REVIEW / CONCERT
"THE INVINCIBLE" JAY CHOU CONCERT TOUR 2016
National Stadium/Last Saturday
Since his last concert in Singapore in December 2014, Mandopop king Jay Chou has gotten married and is now the father of a little girl.
These are major life changes and they have clearly shaped his new album, Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories (2016). But he made no mention of his wife and daughter and the only hint of domestic bliss was when he asked the sold-out crowd of 40,000: "Have I put on weight?"
Then he added teasingly: "If you listen to my songs, you'll never get fat, I mean, old."
Otherwise, the man himself was hard to pin down from his pat banter and it sometimes felt as if he was a little elusive during the gig, even if the production was top-notch.
Visually, this was a spectacular concert.
A suspended man in a spacesuit appeared to float through space as images of the cosmos were projected onto the screens on stage. Next, the concertgoers were plunging deep into a space vehicle and, finally, Chou himself appeared in a lit outfit which made him look like a walking pink skeleton. And this was just for the opening song, Hero.
The gothic segment for Bedtime Stories featured background visuals, which looked like they could have been outtakes from a Tim Burton animated film. The stage was transformed into the stained-glass interior of a cathedral for In The Name Of The Father and into an expansive underwater world for Mermaid.
But, sometimes, you wished that the excellent staging could have been in service of stronger material. The tracks from his recent albums tended to feel familiar where his songs were once fresh and exciting.
The excitement was palpable whenever he launched into his earlier hits, including Can't Express Myself from 2001's Fantasy and Peninsula Iron Box from 2002's The Eight Dimensions. Unfortunately, Year Three, Class Two from 2003's Ye Hui Mei - named after Chou's mother - was merely filler for an interlude and not performed in full.
At least, the problem of murky sound that plagued his previous concert at the same venue did not resurface. From where the media were seated - centre and near the front - the sound was a little echoey at times, but not enough to be ruinous.
Chou was not at his best vocally. Had he been too busy taping the China reality television show Sing! China? He was too ready to point his microphone towards the audience members for them to chorus along and he seemed to be relying quite a bit on his back-up singers.
The concert was 21/2 hours long and one segment which could have been trimmed was the interaction with fans. It was great for those who were picked to sing with their idol, but it was largely a draggy affair for everyone else.
After all, it was Chou for whom the crowd came for and the extra time could have yielded a few more classic hits or maybe even a tiny peek into his life as husband and father.