Eason Chan's stripped-down concert puts music at the forefront

Hong Kong singer Eason Chan performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Dec 3, 2017.
Hong Kong singer Eason Chan performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Dec 3, 2017. PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION



Singapore Indoor Stadium/Sunday

No fancy staging, no eye-popping costumes and no sign of his best-known hits.

Instead, Hong Kong singer Eason Chan tried something different with this C'mon In~ gig, which is also the title of his most recent Mandarin album.

He performed all 10 tracks from it and shared anecdotes about them. Usually, only a few numbers from a new record would be plugged and performed, but he gave all of them space to breathe with this format.

It was a conceit that worked, thanks to the fine form of his voice and the strength of the material. It ranged from the beautiful balladry of Shei Lai Jian Yue Guang (Miss) to the lively Hai Dan (Sigh), a retro dance tune that served up sea urchin as a metaphor for how a man lives his life.

And "slow song with a groove" Ling Xia Ji Fen Zhong (Freeze), inspired by the late English singer-songwriter George Michael, painted a picture of wintry New York as smoke swirled on stage.

Dressed in a casual ensemble of jacket, T-shirt and trackpants, Chan was in a relaxed and expansive mood on the final stop of the tour.

With no strict run-down to adhere to, he digressed all over in his chatter ("Let's talk about gossip. Actually, I'm really out of it.") and danced when the mood seized him.

Speaking in a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin and English, he recalled the madness that would usually follow when a movable stage descends. Complete with actions and exaggerated expressions, he recreated the rush to change costumes and take a sip of water - sometimes getting a mic poked in his face.

In addition to songs from C'mon In~, he also performed a selection of Cantonese tracks for the sold-out crowd of 5,000.

As he rattled off names of past hits, including King Of Karaoke and Next Year Today, the crowd roared with approval - only to have him declare that these were tracks he would not be singing.

Instead, he dug deep into his back catalogue and came up with numbers such as Superman's Theme from 1998 as well as a Canto-Mando mash-up of White Rose and Red Rose.

It was not as though he was out to alienate the audience, but this cosy setting - though perhaps, say, the Esplanade Concert Hall would have been more ideal - was a good platform to trot out material that might not have been big hits, but was still important to him.

And what was important to fans was another chance to hear Chan live in concert - regardless of the format.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Music at the forefront'. Print Edition | Subscribe