Formula One fever into overdrive as she ended the weekend races on an electrifying note, with vroom to spare.

Right after Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel won his second consecutive victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, Perry kept the race theme going with a grand opening on the Padang stage - appearing atop a red race car with a racer's helmet.

The perky 27-year-old singer, clad in a cute black and yellow minidress with a black and white checkered collar and Converse sneakers, kicked off her set with the upbeat Hot N Cold, which must have been how McLaren's F1 driver Lewis Hamilton felt after he started in pole position and retired from the race due to gearbox problems.

Perry's fans were blown away, screaming and waving their hands in the air as she launched into the insidiously catchy Teenage Dream. Some of them had showed up as early as 5pm to secure a good spot at the Padang to watch the performance.

The singer was a livewire on stage, teasing the audience and performing carefully choreographed moves with her group of back-up dancers.

The 50,000-strong audience at the Padang stayed right to the end of her set, watching her perform hits such as Part Of Me, Wide Awake, Peacock and I Kissed A Girl.

One lucky 28-year-old man from the audience even got a chance to go on stage to plant a kiss on Perry's cheek.

By the time, she performed her final song, the feel-good hit California Gurls, while perched atop a moving crane amid giant bursts of confetti, it was clear this F1 finale was grander than last year's.

When American rock band Linkin Park closed the weekend races with their gig at the Padang last year, racegoers left mid-way during their concert, leaving the venue half-filled by the time the gig wrapped up.

Indeed, many racegoers told Life! that they found this year's F1 - which was a sold-out event - had an entertainment line-up that was more appealing and current compared to last year's.

The headliners attracted a total of 135,000 people, with Taiwanese singer Jay Chou on Friday performing to a 35,000-strong audience, American pop-rockers Maroon 5 pulling 50,000 and Perry another 50,000.

Victoria Terkuile, 17, a student at Tanglin Trust school, says: "The line-up this year is better, it's definitely more current. Last year, there was Shakira, this year, it's Katy Perry. You can't compare."

Older music fans also got their retro fix as 1980s pop group Bananarama, Scottish pop duo The Proclaimers and rock band the Pretenders performed around the Marina Bay area.

Mr Michael Roche, executive director of Singapore GP, says: "On the whole, we were pleased with the mix of artists and scheduling, which is ever challenging, interweaving between the increased number of support races and the inherent problems moving the 350 performers around the circuit to staging areas."

Perhaps the Pretenders, which clearly had a much larger fanbase than the 600-capacity Esplanade Outdoor Stage venue allowed, should have been given a larger stage. They also played at the Village Stage in the more exclusive Zone 1.

Events organiser Dexter Wong, 33, says: "I watched them at the Village Stage... It would have been nice to see them play at a bigger venue, but I think packing everyone together in a smaller venue made the atmosphere better."

Even though the concert venues were packed to the gills and the hot and humid weather made it uncomfortable at times, racegoers say that overall, the event was well-managed.

But there were music fans who complained about Saturday night's kerfuffle at the Maroon 5 concert.

Some people who were in the Fanzone, a designated area close to the front of the stage for fans who had queued early for a separate tag, say there was difficulty leaving and re-entering the area.

Mr Edmund Fong, 31, a freelance events organiser, says: "I wonder if they issued too many Fanzone tickets because I had it and I was denied entry. I saw some people arguing with the bouncers, who told them, rather rudely, that it was a full house."

Mr Spencer Chua, 29, a financial adviser, says: "We had the bracelets to enter the Fanzone, but if you left the pit, you couldn't go back in. There were many unhappy people and there was a bit of a scuffle."

But he adds: "Maroon 5 were one of the most awesome concerts I have been to, everyone was jumping and screaming."

Mr Roche says: "As in years past, we again had lessons to learn and operational fine-tuning has already commenced for next year's event."

That aside, most people left on a high note.

Finance executive Tan Yam Han, 27, jokes that she had so much fun screaming at the Maroon 5 and Katy Perry concerts that she has lost her voice. She says: "This year's line-up was damn good. Maybe next year, they can bring in acts such as Girls' Generation or Super Junior... or even Lady Gaga."

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