Concert review: Jenny Tseng says her late husband lives on in her memory

Veteran Hong Kong singer Jenny Tseng, 62, looking sharp in a white pant suit. -- PHOTO: WANBAO
Veteran Hong Kong singer Jenny Tseng, 62, looking sharp in a white pant suit. -- PHOTO: WANBAO

Jenny Tseng My Exception Singapore 2014

Grand Theatre, Marina Bay Sands/Sunday (Aug 24)

With a career spanning more than 40 years and more than 160 albums to boast of, veteran Hong Kong singer Jenny Tseng has enough songs in her repertoire to last several lifetimes.

But the 62-year-old took a gamble at her concert at Marina Bay Sands over the weekend and sang other singers' hits.

It was Not Jenny Tseng, as the Chinese title of her concert stated.

But perhaps her gamble did not pay off with the almost 2,000 strong baby boomer crowd on Sunday (Aug 24), the second night of her concerts here.

Their response was muted as she belted out 1990s chart-toppers such as Anita Mui's Nu Ren Hua (Flower Woman) and Na Ying's Zheng Fu (Conquer), and more recent hits such as Eason Chan's Hao Jiu Bu Jian (Long Time Never See) and Jay Chou's Hei Se You Mo (Black Humour).

She also took on Whitney Houston's I Want To Dance With Somebody and the Pointer Sisters' Slow Hand, which she re-mixed with a Chinese number, Richie Jen's Xin Tai Ruan (Too Soft Hearted).

Tseng shot to fame in the 1970s, with hits such as Hai Shi Shan Meng (Pledge Of Eternal Love), Hai Shang Hua (Flowers Of Shanghai) and a string of Cantonese drama theme songs.

Yet she chose to perform songs from a different era last night, as she was tired of singing her oldies after 40 years, she said in recent interviews.

Still, her legendary vocals carried off the newer songs effortlessly and her soulful and resplendent voice injected an appealing depth to the tunes.

But she obviously knew what her fans came for.

She told the audience right from the start: "After singing all the non Jenny songs, I will take requests and sing my songs to your hearts' content."

Mid-way through the 100 minutes performance, she again voiced her apprehension when she said she was so worried that no one would clap or the crowd would not like her favourite songs that she chose to sing.

Last night's concert was also markedly different from her past performances. There were no flamboyant costumes nor flashy dancers.

Jenny, sporting a blond head, appeared in a sharp white pant suit and changed only twice into an elegant black dress and a black jeans and a black jacket.

It was also not a full-length concert as she does not want to take on performances longer than 90 minutes these days, saying it's too tiring at her age.

But the consummate performer didn't disappoint with the animated free-flowing banter she is known for.

Like an old friend, she teased, eased and pleased the crowd in a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese.

She readily shared intimate details, such as her love story with Hong Kong gongfu star Alexander Fu Sheng, who died in a car crash at age 29.

She vocalised her feelings for her late husband through Sandy Lam's Zhi Shao Hai You Ni (At Least There Is You), with an animated clip visualising their storied romance.

"Thirty years have passed (since his death), but he has never left me," she said. "He is with me everywhere I go."

Jenny has never remarried after her husband's death in 1983. Two years ago, she finally revealed he is the father of her only child, Melody, who was born four years after his death. Fu Sheng had banked up his sperm and Melody was conceived through artificial insemination.

The sedate crowd only came to life when she sang Su Rui's Mandarin-Hokkien song, whose title translates to Any Empty Wine Bottles For Sale, and when she took requests and performed her hits such as Qiu Ge (autumn song), Yun He (Cloud River) and Hai Shi Shan Meng (Pledge of Eternal Love).

Fans may leave disappointed that she sang so few her crowd pleasers, but it was refreshing to see a veteran try new things. At 62, Jenny never fails to surprise.