Long trip down xinyao memory lane

Veteran singer-songwriter Jimmy Ye performing the new song I Get You during the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre on Aug 19, 2017. ST VIDEO: BENSON ANG
A group performance (above) at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang and singer-songwriter Roy Loi at the concert.
A group performance (above) at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang and singer-songwriter Roy Loi at the concert.PHOTO: TCR MUSIC STATION
A group performance at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang (above) and singer-songwriter Roy Loi at the concert.
A group performance at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang (above) and singer-songwriter Roy Loi at the concert.PHOTO: TCR MUSIC STATION
A group performance at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang and singer-songwriter Roy Loi (above) at the concert.
A group performance at the Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert at The Star Theatre last Saturday; veteran songwriter Ng King Kang and singer-songwriter Roy Loi (above) at the concert.PHOTO: TCR MUSIC STATION

The nearly-five-hour Xinyao 35 Reunion Concert featured the who's who of Singapore songs as well as younger stars

REVIEW / CONCERT

XINYAO 35 REUNION CONCERT

The Star Theatre/Last Saturday

Anyone who has attended a massive reunion dinner would be familiar with the ambivalence of such events.

There is the exciting rush to reconnect with familiar faces, the dread of seeing a frenemy or two and the draining sensation that comes with attending such typically long-drawn affairs.

This annual concert, which celebrates the xinyao - or local Mandarin folk song - movement, was no exception.

Starting at 7.15pm and running all the way to midnight with a 20-minute intermission, this is easily among the longest concerts of the year. Probably exhausted from the sheer length of the show, a handful of the 4,800 audience members walked out before it ended.

Was it worth staying for the whole concert? Yes; if you could muster a marathoner's stamina and power through the 40-plus numbers, it was a rewarding trip down memory lane with beautiful nostalgic numbers peppered with lively banter and anecdotes.

The show opened gracefully with more than 30 performers singing the 1983 song Encounter, as confetti snowed from the ceiling and dancers glided and leapt along the aisles.

Featuring the who's who of xinyao, such as Jimmy Ye and Roy Loi, as well as younger stars such as Singapore-based singer Bonnie Loo, who won Chinese singing competition Campus SuperStar in 2013, the show was a feast for the ears.

A special part of this year's performance was the appearance of Koh Nam Seng, from xinyao group The Straws, who now reportedly lives in Taipei. He performed the soothing 1986 ballad Vertigo Night.

The concert organisers have apparently been inviting him to perform at this annual event for years. Koh said their persistence moved him.

Another highlight of the show was when Maggie Teng, Singapore's first Mandopop export to Taiwan in the 1980s, performed the song Gentle Night in her signature sweet voice. She said: "I feel like an old friend who has been far away. It feels good to come back and reminisce about the past."

Veteran songwriter Ng King Kang, who is also a senior correspondent at Lianhe Zaobao, performed the Singlish-influenced number Then Hor Then Hor as well as new song Wish You Were Here, the first time in 20 years that he has written a song for himself.

He has previously written songs for stars such as Hong Kong Heavenly Kings Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok.

Those in the audience who were patient enough to stay till the end of the concert would have appreciated the reminders of Singapore's rich xinyao legacy and the achievements in the Mandopop scene over the decades.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Long trip down xinyao memory lane'. Print Edition | Subscribe