Concert review: Hong Kong veteran diva Paula Tsui hits all the right notes without a sweat

Hong Kong veteran singer Paula Tsui in concert at Resorts World Sentosa on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran singer Paula Tsui in concert at Resorts World Sentosa on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA
Hong Kong veteran Paula Tsui performs at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Aug 1 and 2, 2014. -- BIZ TRENDS MEDIA

PAULA TSUI 2014 LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Resorts World Convention Centre/Saturday

In the pantheon of Canto-pop icons, Paula Tsui Siu Fung occupies a spot right at the top.

Chanteuse, nightingale and diva: all these names have been used to describe her and understandably so.

Her magnificent set of pipes, as low as it is husky, collection of evergreen hits and penchant for eye-popping sartorial confections have helped to seal her position as the big sister nonpareil in the Hong Kong music industry.

Her appeal did not wane even though she took a two-decade break from live performances. She only made a comeback last year with 20 sell-out concerts in Hong Kong.

On Saturday night, more than 5,000 fans packed into The Compass Ballroom in Resorts World Sentosa to see the songstress in action. The organisers Biz Trends Media had added the show after thousands of fans reacted indignantly to news that she was performing at an invitation-only concert on Friday.

The gig was not as elaborate as some of those she held in Hong Kong - she performed 43 consecutive concerts at the Hong Kong Coliseum in 1992 - but it was still a treat.

On a massive stage flanked by three giant video screens, she strutted her stuff accompanied by an eight-piece band, 10-piece string section, six back-up singers and a dozen dancers.

She had five costume changes - each more elaborate than the last - and at the end of 2 1/2 hours, the 65-year-old broke nary a sweat. Respect!

The crowd roared its approval when she appeared on stage at 8.15pm, her long tresses teased out in exaggerated voluminosity and wearing enough bling to make make any socialite's knees go weak.

Her famous hour-shaped figure sheathed in a shimmering skin-coloured mermaid gown, she got things off to a rousing start with one of her most famous hits, The Windy Season.

This was followed by her equally big chart-topper The Long Road.

Hearing her sing, one was reminded why she has lasted 45 years in show business. Her voice was more than just distinctive; it was emotive. When she sang of love and loss and yearning, she made those feelings not just personal but resonant.

It was hard not to be floored by how effortless her singing was. She cocooned the audience in a cloak of mellowness and hit the big notes with neither strain not theatrics.

At one stage, she told the audience that although many of her songs smack of the blues, she actually has a good sense of humour. And she did. In between songs, she flirted and bantered with the audience like a congenial and engaging auntie.

If nostalgia was what the audience came for, they got it by the bucket loads.

Besides her own numbers such as Going With The Flow, Going Against The Flow and Behind The Wedding Gown, she feted them with theme songs of old Cantonese serials (the rousing Into The Fire Mountain from swordfighiting series Luk Siu Fung) to hits by other Cantopop legends such as Roman Tam and Anita Mui,

There was a segment where Tsui - who cut her teeth as a secondary singer in nightclubs - masterfully belted some classic Mandarin torch songs such as Love's Puzzle and Never Ending Love. To show she was no stick in the mud, she even pulled off a catchy Cantonese rap number.

In her signature polka-dotted gown, Tsui closed her show the way she opened it, with a bang. She took requests, launched into Cantonese operatic ditties and cajoled the audience into a mass karaoke session as she sang her hits such as Helpless and On The Road Of Wind And Rain.

There were smiles all round as the crowd streamed out of the Compass Ballroom. The diva serenaded them, and boy, did she do it well.

kimhoh@sph.com.sg

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