Concert review: Versatile Karen Mok shines

Singer-actress Karen Mok thrills concertgoers with myriad costumes and smoky vocals



The Star Theatre/Last Saturday

The last time Hong Kong singer- actress Karen Mok performed in Singapore in a major concert, she had yet to win a Golden Melody Award for Best Female Singer, she was a bachelorette and this venue was probably not even on the drawing board.

Acknowledging the long 15-year gap between gigs, she said: "It's really too much of me, how should I be punished? By singing."

As if eager to make up for lost time, she packed the 21/2-hour concert with close to 30 songs and a variety of striking costumes while keeping the chatter to a minimum.

In a most auspicious opening, she appeared in a bright red cape and a red vizor for the regal Niang Niang Jia Dao (Her Majesty Arrives).

And then, with a flourish, the cape was gone and Mok was showing off her gams in a short outfit. That somehow turned into a flowy sexy number with such high slits, you had to admire the way she moved in it with no fear of a possible wardrobe malfunction.

While her smoky vocals make a cover of Chris Isaak's ballad Wicked Game seem like a good idea, it is hard to top his silkily seductive version. She made up for it with lots of sensual choreography, with a hunky dancer teasingly peeling a garter off her leg.

Then she sprawled across the piano for a rendition of one of her biggest hits, Yin Tian (Overcast).

The varied costumes Karen Mok (above) donned at the gig included one that made her look like a butterfly. PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT

When Mok sings in Mandarin, she falls on just the right side of exotic with an accent that is always threatening to slip into Cantonese- inflected territory, but never quite does.

The difference is apparent when she sings in English as she is more at ease when she does not have to be so conscious of her enunciation.

Still, it imbues everything she does in Mandopop with a distinctive flavour, in tracks such as Ta Bu Ai Wo (He Doesn't Love Me) and Guang Dao Zhi Lian (Hiroshima). Also, Mok is a versatile enough performer that she can do playful, dramatic, tender, poignant both in song and in persona.

To demonstrate her range, she went from sexy to innocent at the drop of a costume change.

She next appeared in a cream dress with her hair styled in loose flowing curls as though she were a member of a church choir. Against a backdrop of stained-glass visuals, she did a version of Wai Mian De Shi Jie (Outside World) with a church organ arrangement.

Later on, she morphed into a butterfly complete with wings. In another segment, she seemed to be some sort of dark priestess in a body-hugging jumpsuit, commanding a posse of acolyte-dancers and thrilling the audience of 5,000 with a solo on the guzheng.

During the encore, she said "hi" to her celebrity supporters - Taiwan- born actress Charlie Young and Singapore pop star Stefanie Sun - and took selfies with the crowd behind her. She said: "I have been here so many times, but this sight before me is the most beautiful scenery."

Mok saved some of her best for last as she lined up her hit ballads Kan Kan (Regardez), Ai Qing (Love Story) and Ai (Love) for the finale.

After the poignant Jing Wai (Beyond Borders), she put on shades and a pilot's cap and went off into the sunset on the screen, promising her fans that they will not have to wait another 15 years for her next appearance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Versatile Mok shines'. Print Edition | Subscribe