Tanya Chua's brave, new, exciting world

Singaporean singer-songwriter Tanya Chua at her concert last Saturday.
Singaporean singer-songwriter Tanya Chua at her concert last Saturday.PHOTO: ROCK RECORDS



The Star Theatre/Last Saturday

Meet the new Tanya.

She is no longer just the guitar- welding singer of love ballads. She is daring, adventurous and mysterious. She dances. And she dresses like Lady Gaga.

The 41-year-old Singaporean singer-songwriter broke new ground during her latest concert, which ran for almost three hours and was attended by 3,000 people, including her mother and sister.

In her first full concert here in four years, the three-time Golden Melody Award winner for Best Mandarin Female Singer brought the audience into a dark but exciting world, performing several songs from her latest game-changing album Aphasia (2015).

Opening with Strange Species, she appeared looking almost unrecognisable in a platinum blonde bob wig and black outfit resembling a flower's petals - a look that seemed equal parts Sia and Lady Gaga.

Behind her, a formless swirl of particles shifted and morphed constantly. At times, it resembled a galaxy; at others, sound waves. It was disorienting and impossible to pin down, perhaps deliberately so.

After all, her latest album - from which she also performed Aphasia, Film and Can I Help You Sir? - was about the inability to communicate in today's technology-filled world.

The concert's theme - inspired by the tale of a mystical utopia, a magical land without sickness and violence - was perhaps a hope for human connection in this future world.

While this first segment was the most striking and memorable part of the show, Chua continued to keep things entertaining with a second segment that featured a classic movies theme, for which she donned an elegant Audrey-Hepburn-esque get-up and sung older songs such as Pheromone.

A definite highlight was when she brought on home-grown singer Kit Chan as her special guest and performed the inspirational You Gotta Be as a duet.

Seeing two of Singapore's most highly acclaimed Mandopop exports on the same stage, bantering like sisters, was a treat.

It was a pity though that Chua did not talk about her new romance with French pastry chef Johann Martin, which was reported earlier this year.

Given she had uploaded photos of them together on Instagram, one would have thought the topic would come up.

Towards the show's later half, the audience got to see the familiar sight of Chua strumming her guitar.

She performed fan favourites such as Bottomless Pit and Parabola, and it was heartening to know that as she ventures into new territory, she is still the Tanya her fans know and love.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Tanya Chua's brave, new, exciting world'. Print Edition | Subscribe