Music Party a winner

Jimmy Ye (centre) sharing the stage with xinyao pioneers Hong Shaoxuan (left) and Liang Wern Fook (right).
Jimmy Ye (centre) sharing the stage with xinyao pioneers Hong Shaoxuan (left) and Liang Wern Fook (right). PHOTO: DAVID SOON

General Election was a theme in singer- songwriter Jimmy Ye's concert held one day after the event



Esplanade Concert Hall/ Last Saturday

Home-grown singer-songwriter Jimmy Ye was sweating bullets because of the General Election.

While the date of his gig had been fixed a year ago, he was left hanging for the longest time when there were rumours of Singapore heading to the polls with Sept 12 bandied about as the date.

"If today had been Polling Day...", and he sprawled onto the stage to convey exactly how crushed he would have felt. He had, after all, waited 22 years for the chance to hold his own solo concert.

Ye made his debut as a Mandopop singer with Give Me Your Love in 1993 and released four more albums between then and 1998.

He chalked up hits such as Loving You Is Not For Others To See and My Heart Is Flustered and was a male idol singer to call Singapore's own before the likes of JJ Lin and A-do came along.

Making his appearance as a bow-tied and bespectacled dapper gentleman in a grey three-piece suit, he said to the audience: "It's been 17 years and you haven't forgotten me and my music. I'm moved and grateful."

The show opened with If We Fall In Love Again and Ye did a jazzy take on the ballad.

Despite the passage of years, he displayed a strong grasp of vocal techniques from vibrato to falsetto and he sounded as good as ever.

While there were some jitters, he smoothed things over with a dash of self-deprecating humour and some entertaining anecdotes.

Professing to be terrible in Mandarin and hence forgetful of lyrics, he announced that instead of sneaking peeks at the monitor, he would simply look at it openly.

While the election schedule had been a source of anxiety, the event also provided fodder for some interesting moments.

As it turned out, Ye has a song called Let You Decide which includes the line, "Let you decide/ Whether I'm free or enslaved", and he dedicated it to the day of national reckoning.

The next number, I Keep Hearing You Say, was dedicated to the new government. He also joked about forming a new party with a less violent symbol - a music note as opposed to a bolt of lightning or a hammer.

While he had stopped releasing albums after 1998, arguably, he went on to scale greater heights as a composer.

A segment focusing on the hits he wrote for others included Jacky Cheung's Wanna Go For A Walk With You, Jeff Chang's Want To Love You Too Much, Jolin Tsai's I Know You're Very Sad and Leslie Cheung's Left Right Hands, which Ye sang in its original Cantonese.

These are no less than the big guns of Chinese pop and his songs were their lead singles and no mere album fillers. Cheung once included that song in his setlist at the last minute when he realised its composer was at his concert.

Aside from his work in pop music, Ye also collaborated with xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook on the Mandarin musical December Rains.

The third run of it just ended recently, but the audience had a chance to revisit some of its songs when Liang and singer Hong Shaoxuan came on as guest stars.

The four-hour-long concert also saw Ye paying tribute to some of his favourite songwriters.

He took on John Legend's All Of Me and Billy Joel's And So It Goes as he tinkled the ivories, further showcasing his versatility as a musician.

He even wrote a new song, How Are You, including the Mandarin lyrics, specially for his fans.

From the standing ovation at the end, it was clear that Ye's Music Party was a winner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Music Party a winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe