No idol, but Terry Lin thrills with his voice

Terry Lin's wide range included singing in Cantonese and Minnan.
Terry Lin's wide range included singing in Cantonese and Minnan.PHOTO: THE THIRD PARTY

The Taiwanese singer may appear gangly and awkward, but he breathes new life into songs with true emotion



Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre/Last Friday

In many ways, Taiwan's Terry Lin is an unlikely pop star.

Bespectacled and gangly, he is not quite idol material. Nor does he have the effusiveness of a natural entertainer.

Indeed, some of the staging for the concert was a little awkward as he introduced the erhu accompanist as his lover in a past life and the violin player as his current flame.

He also pretended to be an alien from space at one point.

But none of that mattered the moment he started to sing. When Lin sings, he performs an act of alchemy.

As he took on Jay Chou's Fireworks Cool Easily, he transformed a melancholic pop tune into a thing of beauty shimmering with loneliness and longing.

There is a purity to his voice that makes every emotion ring bright and true, and his is a set of pipes that glides effortlessly over the high notes, even in falsetto.

It all came together wonderfully on ballads such as Losing You, What Does It Matter If I Win The World and The Departed, which he dedicated to his late mother.

Mandopop fans of a certain age would remember Lin and Lee Chi as the pop duo Ukulele from the early 1990s.

As a solo artist, he went on to chalk up a few hits, including Mona Lisa's Tear and Bachelor's Love Song. He performed these two tracks right off the bat, cloaked in a bright red coat and sporting shades and a perky pompadour.

There was a point to putting two of his best-known solo numbers up front.

He said to the audience of 6,000: "I usually put one at the beginning and one at the end, so that's the whole show. Actually, I wanted to let you know I have a lot more good songs beyond these two."

Many of the numbers during the two-hour-long gig were those he had sung on the popular China television reality show, I Am A Singer, in 2013. He emerged second, behind Chinese duo Yu Quan that first season and it gave his singing career a second wind.

At the concert, he performed Chyi Chin's exquisite Night Night Night Night and a Mandarin version of Eason Chan's dramatic Grandiose.

He even breathed new life into that hackneyed love ballad, Air Supply's Making Love Out Of Nothing At All. This was despite the fact that the 50-year-old was nursing a slight cough and not quite in tip-top condition.

Lin also showed his range by singing in Cantonese and Minnan. And while a jazzy segment was meant to change up the pace, I would have preferred to hear more of his work from his Ukulele days.

Losing You was lovely, but what about Admit I'm Wrong and Journey Of The Young?

As if acknowledging the omissions, he encouraged fans who were left unsatiated to attend his upcoming concert at Taipei Arena in November.

A tempting proposition indeed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'No idol, but Terry Lin thrills with his voice'. Print Edition | Subscribe