The last time I saw 张学友 sing ‘live’, I was with the girl I liked. It was a disaster: Some time into the concert, my seat actually snapped off its moorings. You know how an L-shaped piece of plastic can be joined to a stadium step by its horizontal part and it then becomes a chair? Well, this one must have been poorly joined, because it broke right off. (I’m fat, but not that fat.) And then, she had to leave early, before the encore. As we walked out of the stadium, I could hear 张学友 singing one of my favourite songs – I’ve totally forgotten which now.
Exactly ten days ago, I saw 张学友 sing ‘live’ again. This was much more enjoyable. The man’s 46, and his local fans must have realised that they probably would not have a chance to see him perform ‘live’ again, and so the concert sold out like mad. Or rather, it went like this: First, he was to sing only one night. Then the tickets for that must have sold out or vanished into thin air, and so it was decided he would sing for two nights. Then tickets for the second night ran out too, and so a rare third night (on a Sunday, which led to him joking with the audience that they had to work tomorrow and he’d better end early) was added.
Then they had to add 500 seats for each night. (!!)
The seats we got weren’t very good – they were perpendicular to the stage, and given the tight spacing, one had to turn almost the full 90 degrees to get an unobstructed view – and the sound system favoured the percussion instruments and bass, but his performance made up for all that. Some highlights:
- He sang songs he composed or wrote the lyrics for: 给朋友 (in memory of three good friends who died the year before); 摇瑶 (which he composed for his daughter) and 讲你知 (which, he joked, he knew he had to write for his wife after he wrote something for his daughter). I love 讲你知’s lyrics:
- He sang others’ songs: 周华健’s 明天我要嫁给你; 孙燕姿’s 天黑黑 and 张信哲’s 爱如潮水 – which used to be my favourite song, maybe 15 years ago – the memory of my singing this song to myself and marvelling at how catchy it was just flashed through my brain, vividly vividly; I am outside the science labs, in the dark corridor, behind the pale yellow double doors. When did I outgrow it? (Funny word, “outgrow” – makes it sound as if the song grew with me, and I grew with it, and eventually, I just grew faster and left it behind…)
- He sang songs he called his 经典 – his classics, one for each dialect: among his Cantonese songs, he sang 每天爱你多一些 (completely completely disagree that, among all his Cantonese songs, this one should be rated as the classic – can think of at least five others more suitable, one of which (只想一生跟你走) he had sung earlier in the concert *beam*, and one he sang during the 13-song encore *double beam*); among his Mandarin songs, he sang 吻别 (no real argument there – his career was okay before this, but this song essentially launched it into orbit)
- The biggest surprise of the night came when he said that he hadn’t sung this next song the previous two nights, and then sang 她来听我的演唱会. I mean, you are seriously telling me that he did not sing this song the previous two nights, and that the fans actually went home without hearing it? He has to sing that song in every single one of his concerts, without exception. Just ridique that he did not. I don’t believe it. (The song title can be translated as “She Came to My Concert”, and talks about the way his singing intersects with the lives of his fans.)
- Think my third favourite part of the night was when he sang 离开以后. Reminded me of a CD I gave her, which she said was her favourite 张学友 CD.
- Think my second favourite part of the night was when he sang 只想一生跟你走. This was one of my favourite songs when I was 17 or 18. Always happy to hear this song.
- My favourite part of the night came late, when he sang this one song. The person I was with and I both feel this is probably his best song, and that our night would be complete only if he sang it. The thing is, this song is actually not as super-famous as some; in other words, given the fact that he has over 20 years of hits, it was conceivable that he would not sing this song. In fact, it was all too conceivable, so conceivable that we were on edge from the moment we entered the concert venue and throughout the concert, waiting. The concert actually started off with an instrumental riff that sounded like the beginning of that song, and when it morphed into a fast number and he came onstage, we actually felt a little disappointed. Our hopes dimmed more when he mentioned he would sing a classic, and sang 每天爱你多一些. Then came the encore. Having found out from a review of Friday’s concert that the encore had lasted 12 songs, I started counting down. The first song came, and then the first three went, then half of the 12. Nothing doing. He was now in “warm down” mode, thanking the audience and making us all feel special. He was now so hungry he started munching on an apple while he sang. I vaguely thought about chanting the title of the song, and wondered who else would chant with me. He finished his apple, and continued holding the core. He took a swig of water from a mineral bottle. And he turned around and sang 李香兰. He sang it without any warning, he knew we were waiting for it and would recognise its distinctive lead-in, he knew we were unsure whether to expect it or not so near the end, he knew it, and he deliberately strung us out and led us on, and because he sang it, and he sang it with his trademark effort and intensity and stunning virtuosity, we all cheered like mad bonkers :)