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.