SINGAPORE - For stage inventiveness and production values, veteran Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung's A Classic Tour definitely scores top marks.
As a measure of how successful it is, Friday's (Feb 9) gig was the first of three sold-out nights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium - a year after he sold out three nights at the same venue with the same show last February.
And judging by the show of hands when he asked, a good number had already seen it then. Others, like me, had missed it last year and were glad for the encore gigs; still others were watching him in concert for the very first time.
It unfolded like a musical at times, with the flexible stage, video projections and lighting creating different scenes and settings from song to song.
In the opening, with Cheung in top hat and coattails, the stage set-up resembled a tiered wedding cake.
During Forget Him, there was a bar in the centre of the four-sided stage in keeping with the Moulin-Rouge-cabaret-inspired costumes of the dancers.
Late in the evening, the show still managed to surprise as Cheung performed in a field of floating points of coloured light. At one point, they seemed to be controlled by him as they drifted up when he lifted his arms. What a beautiful and mesmerising sight.
Some of the stage designs could only be fully appreciated from a bird's eye view.
When he sang The Departed, he stepped onto a life-size replica of an origami paper boat which languidly circled around the stage. Those seated nearer to him would not have been able to see the stage floor transform into a body of water thanks to the clever use of lighting. Good thing there were large video screens placed above the stage which provided that perspective.
For all the thoughtful staging, there was an odd decision with regard to the rundown of songs.
He saved his most classic Mandarin and Cantonese hits for last and sang them in a medley as, finally, he reeled off I Waited Till The Flowers Withered, Farewell Kiss, Love You More Each Day and more.
It was an embarrassment of riches but they could have been spread out over the evening - and performed in full.
This was the singer's 138th show of his A Classic Tour and it showed in his relaxed demeanour and easy command of the 10,000-strong crowd.
Over three hours, the 56-year-old sang and shimmied tirelessly, constantly moving around the stage to make sure that every corner of the venue was covered.
He quipped: "Who likes to see me dance? If you don't watch now, who knows if I'll be dancing at 60."
Vocally though, he seemed to be expending quite a bit of effort to hit the high notes and his voice broke a few times. Perhaps his punishing tour schedule, and jet lag, are taking a toll as the Singapore dates are sandwiched between gigs in Connecticut and Nevada in the United States.
Cheung generally sounded fine but one has perhaps higher expectations for the man hailed as the God of Songs.
He said of the long tour at one point: "Your physical condition each day is different but what gets us through it is you (the audience). There were times when I thought I couldn't go on but I didn't want to disappoint anyone and I just want to do my best on that day."
It turns out that the God of Songs is human too.