KOKO Gig Watch

At The Concourse - Me and My Guitar: Zack Yusof

Esplanade Theatre,
Jan 12 & Jan 13

Zack Yusof

Zack Yusof

Lohan and Zack

This instalment of Esplanade's month long “Me and My Guitar” series featured two evenings of stripped down guitar balladry, beguiling cover versions, mumbled stage banter and bone-dry humour from Deserters frontman Zack Yusof. Accompanying Zack on guitar, slide, melodica and backing vocals is the multi-talented N. Rama Lohan, on loan from retro rockers Cats In Love.

For those whom have not been to the concourse area of the Esplanade, it’s above the back entrance and in many ways could be described as the upper lobby. The setting is very cool, spacious and the acoustics simply amazing. The sound really grips the eardrums perfectly and makes for a very intimate music experience.

Having made the trip down to Singapore for the first night of this two-day event, I can safely say that I was not disappointed. Zack was really on form, experimenting with new tracks from the Deserters soon-to-be released debut album ‘Goodbye Oblivion’ and to cap everything off, he even gave us a few blinding covers including the Eighties classic ‘Sweet Dreams’ by The Eurythmics, Teenage Fanclub’s slacker anthem ‘Everything Flows’ and Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night, the latter complete with melodic backing vocals from Lohan that recalled The Everly Brothers.

Besides rolling out the cover versions and the Deserters staples, Zack also revelled in the opportunity to try a mixture of new and long-forgotten original material on the night including tracks such as the country-tinged ‘Chasing Time’, the melancholic ‘Midnight Blues’ as well as a slow-burning belter of a track called ‘Somewhere Down The Line’.

With regards to the Deserters tracks, because this was my first time seeing Zack do an acoustic set, I was intrigued to see as to how tracks like ‘Confusion’ and ‘Ride’ would sound in that format. Let me tell you, spot on, the end result was an upbeat melodic flow that enticed passer bys to sit down, lean forward and listen like nothing else mattered.

I took a few expatriate friends to the gig - both Brits and both into their music - and truth be told, I think they were pleasantly surprised at how good the show turned out to be, in the lyrical department and also the quality of the music composition. As Zack began his third track, my personal favourite Deserters ballad ‘24 Hours’, I eagerly informed my mates that this was a top tune. Several minutes later, the response was ‘sama sama’ (literally translated as “same same” or likewise for non-Malay speaking readers) - they were instant fans! The guys also commented that if the show were held in the UK, then perhaps the event would have had around two three hundred people watching.

So what’s the point? In a nutshell, it’s that original music of this quality should not be missed and that locals and expatriates alike can access a great evening’s entertainment at no cost other than the price of a journey. The Esplanade has many bars and restaurants, amazing waterfront views and a passion for music like our very own When music in Asia is on the verge of something big then its time to get out there and decide for yourself how talented and vibrant the scene really is.

All in all, great evening with great music at great location and plenty of chicken wings that tasted like pork scratchings to go around.

Set Lists: Jan 12


  1. Confusion
  2. Ride
  3. 24 Hours
  4. Talk To Me
  5. Last Chance
  6. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?


  1. Chasing Time
  2. Everything Flows
  3. Midnight Blues
  4. Somewhere Down The Line
  5. The Model
  6. Sweet Dreams



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