Jay Chou concert is pumping and visually exciting, but suffers from sequel syndrome

Can a concert suffer from sequelitis?

A year and a half after the Opus world tour made its way to the Indoor Stadium, Mandopop king Jay Chou was back with Opus 2 Jay 2014 World Tour at the National Stadium on Dec 27.

The first two numbers certainly made a case for it. The volume was pumped up to deafening levels as Chou himself descended onto the stage like some celestial being garbed in glittery silver. And then a riot of colours and movement exploded on stage as Exclamation Point was punctuated with bolts of blue while Dragon Fists swirled about in red.

These were the two opening songs for the first Opus as well and the idea here seemed to be to pummel the memory of that into submission.

And since we are comparing editions, it has to be said that Chou kept his abs hidden from view this time, though he did show us his slick-with-sweat biceps in a sleeveless top.

Thankfully, the assault on the senses let up by the third song, The Final Battle.

Unfortunately, the messy, murky sound never really cleared up. Chou mostly sounded echoey and, at times, he was barely audible. The acoustics were particularly bad during Mr Magic when other singers came on board as some voices were swallowed up completely.

While Chou did not have a new movie out, there was still a short segment of role-playing that felt like a redux of the mini-musical that plugged The Rooftop (2012) previously. It did not work the last time, it did not work this time.

Ultimately, what the more than 30,000 fans were here for were the songs. And whenever Chou launched into a familiar favourite during the almost three-hour-long gig, the reception was thunderous.

Even those who criticise him for essentially putting out the same album over and over again would have to admit that he has a knack for coming up with diverse hits from R&B ballads to fast-paced tongue-twisters.

Chou remarked that he saw many children and some parents in the audience and added: "It shows that my music speaks to fans across a wide age range."

They bellowed along with gusto and cheered when he dedicated Adorable Woman from his debut album, Jay (2000), to "the adorable women of Singapore".

At one or two junctures though, it hardly seemed to matter what Chou was singing. Nunchucks were propelled by an insanely catchy beat and some wicked rhymes and not by his vocals, which one could barely make out.

And during the giddily entertaining track Dizzy Eunuch, he could just as well been spouting gibberish since you had no idea what he was rapping if not for the karaoke-style lyrics displayed on the screens flanking the stage.

Inevitably, the new songs from his just-launched album, Hey, Not Bad, did not pack as much of a punch given that they were not as familiar.

None of this seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of his adoring fans. There was almost a stampede when he made his way into the audience to shake some hands.

The affection was mutual and Chou cherished them as well. He showed his sweet and playful side when he picked three lucky fans and then sang duets with them. When an Indonesian fan professed that she could not sing well, he said encouragingly that neither could he.

The finale song Common Jasmine Orange harked back to the previous tour's closing number. But it seemed particularly apt for the stormy evening as Chou sang: "It rained all night/My love overflows like rain."

It was answered by a flood of love from his fans as well.

bchan@sph.com.sg