SINGAPORE - Gearing up for Mandopop king Jay Chou's concert at the National Stadium on Saturday (Jan 6), my biggest worry is not what songs he will sing or how well he will perform; It is whether I will get to hear anything at all.
After all, reports of his previous two concerts - both at the National Stadium - have repeatedly taken issue with the sound, which is said to have affected guests, particularly in the cheaper seats.
In 2016, angry fans went so far as to petition for a refund of their tickets, and the concert was categorised by The Straits Times as among the worst of the year. I sat in the cheapest seats, and recall the sound being so horribly muffled, identifying the songs was a struggle.
Going by that yardstick, this year's concert - titled The Invincible 2 Jay Chou Concert Tour 2018 - is an improvement.
Hours after the 2½-hour show, I still cannot find any complaints of the acoustics on social media, unlike in previous years, when several Facebook pages linked to the show became a bloodbath of angry comments.
From where the media sat - near the stage and in the centre - the sound was fine. At times, it had a heavy bass and echoey feel, but this is sometimes the case in a big arena. I also planted a friend in the cheapest category, and the audio in her video recordings was relatively clear, given those seats are some distance from the speakers.
With that thorny issue out of the way, it is possible to focus on the Mandopop king's second show here, as part of the same tour. The sold-out show was attended by more than 40,000 fans, including Chou's mother, as well as his wife, model-actress Hannah Quinlivan.
Equally elaborate and visually stunning as the first, Saturday's show was given the same showy treatment deserving of a superstar like Chou. Streamers showered down on the audience every few songs, and numbers such as Tornado were accompanied with dazzling fireworks fountains, as the 38-year-old sang and tickled the ivories.
While this recent show had the same structure and many similar numbers as the previous one, there were treats for fans who came again. Some fan favourites such as Nunchucks and Starry Mood, which did not make it into the last show, were performed this time.
And Chou also made an effort to spice things up by inviting two of his mentees from the most recent season of reality television show Sing! China - local singers Olinda Cho and Joanna Dong - as his guests on stage.
Together, the three performed the song Rhythm Of The Rain, which Chou said was fitting for Singapore because of the nation's recent rainy weather. Cho's warm vocals, coupled with Dong's sweet, breathy voice and Chou on the keys, was certainly one of highs of the night.
The low, however, was a drearily long 30-minute audience interaction segment towards the concert's end, when Chou picked random audience members and invited them to dedicate songs and sing with him. It did not work in 2016, and it did not work now.
While several songs at Saturday's show - such as Hero, Bedtime Stories and Extra Large Shoes - had already been performed in 2016, I did not mind experiencing them again because of the playful, energetic choreography and impeccable, colourful set design.
Thankfully, I could hear most of the words this time.