Veteran singer Pan Mei-chen goes back to basics in concert here

Taiwanese singer Pan Mei-chen's concert here at Resorts World Theatre on Saturday was a toned-down affair. No gimmicks, no elaborate set-up - just her, her instruments and her songs.
Taiwanese singer Pan Mei-chen's concert here at Resorts World Theatre on Saturday was a toned-down affair. No gimmicks, no elaborate set-up - just her, her instruments and her songs.PHOTO: BENSON ANG / FACEBOOK

Taiwanese singer Pan Mei-chen's concert here at Resorts World Theatre on Saturday was a toned-down affair. No gimmicks, no elaborate set-up - just her, her instruments and her songs.

And the 1,400-strong audience - many long-time fans who have stuck by her since the 1980s - loved it.

It was different from her last concert here last year at the same venue- that show resembled a Cirque du Soleil performance at times. It had about 15 back-up dancers doing somersaults and elaborate choreography, as well as a big LED light set-up. Perhaps it was all too much - a handful of more mature members of the audience were seen walking out of the venue halfway through the concert.

Last Saturday, however, the 46-year-old singer went back to basics. She had only seven back-up dancers and most of her performances featured just her and her live band.

The opening number was a rock version of I Once Loved You With All My Heart, one of her earliest hits, with her singing and playing the drums.

Dressed in a black biker-style outfit - complete with leather jacket and tassels, a purple tint in her hair - she was the same androgynous singer that her audience fell in love with more than 25 years ago.

Two subsequent outfits - a white tasselled number and a scarlet pantsuit - were also classic Pan. Between songs, she bantered with the audience: "Have you seen anyone less feminine? I know however I pose, I will not look feminine. But I can look cool."

Her self-depreciating humour and complete ease with herself made her performance feel entirely intimate.

As she sang Norwegian Forest, she brought the audience even closer to her, walking off the stage to shake hands with them.

Singing all of her well-known hits - including I Want A Home and Regrets - she took her audience back in time, yet cheekily reminded them not to see her as a singer of "oldies".

"You must think of me as a newcomer," she said in jest.

During the show, the multi-talented Pan also played the piano and guitar. Tinkling the ivories and addressing the audience while performing I Must Have Been Blind, she sang: "Even when I'm not here beside you / It doesn't mean I don't love you."

Although her image and music style has been the same for decades, Pan kept things fresh by bringing introducing a guest - Polish singer Joanna Moon - who collaborated with her on her 2011 album Eagle&Moon.

Moon, 32, sang covers of English songs, Adele's Rolling In The Deep and Masterpiece by Jessie J, as well as the classic rock ballad Loving You by Cantopop legends Beyond. With Pan, she performed two duets, including the 2011 song I Can Block Death For You, with Pan singing in Mandarin and her in English.

For most fans, the concert's highlight was definitely listening - or re-listening - to Pan sing her the melancholic love songs that made her famous in the first place, and knowing she has not forgotten about her Singapore audience.

Fittingly, she closed the show with a ballad version of the opening number I Once Loved You With All My Heart, singing: "After so many years / We are as far away as the East and the West / But I will forever keep you in my heart."

bang@sph.com.sg