Art and Performing Arts Review

Concert Review: Timbre Rock & Roots 2013 (Day 1)

By Zaki JufriEvents - 22 March 2013 2:04 PM | Updated 3:33 PM

Concert Review: Timbre Rock & Roots 2013 (Day 1)

Timbre’s Rock & Roots Festival enters its fourth year with arguably its best edition yet as it presents some of the biggest names in music.

The two-day festival which moved from Marina Promenade to the greens of Fort Canning Park opened with local stalwarts Raw Earth, fronted by Timbre’s creative director and resident bluesman Danny Loong.

The band ripped through a tight 45-minute set of blues and funk numbers and they even brought out 11-year-old singer Miguel Antonio, who has been hailed as the next big thing in music to jam with band. But the highlight of the opening set will be Aussie soul slinger Kara Grainger who is known for her groove-rooted sound and mean slide guitar; her sultry vocal melting hearts and minds, a true delight to see.

And then there was Rufus Wainwright. Always the consummate performer, Wainwright performed an intimate solo set, with him just on a Steinway & Sons grand piano or an acoustic guitar.

Rufus Wainwright performing on stage at Rock & Roots 2013

Rufus Wainwright. Photo: Zaki Jufri (Click on above image to view photo gallery)

The singer immediately showed off his incredible pitch, never missing a note in any of his intricate melodies through songs ‘Martha, ‘Out of The Game’, 'The Maker Makes', 'Hallelujah' and ‘Cigarettes & Milk’. The usually reserved singer was even in a chatty mood on Thursday night and even joked about buying a Hello Kitty guitar in Korea, which he gamely took out and play with.

Also read: Interview with Rufus Wainwright

But the act that the 5,000-strong crowd was waiting for came up next – the 63-year-old lead singer of one of the most legendary bands on the planet, Robert Plant.

With his newest group in tow, The Sensational Space Shifters, a motley crew of collaborators from bands like Strange Sensation, Portishead and Jah Wobble, the old ‘witchdoctor’ is finally in Singapore to take us on a “questionably good time”.

“I’ve been waiting all my life to see him perform here,” gushes Joe William. Clad in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and black jeans, the retired asset manager is joined by a like-minded group of music fans, most of them looking like hippie grandparents than head-banging rockers to see the iconic singer-songwriter.

William adds, “This year’s festival is probably its best edition yet. I thought the year with Bob Dylan was crazy but this year with Robert Plant, Paul Simon and Jimmy Cliff, it’s something else.”

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters performing at Rock & Roots 2013

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters. Photo: Zaki Jufri (Click on above image to view photo gallery)

Right from the get-go it was clear that this performance would be one that avoided being pigeonholed into a specific genre. From the rock ‘n’ roll fervor of opener ‘Heartbreaker’ and psychedelic ‘Tin Pan Alley’ to the folksy ‘Bron Y Aur Stomp’.

Things even took an exotic turn when Gambian musician Juldeh Camara came onstage with the ritti (an African one-stringed fiddle) to add Afro-centric polyrhythmic sounds to the jam onstage.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band, led by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, also known as the First Couple of Guitar brought the first day of the festival to a close; dishing out an almost perfect set of the blues-y rock.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band performing at the Rock & Roots 2013

The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Photo: Zaki Jufri (Click on above image to view photo gallery)

The 11-member band, all of them musical virtuosos in their own right, mesmerized the audience with an impeccable performance. They looked and sometimes sounded more like an improv jazz band rather than a rock/blues act: dueling drummers, a three-piece horn section, backing vocals and not to mention Trucks’ awesome fingerwork on the guitar as well as Tedeschi’s powerful vocal which recalls Janis Joplin.

The band gave the first day of the festival a rousing finish.

Next up for Day 2: Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Cliff and Mike’s Apartment.