It seemed like yesterday that The Sam Willows was just a group of bright young things churning out pop covers to an anonymous online audience – but on 22 July 2016, the homegrown quartet played to a 2,500-strong crowd at their first headline gig at Hard Rock Hotel’s The Coliseum, Resorts World Sentosa, and boy was it absolutely insane.
What followed over the next two hours was an incredible set of crowd favourites such as ‘For Love’, ‘All Time High’ and ‘Take Heart’, as well as a jaw-dropping cover of Little Mix’s ‘Secret Love Song’ delivered in all its harmonised glory.
However, what really stood out for us that night was the solo highlights. Don’t get us wrong here; while we love The Sam Willows as a whole, anyone who’s seen their live stages that night would agree that it’s impossible to ignore the charms of each member. How phenomenal was Ben’s goosebumps-inducing spoken word poem? How soulful was Narelle’s rendition of ‘Some They Lie’? How sultry was Sandra’s performance of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Ain’t No Other Man’? How electrifying was Jon with his guitar solo and underrated vocals? See what we mean.
Yet despite their burgeoning popularity, we appreciate how they didn’t just keep the spotlight on themselves. Instead, it was a celebration of local arts and music with Singaporean singer-songwriter Sam Rui and Indonesian acoustic trio The Overtunes opening the show, contemporary dancers and ballerinas joining them onstage for choreographed routines, and lastly, rapper Shigga Shay who made a surprise appearance during ‘Taking All His Time’. Way to go, Willows!
Understandably, it was a sentimental moment for the four-year-old band, who finally realised their dreams of putting out a full record and holding a regional concert tour – a massively successful one, at that. In the midst of boisterous applause and endless cheers, the foursome huddled in an emotional group hug after the encore (and ended up triggering even more waterworks from Narelle, who has already exhausted her tear ducts during ‘Nightlight’.) Not gonna lie, we were so close to getting weepy ourselves.
Our local music scene may be small, but this evening was a lovely reminder of how tight-knit and inclusive the community is towards one another. We also spotted many familiar faces in the crowd, including fellow musicians Nathan Hartono, Gentle Bones and Sezairi who specially swung by to show their support.
Check out who else turned up!
Listen to the crowd sing along, watch the ground literally shake from all that jumping and feel that energy in the air!! I had such a good time watching them perform.. Absolutely talented and dedicated.. Thank you for having me to witness this!! Am so fucking proud of @thesamwillows! My friends are changing pop historyyyyy in +65❤️?✨?? #TakeHeartTourSG
— SEZAIRI (@sezairi) July 23, 2016
— THELIONCITYBOY (@thelioncityboy) July 22, 2016
Not there in person, but he’s always a tweet away!
Shoutout to The Sam Willows who are about to hit the stage for their concert. I suck cuz I’m not there ;( BREAK A LEGZ! @theSamWillows
— Dee Kosh (@TheDeeKosh) July 22, 2016
Last but not least, a mandatory wefie of the #TSWsquad.
Group Selfie Commandment #1: He who has the longest arms, holds the camera and forgoes his flattering angle. • L-R: @girlwhocriedwolf @marxmae #GuyWithLongestArms @thelioncityboy @bellywellyjelly @joalong_ • Top L-R: @garethfernandez @ohhowstrange @itsmecarlad @hirzizulkiflie @tabithanauser @chriskwong.mr • Top Right Corner: Proud father of the Kheng’s (@benjaminkheng and @narellekheng).
Move over, T-Swift – these are the real #SquadGoals right here.
We’re totally feeling the concert withdrawals kicking in now, and if you’re anything like us, why not pick up a copy of our latest August issue and read more about The Sam Willows? Hear ’em talk about their favourite local dishes, go-to Singlish phrases and the most ‘Singaporean’ things they’ve ever done on p.46–47!
Image credits: Aloysius Lim