Less is more at Taiwanese folk-pop singer Chyi Yu's first solo concert here

No fancy staging, no costume changes, no guest stars. Taiwanese folk-pop singer Chyi Yu kept things simple at her concert at Marina Bay Sands' Grand Theatre on Dec 20 and proved that less can be more.

She said at one point to the full-house audience of 2,200: "I think it's not necessary for me to say too much as I think that will disrupt your memories."

At 57, her voice remained a thing of beauty, enchanting and enthralling. There was a purity and richness to her vocals that brought songs to wondrous life.

She opened with Your Smiling Face (1979), not the easiest number to start with as it shoots for the high notes. There was perhaps a touch of tightness here and Chyi herself pointed out that she was actually very nervous as this was her first solo show here.

She soon settled down. After all, Singapore was a familiar place to her, one filled with "lots of good friends and good food".

While the accompanying video visuals were relatively basic, she painted evocative pictures with her crooning. She sang on Chrysanthemum Sigh: "Smiling gently, slowly blossoming in the cold night/Drifting gently like falling leaves in the forest."

Chyi could be playful as well. On the oldie Ye Lai Xiang (Fragrance Of The Night), her voice was as light and refreshing as a passing evening breeze. After a stretch of classic tracks from the 1980s and earlier, she teased: "Some people still refuse to sing along. Are you afraid of revealing your age?"

Midway, she brought out her biggest hit, The Olive Tree. Taken from her 1979 debut album of the same name, it is a track which manages to sound timeless rather than dated. Chyi thanked lyricist and writer Sanmao and her mentor and composer Li Tai-hsiang for her signature song and wondered where she would be without it.

A few surprises were in store for her fans.

She performed Tian Xia You Qing Ren (Lovers Of The World), originally a Mandopop duet with Wakin Chau, and sang both parts herself. Not only that, she also added the Cantonese version of the wordy track into the mix. It was a showcase of her linguistic as well as vocal dexterity, given the range she had to cover.

As a treat for polyglot Singapore, she then did a mash-up of Leslie Cheung's Cantopop hit Silence Is Golden in the Minnan dialect, as well as delivered renditions of evergreens such as Whoever Finds This, I Love You and Sailing.

But it was a pity that she found no space in the two-hour-plus concert for any song from her mesmerising 1997 album, Camel. Flying Bird. Fish.

Apart from songs, Chyi also shared the story of her journey from a folk-pop singer to one who does religious music now. Since 2004, she has been releasing Buddhist and gospel works.

She felt that mistakes she had made in life were like little locks weighing her down, but since she started on her new music path, "all those little locks have opened and I feel the path to heaven is open to me once more".

This was followed by a deeply felt version of the hymn Amazing Grace, which was then juxtaposed with a Buddhist track, Lotuses Bloom Everywhere.

The evening ended on a philosophical note with the song Bodhi Tree, which is strongly associated with Buddhism. She mused: "I hope that your olive trees and mine can turn into an eternal Bodhi tree after gaining wisdom."

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