REVIEW / CONCERT
UP-CLOSE WITH DAVID TAO
Singapore Indoor Stadium
Even at a pop concert, there was no getting away from the highly anticipated summit meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Taiwanese singer-songwriter David Tao brought it up and said: "I hope there can be more love and peace as a result of it."
It made for a topical segue into El Martes Negro (Black Tuesday) and Black Tangerine, his harder-edged rock songs, which wrestled with the state of the world.
But apart from that interlude, it was a mostly familiar Tao that the sold-out crowd of more than 8,000 was presented with.
His debut self-titled record in 1997 shook up Mandopop with its R&B stylings and spawned a string of hits, including Airport 10.30 and I Love You.
Follow-up album I'm OK (1999) broadened his musical palette with the likes of country-tinged Small Town Girl and the bible-referencing rock ballad, Rain (Zhao Zi Ji).
He has put out a total of seven albums - most recently, Hello Goodbye (2013) and Opus 69 (2009). But the latter two were barely a blip in this two-hour-plus concert.
Not that the crowd minded. It was clear that they had come for his older hits.
The first song that had the entire stadium chorusing along was Just A Friend. In that clear-eyed number about getting friend-zoned, his falsetto soared achingly: "In your heart, I am just a friend, not a lover."
The set-list was heavily tilted towards the singer's first four albums, even including the ballad Everything's Gone (Liu Sha) from his first disc, which he introduced with a "haven't heard this for a long time, huh".
Did he decide to obligingly go down the crowd-pleasing route since his last gig here - also at the Indoor Stadium - about a decade ago?
Tao admitted that he had been worried about ticket sales and perhaps did not want to alienate his fans further with the newer and less familiar material.
Not that he played it completely safe.
Electric guitars souped up Small Town Girl, while Minnan ditty Spring Wind was transformed into a retro Hokkien rock number complete with garish lighting.
Tao was an energetic presence on stage, switching among guitars, interacting with the audience and jazzing up his vocals with flourishes for added drama.
He said at one point: "I'm very different from eight years ago, but what remains the same is the desire to bring you good music."
There is a new album in the pipeline, but the challenge for him is to come up with songs that resonate as strongly as his earlier works did - and still do.