London Reviews Singapore Singapore Arts, Theatre.

REVIEW: Gentle Bones 10/6/16


Gentle Bones, aka Joel Tan is just 22 years old, and he’s already managed to have two sold out shows at the Esplanade (when Les Miserables is playing next door!) It’s impressive, to say the least, how many fans he’s garnered over the past 4 years he’s been active since he first released his hit single ‘Until We Die’.

Since that first song, he’s been keeping busy and been through a lot, from National Service to sharing the stage with YouTube sensation Kinna Grannis, to a harrowing experience getting detained in Indonesia at the end of 2015, which resulted in his having to cancel his previously scheduled concert.

Now, he’s back with a vengeance, and tonight’s performance celebrates the release of his newly minted EP ‘Geniuses and Thieves’, which sees him shifting from the moody indie pop of 2015’s self titled EP to a more mature sound, more polished while still touching on his now familiar themes of love and loss. The precursor to all this included a collaboration with Topman Singapore and a series of sessions at various Topman outlets across the island as well.


Opening for Gentle Bones tonight was local indie band .gif (pronounced dot-jif). Their music is markedly different from GB, leaning more towards the electronic and downtempo sound. Playing a very short half hour set, weish and din still managed to get through some great new material off their virgin EP Soma, such as the hypnotic ‘godspeed’, as well as fan favourites like ‘juvenile’ and ‘diatribe’, the latter of which was an absolute joy to watch weish onstage absolutely in her element, creating jungle noises while crooning in her distinctive style, losing herself in the trippy soundscape from din. .gif is going on surprise East Asia tour starting tomorrow in Hong Kong’s Focal Fair, and we wish them all the best.

We then sat through a 20 minute break waiting for Gentle Bones, who finally came on around 9.20pm. With the concert hall packed to the brim with his fans, the energy in the room immediately swelled when he appeared, and the throngs of fangirls (and boys) cheered and screamed. GB took advantage of this, and motioned for everyone to get to their feet and surge to the front, changing the usually polite and restrictive Esplanade seats into a makeshift moshpit of some sort (although it never actually got that wild). GB added on to the energy, opening with Run Tell Daddy off the new EP, with brilliant strobe lights and flashy pizzazz all over.


Setting the tone of the concert, GB explained how the arrival of Geniuses and Thieves heralded a goodbye to his old style of music, and to look forward to an ever evolving sound from him. Of course, that didn’t stop him from playing songs from his first EP as well. Gentle Bones moved on to fan favourite Save Me, continuing to rock the stage and what was basically a singalong session from the audience.

The set then took a dip in tone, switching to the slower, sombre tunes of This Hurts and Elusive, both of which elicited more peals of applause from the audience. Gentle Bones then upped the energy again with Sixty Five, the original song written for last year’s ill-received 1965. Thankfully, the song itself holds up on its own, and is brilliant performed live.


In a surprise move, guest performer Linying came onstage to perform Liar with GB, a new track off Geniuses and Thieves. The audience didn’t seem too familiar with her, but she quickly won her way into their hearts with her strong vocals and great chemistry and stage presence onstage with GB. If you want to listen to more of her, check out ‘Sticky Leaves’  on YouTube. If you happen to be catching tomorrow’s performance, she’ll be playing the opening act instead of .gif, so look forward to that!

GB then played Lost and Shifting Over, creating a more intimate setting by personally taking up an acoustic guitar and playing as well. This culminated in an acoustic version of another fan favourite, Settle Down, which was the cue for the entire hall to whip out their phones and wave the backlight in a moment of absolute peace and joy across the room, and of course, sing along.


GB finished off the set with the lead single, with the same title as his new EP. Geniuses and Thieves left the crowd wild, but still hungry for more, and everyone knows that once you’ve literally been through your entire discography save for the first hit single, you’ll be coming back for an encore, which of course he did. GB ended off with Until We Die, and the entire hall chorused the first verse, before GB took over, the light flashing brilliant one last time illuminating the band, and sang till the last of the applause died down, ending off the night properly and having gone through his entire discography.


Gentle Bones is still very young and performed a high energy show, very much helped by the throngs of screaming and enthusiastic fans. His youth earns him those fans, along with his easy listening music that draws on very current pop trends that almost assure them to be instant hits. His youthful charm and easygoing nature create a very relaxing concert environment, and with the strength of his latest EP, I can’t wait to see him release his first full length album and where he goes next as one of Singapore’s most well known English musicians. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours and of course, for tomorrow’s show! By the way, it’s SOLD OUT.


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