A taste of Cantopop history at Alan Tam's 40th anniversary concert

Hong Kong singer Alan Tam sang more than 40 of his hits from his 40-year career at his concert here

Cantopop singer Alan Tam said at his 40th-anniversary concert that he is confident he will sing until he is 80.
Cantopop singer Alan Tam said at his 40th-anniversary concert that he is confident he will sing until he is 80.PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT



Singapore Indoor Stadium Last Saturday

Fans who attended veteran singer Alan Tam's 40th anniversary concert must have left disappointed.

Disappointed that despite the Cantopop singer's best efforts to cram more than 40 songs into the three-hour show, there were still fan favourites they did not get to hear.

But who can blame the Hong Kong singer? After all, he has recorded more than 100 solo albums and has been making music for four decades. It would be impossible to exhaust his whole trove of tunes in one show.

But try he did. To please the 7,500-strong, largely baby-boomer audience, he performed many of his hits from the 1980s and 1990s, including songs such as Autumn Romance and Love Of My Life.

In doing so, the audience found themselves unwittingly schooled in the history of Cantopop by "Principal Tam", a nickname often used by the Hong Kong music industry as a show of respect to the singer.

Fittingly, he exuded a distinguished, scholarly air in concert, wearing different types of glasses in the show and changing from one sharp suit to another.

Theatrics, however, were kept to a minimum. The emphasis was on his music and there was nothing to fault there.

No going off-key. No forgetting of lyrics. I would have graded this performance an A-plus if his Mandarin was spot-on as he claimed it would be in a recent interview with this newspaper.

Unfortunately, his Mandarin still carries a heavy Cantonese accent in songs such as Day Dreaming and Tonight's Romance.

There were, however, many high points during the concert, aided by video projections.

When he sang Spring Comes Late, the video backdrop showed a snowy forest that morphed into a scene of springtime blooms. His backup dancers wore plant and flower costumes to match.

For the sensual Cantonese number, Where Are You Now, he donned sunglasses to get into the role of a cool Casanova. In the background, the video projection showed rising flames and six women dancers performed on a raised platform. It might have seemed like a page out of an Aaron Kwok or Show Lo concert playbook, but it worked.

During the show, the 66-year-old thanked people who helped him along in his 40-year music career and said he is confident that he will keep singing until he is 80.

It is, as he sang during the nostalgic number Stage, "The past is the past/let's continue into the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'A taste of Cantopop history'. Subscribe