On 18 June 2011 I attended Wanfang Lin’s concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. It was the first time I attended any musical performance in Mandarin. I must say it was pretty awesome. It was so awesome that I decided to write this review, which is rather unusual because I usually cannot be bothered about chasing the latest trends in popular music.
Wanfang is a music industry veteran who released her first album in 1990. It has been 21 years since then, but her career is still going strong. Her songs have become staples for wannabe artistes and karaoke practitioners. In fact the last time I checked, one of her most famous songs ‘新不了情’ is a top ten karaoke song at local KTV joints. It has also been covered endlessly by other artistes, which you can easily find MVs of on Youtube.
I wasn’t sure of what kind of turnout the concert would have. Most of the younger generation are not familiar with her music. Not surprisingly the audience seemed to be made up of people in their early 30s and 40s. Personally, I think I was one of the youngest people in the audience. Anyone else there younger than me? You people really appreciate good stuff.
The opening song was ‘心像凌晨四點的天的藍‘, which is one of her yet to be unreleased songs. This song has a rather jazzy feel. I’m looking forward to the next release, which will hopefully contain this song. The repertoire was mainly consisting of songs from her album ‘One 芳’ and ‘我们不要伤心了’. It was a pleasant mix of both old and new tunes. I also came across some unfamiliar tunes such as ‘鐵罐咖啡’ and ‘知道不知道’, just to name a few. She performed so many songs, I cannot remember all of them. The vast range of songs was truly impressive. Rather than just playing based on the original scores or compositions, she has chosen to reinterpret some of her own work, resulting in a refreshing outlook.
During the performance there were few mistakes scattered throughout, which purists and perfectionists may have found inexcusable. In fact, there were times when she took control to stop the song and restart it with the correct tone. The poor pianist 阿鸡 was quite sorry about the mistakes, but she was patient and humorous about it. At a certain point she had to rally the band together for a heart to heart talk. As a consummate stage artist, she was able to turn the situation to her advantage.
Somewhere in between she even allocated time for her backup vocalists to present their own songs. Her two guest vocalists were Project Superstar contestant Kelly Poon (潘嘉麗) and indie vocalist Lisa Djaati (谢凌君). Kelly Poon is also under the same record label as Wanfang, Rock Records. Wanfang, as the eldest sister of Taiwanese pop music, seemed to be rather enthusiastic in promoting her juniors in the industry.
Originally Freya (林凡) was slated to accompany the performance but was replaced by Lisa as she had to attend the Golden Melody awards. Lisa is currently involved with her project Nature Morte ( 靜物樂團 ). The song she presented was titled ‘You’re My Dream’ (你是我的梦 ).
I was a bit taken aback that the two guests were allowed to promote their own work during her concert. I wondered if my fellow fans were thinking of this as well. Afterall, I don’t think it is very often that the main artist lets the backup vocalists present their original work. However, the audience was definitely not disappointed at any rate. The entire performance was expected to take up to two hours but lasted for three hours and fifteen minutes, including the encore of almost half an hour. It was a reward for us patient fans. The $148 for the Foyer Stall seats was well worth the money.
At the end of the concert, she had a autograph session. There was a rather long queue but it was worth the wait. It was another first for me, actually queuing up for an autograph though I was all the way at the back.
Throughout the concert, she took great effort to interact with her audience. Even though the concert hall is rather large, she was able to remain intimate with the audience in engaging their interest. She took many opportunities to share with the audience about her life journey, and how she composed certain songs. At some points, she encouraged the audience to sing along. To me, she comes across as very humble and genuine person. In this age of autotuned fabricated pop idols, real talent and sincere personality is rare.
Self-described as ‘怪女生’ (an eccentric girl), perhaps this is the secret ingredient that attracts many of her fans. Myself included.