Chiang Mai did - and plenty of it - during its annual arts festival, but it didn't put a damper on the acts
Last weekend’s Chiang Mai Festival at Three Kings Monument came to a happy end despite being hit by violent storms. Apparently most of the music fans had tuned in to the weather forecast and knew what to expect, deciding to hang on to their spaces and wait out the rain.
Drizzle continued throughout the show by South African opera-classic pop-crossover male vocal group Il Quinto on the first day but didn’t stop them from performing a full set that included “The Arms That Take Me Home”, “Without You” and “Vincero” from their debut album “Facing a Miracle”.
“Sawasdee Chiang Mai! Sabai Dee Mai,” said Emmanuel Castis by way of greeting as he peered through the rain alongside Dihan Slabbert, Dick Moholane, David Phoshane, and Ferdi Gernandt.
They were followed by the Blue Brothers, the American blues and soul duo, who delighted with “Everybody”, “Shake Your Tail Feather”, “Midnight Hour”, James Brown’s “I Feel Good”, “Gimme Some Loving”, “Soul Man”, “Respect”, “Do You Love Me”, and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” in the same style as the Blues Brothers fronted by the “Saturday Night Live” duo of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the ’80s.
A heavy downpour attacked Garth Tayler’s show, which featured “To Love Somebody”, “Love the Way”, “Home Again”, “Waiting on the World”, “Who I Am”, Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and several other numbers. He carried on as long as he could but was eventually told to come off the stage as there were concerns about electric shocks.
The Neung Jakkawal Band didn’t make it – they were moved to the following day.
The next day dawned bright but the first flashes of lightning could be seen by late afternoon. Local band BadeeBidu managed to complete their set but the second act, Mango Republic, finished just one number before the howling wind and rain drove them off the stage.
Good luck was smiling on the organiser’s side though, as the rain stopped after a couple of hours and the sky cleared. Mango Republic came back on stage to complete its set.
German opera singer Thomas Kiessling was next up and entertained with a mix of Broadway musicals and opera, including “This Is The Moment” from “Jekyll & Hyde”, “I Dreamed A Dream” from “Les Miserables”, “O Mio Babbino Caro” from “Gianni Schicchi” and “Nessun Darma” from “Turadot”.
“We changed some songs because we thought it was better in this way,” he said after the show. “It’s rare Thai audiences get to hear this kind of music. I chose songs I thought they would like. I noticed the Chiang Mai governor [MR Pannada Diskul] was in the audience until the last song, which is very nice.”
Kiessling was heading to Phuket before going back home. “We love the Thai mentality. People are so friendly and open-minded; their love comes from the heart. And I love the food, especially rice with cashew nut. My wife took some cooking lessons and it was really exciting going to the market with the teacher who showed us the vegetables, fruits and herbs.”
The German singer showed his passion for Thai food in Dusit D2 Hotel’s tent, dining on somtam poo pla ra (Isaan salad mixed with salted crab and pickled fish) and larb moo (minced meat with vegetable and chilli).
Later in the evening, Il Quinto, Blues Brothers and Garth Tayler returned to the stage and Neung Jakkawal finally took his turn.
In all, Chiang Mai Fest was a roaring success, playing host to performances from both local and international artists, and attracting an impressive crowd.