Artists / Bands, Culture, Events, Indie / Alternative, Live Reviews — April 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Charlie Was Here


Singaporean musician Charlie Lim, who is based in Melbourne, recently returned to the island city as part of his Asian Spring tour, and caused a pretty big wave of excitement in his wake. His last show of the tour took place on 11th April at The Pigeonhole, which also closed local label KittyWu’s ‘Return of the Kitty’ showcase at the book café/ art space. Lim played to a capacity crowd.

The audience, comprised of mostly 20 to 30 year olds, had no qualms about waiting a half hour before Lim and his band took to the performance area. It was as if they already knew his hour-long set would be worth the wait. Playing mostly originals, interspersed with covers as diverse as Erykah Badu and Jeff Buckley, Lim led the young audience on a journey of discovery through the stripped down, improv-driven set.

Supported by bassist Jase Ng, keyboardist Euntaek Kim and drummer Aaron Lee, the 24-year-old brought a fresh approach to the relatively old genres of jazz and soul. This fresh approach might have been the combination of a few things: his enviably dynamic guitar playing, which ranged from delicate notes on the opening of ‘Rust’ to unorthodox rubbing against his torso for effects during an impromptu mid-song jam; his impassioned, bold music direction & performance that had him jumping at the accents, stomping to the beat as well as re-starting a song that he felt needed to be more uptempo; his whimsical use of a vocoder on songs like ‘What Can I Do’, ‘Pedestal’ and Badu’s ‘Bag Lady’, just because “it’s the last show.” Perhaps, it was just his unassuming, geek chic appeal. He introduced a then untitled song by asking the audience to think about which title would suit it better, ‘Bitter’ or ‘Embers’. It was a tough choice considering the song’s dark connotations but somewhat uplifting feel, characteristic of the bespectacled songwriter who cut a stylish silhouette in a buttoned-up polo and slim fit jeans.

If Lim’s perfect combination of velvety vocals, exquisite falsetto and beautiful songwriting on his EP has gotten listeners infatuated, his live performance will make them fall in love. For those who have yet to hear his debut EP, now is a good time. Get a digital copy at to prepare for his upcoming gig this August at The Esplanade.

By Audrey Fenghuang

Audrey Fenghuang is one quarter of rock band The Auditory Effect, and an oddball fascinated by music in the context of pop culture.