Wakin brings sunshine to fans

Wakin Chau rocking with guitarist Eric Ng, the only Singaporean in his 10-member backing band.
Wakin Chau rocking with guitarist Eric Ng, the only Singaporean in his 10-member backing band.PHOTO: ROCK RECORDS/UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT

Unlike celebrity blogger Xiaxue who plays his songs in her car and Mrs Goh Chok Tong, the Emeritus Senior Minister's wife who was at his last concert here in 2011 and again last night, I'm not a Wakin Chau fan.

But from the opening bars of Sad Song, a Mandopop version of Cliff Richard's Ocean Deep (1983), it was easy to see why he has faithful fans.

Hong Kong-born, Taipei-based Chau, 54, has a dulcet voice that bathes you in the sentimental glow of a simpler yesterday.

Songs such as Actually Don't Want To Go and a Mandopop version of Phil Collins' You'll Be In My Heart sweep you back in time. The screen visuals teleport you back to sweet 16: playing truant from school, clasping your first cassette tape, dancing with your first crush.

With a doeful smile and tender pipes, he shared songs of loneliness and heartbreak in Standing At The World's Rooftop and How Are You Now? He included a confetti-speckled take in English of the Frozen theme song Let It Go, not as raw as Idina Menzel's but equally aching.



    Singapore Indoor Stadium/ Last Saturday

Named the Heavenly King Killer in the 1990s, he proved he was on a par with Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai in song, stamina and charisma. Not only has he recorded more than 40 albums and charted many hits, this show lasted a solid three hours.

He tickled the crowd by saying that on arrival at the airport, he was shocked at the Singlish on the superfans' T-shirts which read Sing What Song. "The fans asked me why was I laughing and I replied, 'Cannot meh?'", he added to rollicking laughter.

His rapport with fans was warm and fuzzy, giving them virtual hugs and serenading them with about 30 schmaltzy, life-affirming hits, including snatches of TVB theme songs that he grew up singing.

"My fans range in age from the 'born in the 00s and post-1990'," he said in jest as he checked them out on the T-shaped stage with a walkway that reached deep into the 9,000-capacity audience. He also joked about his age - he said he was afraid some of them might have spotted his potbelly under his shirt.

Many fans waved "You Are My Sunshine" banners and turned the stadium into a starry heaven with their mobile phones. There was palpable excitement throughout the aisles as he turned some of the audience into stars by getting the cameras to zoom in on couples with a "Kiss!" command during the karaoke-friendly chart-topper Love Follows Us.

Chau, who has been married for 29 years to a Causasian American and has two children, is endearingly known for flubbing his lines. This did not happen last Saturday, even when he belted out two songs with classically dense lyrics from his latest album Jiang Hu. It is a 2013 collaboration with Taiwanese writer Chang Ta-chun.

Of course, no Chau concert is complete without song requests. Fans here popped their requests into a ballot box before the show. "It's fairer. Previously I could only hear people shouting in the front rows," Chau quipped cheekily, "or if I didn't know the lyrics, I'd pretend not to hear the request."

He sang five requests and goofed around for the sixth as he claimed he could not remember the lyrics for Who Am I? from his 1993 Flowery Heart album.

Housewife Shelly Wong, 60, who has heard his songs for as long as she can remember, told Life: "I asked for Tomorrow I'm Gonna Marry You, as my husband serenaded me with it. But aiyah, he didn't pick my request."

Indeed Chau's soundscape has turned hazy clouds into lavender fields for many fans, who helped wrap up the show in a giant karaoke session with his monster hits Friends (4.6 million hits on YouTube), Flowery Heart and You Make Me Happy And Sad.

An earlier version of this article described the song Who Am I? as the theme song from the 1998 Jackie Chan movie of the same name. 
But the song requested by a member of the audience last Saturday, which Wakin did not sing, was actually a different song but with the same name. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Wakin brings sunshine to fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe