Back in Singapore for a solo gig this time round, French electronic band M83 mesmerised the crowd with a dreamy ‘80s pop sonic expanse and otherworldly neon light performance
"You came out of nowhere, stealing my heart and brain". The first line from Hurry Up We're Dreaming's poppy number Reunion that kickstarted the synth-pop set to a full swing was not exactly applicable for the band itself. Stealing the crowd's heart and brain, M83 certainly did not come out of nowhere. 2,000 concert-goers were put in relentless suspense as they waited at Hard Rock Hotel's The Coliseum. Opened by Singapore's own indie-electronic duo, .gif, Weish's Björk-like chant and Din's sonorous beats took the atmosphere up a notch with darkly lush soundscapes from their latest album, soma. By the pair's last tune, diatribe, people were cheering and raising their plastic cups in approval of Weish's incredible monkey-mimicking screech. After a 30-minute interval, M83 finally took to the stage. With a bang, the pitch-dark stage exploded into a galaxy of neon hues with the entrance of the first beat of Reunion. The five-piece touring version of M83 led by singer and occasional keyboardist Anthony Gonzalez featured lead guitarist Jordan Lawlor (who joined the band at the age of 19 through an online open audition), newcomer keyboardist-songstress Kaela Sinclair, sax star Ian Young, and drummer Loïc Maurin — all decked in head-to-toe black ensembles.
"Good evening, Singapore! We're excited to be here with you guys," Gonzalez belted after the first song. The 18-track set went off into its second number, Do It, Try It, the lead single from their latest record Junk — a true head-bopper for the fans and Lawlor as well as he whipped his curls back and forth throughout. Mellowing down, M83's candy-acid tribute to Steve McQueen in Gonzalez's signature vocal call was next, followed by the Sinclair-led We Own The Sky. The set continued to get the crowd on their feet with tracks from their two latest albums. Powered by an ethereal duet with Sinclair, Bibi the Dog was one of the most interesting numbers of the night — electronic and uncomfortably old-school German digital. Road Blaster was next, with Gonzalez rousing the crowd with a chant of "Singapore! Singapore! Singapore!" — readying them for the show's high point. It was Sinclair's amazing performance of the Tom Cruise-starred sci-fi movie soundtrack Oblivion — not an easy feat to fill Susanne Sundfør's shoes, but she did just that with grandiose fervour.
Midnight City sent fans chanting along with Gonzalez into the night. Sending the crowd into another round of cheer was Lawlor. In the course of Couleurs, he stood up centre stage leading fans to mimic his high-powered claps before going into a drum solo and tossing his drumsticks into the sea of fans.
Designed by award-winning lighting designer Sarah Landau — who has worked with the likes of Grimes, Imagine Dragons and Yeah Yeah Yeahs — the light show brought the whole luscious set into new heights of incredible sensory experience. The punters closed the show with instrumental number Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun. The French musos sent fans home starry-eyed — literally, from the dazzling light performance — and hearts stolen.
M83 performed live in Singapore on May 19 as part of a tour presented by Laneway.