F1 concerts draw biggest audience numbers in 3 years in Singapore
When American rock band Green Day closed out the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022 with a blistering set at the Padang on Sunday, they played to the biggest concert audience in Singapore in three years.
The Padang Stage, the largest of the nine music stages in the Marina Bay Street Circuit, saw massive crowds not seen since the last Singapore Grand Prix in 2019.
The headliners playing the final set there over the three days pulled in huge numbers - 65,000 for Green Day, 60,000 for Irish boy band Westlife on Saturday and 50,000 for American DJ-producer Marshmello on Friday.
Like the editions before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singapore Grand Prix is not just about fast cars and superstar drivers. It is also the largest music event on the local music calendar.
It was a welcome return for music fans starved of large-scale performances, which were halted after the pandemic started in early 2020 and resumed only in recent months after restrictions were eased.
This year's F1 entertainment offerings featured more than 40 artistes from all over the world, including Singapore.
Marshmello and other DJs and producers, including home-grown names such as Eatmepoptart, brought the party to electronic dance music fans.
On Friday, veteran Malaysian rockers Wings became the first South-east Asian act to perform on the Padang Stage, thrilling a crowd of 15,000.
Mainstream pop fans sang along to global stars such as Black Eyed Peas, who played two sets, at the Padang on Saturday, and on the smaller Wharf Stage at the other end of the Circuit Park on Sunday.
Evergreen favourites Westlife, whose performance at the F1 was their seventh show in Singapore, had the crowd singing along to songs that have become radio playlist staple since the late 1990s.
The rain on Saturday and Sunday did little to dampen the mood of concertgoers. They braved muddy grounds and stood in line for drinks, merchandise and F&B offerings that range from hot dogs to briyani.
On Sunday, despite the heavy downpour, fans danced and sang along to Australian singer-rapper The Kid Laroi at the Padang and Black Eyed Peas' Wharf Stage performance. The rain on Saturday delayed slightly American R&B stars TLC's set on the Wharf Stage.
Green Day's high-energy set was much welcomed by their fans. The band had previously cancelled two gigs here - in 2020 and 2021 - due to the pandemic.
For Ms Sharmeena Sathasivam, the band's set was special because she had been waiting almost three decades to see them perform live. She paid $208 for a Zone 4 Walkabout ticket, which gave her access to the Padang Stage.
"I've been a Green Day fan since I was 10 years old," said the 39-year-old sales manager, who added that their 1994 hit Basket Case is her favourite song. She missed the band's previous Singapore show in 2010 because she was travelling.
Ms Sathasivam and her five friends booked two rooms at the Robertson Quay Hotel on Sunday just so that they could be near the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
While many of the music stars in this year's line-up were established acts who made their name in the 1990s and early 2000s, it also included rising musicians.
At 19, The Kid Laroi was the youngest artiste to headline the Padang Stage this year, and he had many fans from the same age group jumping up and down in front of the stage.
"I think the line-up is very diverse and caters to a lot of tastes," said first-time F1 attendee Qadhin Ahmad, 29, who works in logistics. "There's a mix of old-school, rock and rap."
Mr Agrim Singh, however, said he prefers the "stronger" range of popular and contemporary headliners at previous Singapore Grand Prix races. "I think the headline acts this year are decent but not what I expected, given the two-year absence," said the co-founder of a Web3 company.
Then there are those, like Ms Mary-Ann Teo, who are not F1 fans, but bought tickets just for the music. She paid $288 for a Premier Walkabout ticket to watch British alternative rock band Suede perform on the Wharf Stage on Saturday.
"I had to see them because I don't know when I can see them again. The last time I saw Suede was three years ago in London. And I had tickets to see them in Phuket in 2020 but had to cancel the trip because travelling had become difficult by then," said the 48-year-old part-time lecturer, who also saw American R&B duo TLC perform on the same stage before Suede's set.
Ms Teo did not watch the action at the race track at all. "I wouldn't know what's going on with the race."