Second helping of Peas, please
Impact was packed for the return of the Black Eyes, who rewarded the fans with wit, passion and love
Having sold 75,000 records in Thailand, it was no surprise that America's Black Eyed Peas brought their "Monkey Business" tour here less than a year after their last visit. Nor was it a shock that all 17,000 tickets to the show at Impact Arena sold quickly.
The Peas and their unique, funky tunes, rude lyrics and clever wit got another rousing welcome. In fact it was possibly even bigger this time in appreciation of the improvisation and freshness brought to the stage by the band, led by William James "will.i.am" Adams Jr.
The concert had a unique "Bangkok" rap woven throughout that had the audience in a frenzy, right from the opening songs from the Peas' debut album "Elephunk".
The Latin beat of "Hey Mama" flowed into hip-hop for "Hands Up" and "Dum Diddly". Fans who'd been fuming moments earlier about the horrendous traffic jams caused by the rain were quickly into the funk groove.
Dance tunes segued into a pair of cute love songs, the soulful sound of "Don't Lie" evoking roars every time Fergie - Stacy Ann Ferguson - chimed in.
William asked how many fans were single, how many in love.
Then he told them to make a noise if they were in a lousy relationship, and the cheers brought on "Shut Up", with him and Fergie "arguing" back and forth.
With solo albums forthcoming, the four Peas next performed individually, giving a glimpse of their respective talents.
Fergie sang her new single, "London Bridge", in a deep, hoarse voice that was a surprise given her usual range with the group. But she's a character of conflict, always mixing the powerful with the cute.
Jaime "Taboo" Gomes was wearing a yellow Adidas tracksuit in tribute to His Majesty the King as he showed off some breakdancing and rapping. Allen "apl.de.ap" Pineda pitched in with lyrics in Tagalog, prompting more loud cheers.
Will.i.am played guitar and sang Bob Marley's "No Women, No Cry", making it funky and soulful at the same time, then shifted back to hip-hop with Kelis' "Milkshake" and Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot".
The roller-coaster ride continued as the rhythm quickened for "Pump It" and a clever reworking of Dick Dale's "Misirlou" from the film "Pulp Fiction", then slowed with the anthem-like "Where's the Love?"
The Peas, never shy about speaking out on issues, showed a video clip of Aung San Suu Kyi at the beginning of the concert and kept the freedom-and-peace motif running throughout.
Folks got dancing again with "My Style", and then Fergie strutted onstage in sunglasses, causing further pandemonium, and the band kicked into their current hits "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and "My Humps".
No one was left sitting down.
The show closed with "Let's Get It Started", although the band was sticking closer to the song's original title, "Let's Get Retarded", as they played with the lyrics and percussive sounds, stopping repeatedly to tease the audience.
It was almost like letting the fans down nicely before they had to say goodbye, but to be sure, they completed the tune in grand style, everyone in the place dancing to the very end.
The Peas ended on a completely silly note - blasting the crowd and each other with water guns - before will.i.am added the capper: "We couldn't have picked a better place than here to end the tour. I've been all over Asia, and the most beautiful girls are here in Thailand!"
Green curry and the shoe ho
"Monkey Business"? The new album's name popped up one day when the Peas were surrounded by fans peeking inside their vans, Taboo explained at a backstage meet-and-greet for fans and the press.
They felt like monkeys in the zoo.
The tour itself has been packed with inspiration.
"We take something from every single place," Fergie said. "We're like gypsies, where you take a little bit of everything and put it all in a melting pot."
All four members of the band are doing individual projects, but they're adamant that there's no thought of a break-up.
Fergie's already got a solo single out. Apl.de.ap said he wants to collaborate with more Asian artists. Taboo's going to star in not one, but two, movies.
Will.i.am? He was meeting and greeting elsewhere.
Joey Boy, who warmed up the audience for the Peas, is being repaid in studio contributions. The band are helping out on his new album.
The Peas have scouted out some Bangkok pubs, and Fergie kept an eye out for green curry while Taboo shopped at Mah Boon Krong - he got a pair of transparent sneakers with pink patterns to match his pink mood that day.
"I am a shoe ho!" he said. "I'll tell you what girls like: clean shoes, clean breath and a clean personality!"