Concert review: Mandopop star Wang Leehom delivers a B-grade science fiction musical

Mandopop star Wang Leehom performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, on Jan 5, 2019.
Mandopop star Wang Leehom performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, on Jan 5, 2019.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO



Singapore Indoor Stadium

Last Saturday (Jan 5)

It was not until the eighth song that this felt like a concert with Mandopop star Wang Leehom playing the keyboard and singing the ballad Ni Bu Zai (You're Not Here).

Up till that point, it had seemed like a half-baked B-grade science-fiction musical.

This was meant to be a concept concert, with the Chinese-American singer-songwriter playing the role of a visitor from outer space, here to lead the audience to a place/time called Descendants Of The Dragon 2060, where love, hope and good music could be found.

He made his appearance on stage as though he were stepping off a space vehicle, wearing a metal-studded all-black bodysuit which flared out at the shoulders.

Too bad the concept was iffy and the execution was clunky with Wang harping on the same few points like a broken record.

The low point came with the attack of the Selfish tribe which, gasp, threatened to derail the entire enterprise. An "injured" Wang had to draw strength from the cheers of the 8,000-strong crowd, turning the gig into a call-and-response pantomime.

The fact that the singer was vocally unimpressive did not help matters. At points, he sounded as though he was straining for the notes and at others, he was overwhelmed by the loud music.

The song selection was a little odd as it included quite a few lesser known numbers and excluded many of his R&B tracks and hit ballads. Early favourite Gong Zhuan Zi Zhuan (Revolution) was included but bizarrely mangled with heavily manipulated vocals. And did we really need two performances of Descendants Of The Dragon?

The best part of the almost three-hour-long concert came during the encore, when the sci-fi conceit was largely abandoned.

It was Wang at his most relaxed as he took requests and bantered happily with the crowd.

He sang Hua Tian Cuo (Mistake In The Flower Fields) a cappella; tickled the ivories as he sang his portion of his popular duet with Malaysian rapper Namewee, Stranger In The North; and played the violin with aplomb as he belted out early hit Julia. He also covered the English number Shallow, from the film A Star Is Born (2018).

The segment was a reminder of his impressive music talent and his ability to pen hits.

The singer last performed in Singapore five years ago and much has changed for him since then. He is now a father of three children, a fact he addressed when he sang the lullaby-like Qin Ai De (Dearest), which was written for his two daughters.

Things got a little schmaltzy when he went on about love but this was definitely preferable to the alienating alien schtick.