Introvert's impressive show

Dancers were dressed up to look like singer Hebe Tien (third from far left) in a segment of the concert.
Dancers were dressed up to look like singer Hebe Tien (third from far left) in a segment of the concert.PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT

Besides a stunning stage set, singer Hebe Tien's concert offered a varied take on songs that showcased her vocal range



Singapore Indoor Stadium

Last Saturday

If Hebe Tien were never a part of Taiwanese girl group S.H.E, could she have succeeded in the Mandopop scene on her own?

Compared with her comrades Selina Jen and Ella Chen, who have ventured beyond music and gained recognition in hosting and acting gigs, Tien has shown less versatility.

By her own admission at her first major solo concert in Singapore, which was also the last leg of her If World Tour, she is an introvert who has a "deficiency in socialising".

"If I am in an elevator and see someone approaching, I would quickly press the button to shut the door," she confessed, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Yet, she is in the entertainment industry, meeting new people all the time. "Fate has it that I get to perform on stage and be a celebrity," she remarked. "But I get to do my favourite activity - singing."

And sing, she did.

Tien, who will celebrate her 33rd birthday on March 30, tapped on the repertoire from her three solo albums to mesmerise the 8,000- strong audience. If she was affected by the recent divorce announcement by her teammate Jen, she certainly did not show it.

Her opening number Insignificance was a haunting experience that had her serenading the audiences while lying on top of iceberg replicas.

The next was a gritty rock version of her 2010 hit Love, a pleasant departure from the usual sugary ballad. The power in her voice was solid, yet not overwhelming.

Her exuberance came through in her rendition of Florence + The Machine's Dog Days Are Over. Tien added her own youthful, manic energy, and then some, into the English indie rock number.

Not that she could not do sweet - her pristine vocals softened when performing ballads Flower and Still In Happiness, carrying a certain ethereal quality that reminded one of Mandopop veteran Faye Wong.

Tien also held her own when performing Eason Chan's Baby Song. While the reigning king of Cantopop sang as a father doling advice to his daughter, Tien was the warm friend whom you could count on offering her counsel.

However, she went for safer, more familiar musical arrangements with her biggest hits, such as Forever Love and A Little Happiness, the theme song for the Taiwanese box office-smashing film Our Times.

If there was anything that could steal her thunder, it was the eye-catching stage set design.

From a giant cuboid platform decked out to resemble a lush green island to the laser and videography that matched perfectly the rhythm and moving screens, the show was out to flood concertgoers' senses.

The most memorable segment had to be for Contradiction, where three dancers were transformed into Tien's clones.

They wore wigs resembling her luscious wavy hair and synthetic masks created based on her looks. The resemblance was so creepily uncanny that the scene looked like something plucked directly from a Korean horror movie.

However, all scary images were vanquished when the band members, all men, some with goatees, wore them in jest. This led Tien to quip: "You can look sad underneath the mask, unlike me, who has to smile constantly."

Despite her lack of confidence in her public speaking skills, she left an impression when she told the audiences: "We are each like a water droplet, flowing along to the river. We may get separated as we move in different streams, but we would always meet each other again in the ocean."

Till your next concert here then, Tien.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Introvert's impressive show'. Print Edition | Subscribe