Continued is part 2 of our review of the HSBC Women’s Champion 2016, which will cover the food and entertainment aspects of the tournament. Part 1 can be found here
In the event organizers effort to incorporate a lifestyle aspect into the tournament, for the first time ever, a concert would be held in conjunction with the weekend’s festivities. Legendary British male group, Take That, was a no-brainer given that the majority of the tournament’s attendees were of a western and more mature demographic.
Going into the concert, I didn’t have high expectations given that the band had passed its heyday almost a decade ago. Thankfully, the guys had something to say about that. The Brit-Award winning group pulled out all the stops. Major throwback songs like Rule the World, How Deep is Your Love and Pray amongst many other feel good jives dominated their ‘greatest hits’ set list. It’s not to say that their newer material isn’t good, (in fact the crowd couldn’t stop singing along to These Years and The Flood), but nothing can beat the classical hits by Gary Barlow and boys.
Throughout the show, we saw glimpses of the brilliance that was pre-Robbie Williams Take That when they busted out their moves for anthems like Up all Night, albeit young souls in slightly older bodies. Thankfully, their vocals lasted the entire duration of the 90 mins concert, as we properly entertained by their sweet crooning. At the end, the whole crowd couldn’t help but raise their hands and belt out “Never Forget” in unison with their idols on stage. It was a literal standing ovation, and one that was completely well deserved.
For centennials, their only association with Take That is of Gary Barlow on X-Factor as a judge. But for those at that concert that day, the teenagers from 20 years ago were genuinely euphoric over the masterclass on pop music that made the 90s great. Imagine Justin Bieber, One Direction and 5sos is to a young girl now and you get the picture how much it meant for these concert goers to see their idol in the flesh. As one 35 year old ‘lad’ standing next to me succinctly put it, “That was just awesome!”. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Hopefully, local fans won’t have to wait another 20 years before the trio’s return
Another guest music appearance at this year’s festivities was american EDM artist Jack Novak. Hot off the release of her single, Oceans with Greyson Chance, she performed her own set prior and after the conclusion of Take That headlining act. Relatively new on the scene, Jack’s mixes had some great bass complemented by sick tempo. Her tunes were also probably arranged to fit the more mainstream fans with her infusion of popular music tracks from The Weeknd and Calvin Harris. Unfortunately, our non-clubbing crowd was simply just not that into the performance.
Those watching were either there early in order to get a better viewing position for Take That or stayed after the main set to mingle to background music. What was possibly a terrific standalone act in a ZoukOut setting(she was better than some that came last year) become more of an afterthought. There was even a point when stage hands started moving props from Take That’s performance while she was on the turntable. I can only imagine the ordeal of going through her set with an already sparsely occupied venue, with security guards even chasing out fans who had stayed at the Super Fan Zone.
Demographics is something the event organisers should look out for when deciding on complementary act the next time round. Perhaps, they could have taken some acts from Singjazz that was happening over the same weekend, which would have definitely had better reception.
Overall, the infusion of a entertainment element with the HSBC Women’s Champions was definitely well-received and thoroughly enjoyable. Hopefully, next year’s act will be equally wonderful as this year’s.
HSBC Women’s Champion 2016 also saw a new event added to this year’s already innovative roster- the culinary series. Masterchef Monica Galetti of Le Gavorche fame headlined the dining options on offer. A dedicated food and relaxation area, appropriately named the “Chill Zone”, was situated near the entrance for ease of access. The zone was offered options like Stella Artois Beer Taps, pop-up dining booths from places such as Chef Galetti’s soon-to-be-opened Mere Restaurant and Fairmont’s Prego. I was most excited about Mere’s offerings having heard so much about Monica Galetti’s mastery in the kitchen. (you can still read my interview with her here)
I got the crispy pork with pickled vegetables and pine nut puree, along with a lime cheese cake. The cook on the pork was good and sear on the skin gave it a great cackling texture. This was well contrasted with the sour tang of the pickled vegetable, which prevented the fried protein from being too heavy. The silky smooth pine nut/nut meg puree was a perfect carbohydrate complement for that very same reason. However, the portion was on the smaller side and didn’t really satiate my lunch time hunger pangs. Also, like most “fair food”, the food was slightly overcooked, which can easily be forgiven given the limitations of the kitchen set up.
As for the deconstructed dessert, the weather was less forgiving on it. The heat caused the texture of the cheesecake to become slightly too soft and made the lime syrup way too warm for our liking. Paired with my ice-cool beverage and it went down fine, but consumed alone, it would have been just a tad too sweet.
Generally, after both the eye and taste test, the food was still well above average, especially from an temporary station. With its $10 or less retail price, it definitely gets my seal of approval for being something different and well worth paying for.
Golf isn’t one of those sports most Singaporeans pick up growing up. With the price of country clubs in Singapore, it is understandable. However, as the sports and entertainment community in Singapore continues to mature, HSBC Women’s Champion has aligned itself perfectly with the athletic and lifestyle scene perfectly for years to come. It is also a great sign that for those who had made the effort to come from the mainland to watch the action live, many of them were actually quite knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. Hopefully, with the success of the Asian golfing community, its a sign that Tennis and Soccer has another rival on the block. Can’t wait for next year’s edition that’s for sure.
Take That/Jack Novak images courtesy of IMG
WhatsNext Pictures by Lemuel Low and Lester Foo for WhatsNextSG