Imagine if you'd just arrived on Planet Earth and given tickets to a pop concert of one of your new world's biggest stars? You knew you were going to something special, but you didn't know the artist or understand anything he was singing about...
How do you reckon you'd feel?
We felt like this going to Pongsit Kamphee's concert on Saturday night.
Who? I hear you say!
We tried to do our homework on Pu Pongsit, as he is known but clearly whilst he may be mega big news in Thailand, there is little written about him in English.
We did discover that Pongsit is a much-loved folk rock icon who has been on the Thai music scene for 30 years. Thai people love his powerful storytelling. We could see he brings such passion to his lyrics which are on his thoughts about society, love, loss and life's struggles.
We were delighted to have been offered VIP tickets to his show at Bangkok's aptly named IMPACT Arena and were pretty much the only foreigners. Despite playing his songs all week, we had no idea what to expect. Even when we asked things got a bit muddled...
We listened to many of his songs in the car Sutchi (deep in mind), Thai Thoe Khuen Ma (Take her back), or our favourite Num Noi (Young boy... which was actually translated for us as Baby Boy, which I misheard as Lady Boy ... you see a perfect lost in translation moment. For days I was trying to sing along wondering what on earth this Lady Boy was up to?!
IMPACT Arena holds 11,000 seats, it is the biggest arena in Bangkok and the second biggest in Asia. Pongsit follows Britney Spears and is before Ed Sheeran in the 2017 concert line up. When Coldplay came earlier in the year, they went to Rajamangala National Stadium which held 67,000 fans it was the biggest headline concert for an International Act, Thailand has ever seen. But Pongsit is up there with the best of them, and when we arrived the queue snakes the whole way around the arena.
We failed for a start as no-one told us the Thai pop concert dress code. It was a black, and if possible official Pongsit 30th Anniversary tour T-shirt, and jeans. I have not worn a pair of jeans ever in Bangkok, so in my white Capri trousers, I stood out as the Foreigner who did not get the official team memo. We did manage to get Mr Wren a black bandana. Which is mandatory for the serious fan. The staff at the official merchandise store were so bemused that we wanted one, they gave us a sweaty one off the head of one of the sales guys!
We were so close to the stage, but after a while, I joined the dancing crowd at the front of the stage. Of course, I wanted to get right to the front to get some good photos. I did swim through a pool of Singha beer to get there, but the security team were pretty relaxed. This was so different to other concerts I'd been to.
Once I got to the front, it seemed like a high proportion of the audience here were youngish men. Or may be not, Pongsit is nearly fifty and if his fans have been with him through out his thirty-year career, they probably weren't that young. But what with the lights, the stage smoke and let's face it everyone seems young in Thailand - or maybe just younger than us!
I stayed at the front for a while, but the TV camera's kept filming me, dancing amongst the lads, at first it was quite fun - but then I kept being asked for photos with the crowd. So I gave up before I was on everyone's Facebook page in Bangkok. You know how shy I am!
When I got back to our seats, the crowd were all up on their feets. "Verlllllly good dancing" the girl behind yelled. It appeared I had broken the second rule of the Thai Pop concerts, Don't wear white and Girls stay in their seats to dance, Guys go the stage!
Whoops! I had a nasty feeling I was going to be Farang feature dancer in the Bangkok Post the next day. So I hope you like the photo's, the things I do to get you a good photo!
Despite this issue of not understanding Thai, it was not difficult to be in the zone even without any beer!. The music moves from rock and we're all up dancing, to soulful and the crowd are pictured sobbing, oh gosh I hope that wasn't when I was being filmed for dancing with delight during the meant to be weeping bits?! No, seriously we got it, you could tell, you didn't need to speak Thai, the music was that powerful.
At one point a lady appears on the big LED circular screen which we take was his Mother, she got a rapturous applause, and then he sings we read later a song called 'Mae' (Mother). If we had been in the know we would have been thrilled when the various guests are invited onto the stage, Nga Caravan and Lek Carabao... it really is so weird not having any idea, who everyone is.
Pu Pongsit made such an impact, it was a three-hour performance and just mesmerising. We are so happy that we got to see this legend perform, it was quite some introduction to the Thai music industry. I could have danced all night!