REVIEW / CONCERT
A-MEI WORLD TOUR 2017 - SINGAPORE
Singapore Indoor Stadium/Last Friday
At some points, it was the largest KTV room in Singapore as the crowd of about 7,200 sang along fervently. At others, it was the largest Mandopop disco as the beats throbbed, the lights danced and the audience boogied along.
Taiwanese diva A-mei moved effortlessly from one realm to another, equally at ease belting out ballads and firing up the high-octane dance numbers in a concert that was almost three hours long.
It took a while, though, before her vocals warmed up fully.
On the opening string of fast- paced tracks, her voice seemed quite ragged and the energy level wasn't quite there.
Given that her previous show here was in January last year at the National Stadium, there was a certain familiarity to the proceedings as she blew kisses and exhorted her fans to "give me your hands".
An early standout number was Bloody Love Story. While it was perhaps rather literal to bathe the stage in red, it was also effective in creating a macabre mood.
Things picked up further when the dreadlocked A-mei started singing I Hate I Love You. Her voice took centre stage as she crooned to the accompaniment of a piano and it was warm and powerful. This was followed by Have You Heard Lately?, Truth and Want Nothing, the fans' chorusing growing louder with each hit.
The gig also marked the singer's 20th-anniversary milestone and she had a few surprises up her sleeve. (Strictly speaking, her debut album Sisters came out in 1996, but who's quibbling?)
She sang the moving Listen To Me as a tribute to her "good teacher and friend", Taiwanese singer- songwriter-producer Chang Yu- sheng, who died in 1997 after a car accident. The song was released when he was in a coma fighting for his life and because of the painful associations, she has rarely performed it.
There were other, happier memories.
A-mei turned back the years in a time-travel segment in which she performed one song from each of her 16 albums, starting with the reggae-influenced Jamaican Betel Nut off Amit2 (2015).
On the track Rainbow (from 2009's Amit), she waved around a rainbow flag and said: "I'm cheering on every kind of love." She dusted off the almost forgotten Journey (2001) and later recalled that she had filmed a music video in Singapore for the ballad Early (from 2000's Regardless).
During Hand In Hand (1998), the crowd clapped along; during Thinking Of You (from 1997's Bad Boy), they waved their hands in the air as one as A-mei urged the audience to set a high bar for the following night's almost sold-out show.
It ended at the beginning with Sisters, the title track of the 1996 album that made her name. She sang last year's slowed-down version, as though taking a moment to reflect on how far she has come - and how far we have travelled with her.
By the end of the night, my voice was starting to get ragged. A-mei sounded like she could sing for another 20 years.