Singer-songwriter Tay Kewei back on stage after 7 years

Versatile musician Tay Kewei was in good form at the Esplanade Concert Hall last Friday.
Versatile musician Tay Kewei was in good form at the Esplanade Concert Hall last Friday.PHOTO: CROSS RATIO ENTERTAINMENT

Songwriter Tay Kewei wows fans, singing in four languages and playing four instruments

REVIEW / CONCERT

TAY KEWEI "CHI" CONCERT

Esplanade Concert Hall/Last Friday

Local singer-songwriter Tay Kewei finally got to scratch her seven-year itch.

Her last ticketed show was at the 250-seater Esplanade Recital Hall in 2009 and this time round, she performed for a crowd of more than 750 at the larger Concert Hall venue. The concert organiser released around 900 tickets for the show.

"Chi" means seven in Chinese and she also wrote a song for the occasion, Qi Nian Zhi Yang (Seven- Year Oxygen), a title which puns on seven-year itch in Mandarin.

Sporting strawberry-streaked blonde hair and wearing a white and black body-hugging outfit, she said to her fans: "Music has been my oxygen and it has been a pillar in my life."

This was the introduction to the song, but due to a technical hitch, Tay had to move on to the next number instead.

To her credit, she slipped into the ballad Ke Bu Ke Yi (Can I) without skipping a beat.

Her warm and honeyed vocals were in good form, but the accompanying music sometimes threatened to overwhelm them.

It could have been that she had changed into a comfortable get-up of T-shirt and jeans or maybe because she did not have to compete with the band, but she was at her most relaxed during the acoustic segment.

And it showed in her voice as she covered Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop This Feeling and even sang a snatch of the Korean theme song in the hit drama Descendants Of The Sun, You Are My Everything.

Mostly though, the concert was a showcase for her own material as well as her versatility as an artist. She sang in Mandarin, English, Japanese and Korean and played the erhu, guitar, ukelele and piano.

No wonder she quipped at one point: "I'm a little busy tonight."

Her megawatt smile made it clear that she was happy to be on stage again and her special guests shared in her joy.

Her music teacher father, Tay Soon Dee, played the mellifluous dizi while Kewei played the melancholic erhu on Liu Lian (Recall Fondly); she sang with singeractress Bonnie Loo on Zhuan Shen Wei Xiao (Turn Back & Smile), the title track of Tay's 2014 album; and she duetted with her husband, singer Alfred Sim, on their special song, Yi Ai Wei Hao (Proud Of Love), a title combining Chinese characters from both their names.

When she finally managed to perform the upbeat Qi Nian Zhi Yang towards the end of her two-hour- long gig, her fans waved their lit phones in support. At last, their itch had been scratched as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2016, with the headline 'Busy but happy on stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe