Amidst the glossy and fickle Chinese music industry, a few truly talented and well-marketed artists stand out, one of them is David Tao. His well-known signature R & B tunes have come to be the genre in the Mandopop industry. Well, he is also one my favourite singers, so called me biased if you want. 🙂
Towards show time, the capacity crowd streamed into the venue almost like those time lapse videos. Like all concerts outside Esplanade, this concert didn’t start punctually. But the waiting definitely helped to build up the anticipation. As soon as the light dimmed to signal the start of the concert, the crowds were already all well warmed up and cheering for David Tao to appear.
The overture started with chants of “1, 2, 3” in Mandarin and then in various languages which pleasantly amused the audience. Then David Tao rose from below the stage to appear before the excited audience.
Within the first 3 up tempo songs, he had already had the extremely responsive crowd standing and waving their arms to the rhythm of the music.
After the fourth song, David took time to interact with the audience. Momentarily, it seemed rather awkward that he conversed predominantly in English for a concert consisting of Mandarin songs. It was later that I realised that there would be a number of band members as well as audiences that only understood English or not as familiar with Mandarin.
One of the main visual surprises at this concert has got to be the use of laser lights for the heavier up-tempo numbers. The first time it came on for the song “鬼”, plenty of oohs, aahs and howls complimented the stunning effects. It was clear that plenty of effort and heart was put in for this concert.
It seems that there has been a trend of Easternisation in Mandarin pop. First there was Jay Chou’s “千里之外”, soon there would one from Jeff Chang’s new album. Under David’s belt would be “Susan 说”. This live version was preluded with a pipa recital accompanied by a modernised opera dance, giving it a very strong Chinese flavour.
Before his next song, “爱我还是他”, David took time to introduce one of the many local talents in his crew. On the keyboards was Goh Kheng Loong, the music director whom he has worked with for 8 years. More amazingly, there had never been any arguments between them, something he attributed to God. That got a rather muted applause from the audience. If you didn’t know, David Tao is very upfront about his Christian faith and is unapologetic about sharing it with the audience at his concert.
Next was the jazzed up version of Teresa Teng’s “月亮代表我的心” which I felt was a little over-sang. He then followed up with “10:30的飞机场”. For “今天要回家” “今天没回家”, David got the audience to sing-along for the easier parts of the song. But when he challenged them to sing the following faster stanza, the audience stumbled. Nonetheless, the crowd enjoyed every moment of it.
“小镇姑娘” was definitely one of the more refreshingly rearranged songs. Originally a very light, country and folk sounding number, this live version was heavier and really rocked the house and had the audience on their feet and arms in the air.
A significantly slower “寂寞的季节” was then performed to lead up to his unplugged number, “普通朋友” which he shared the stage with his guitarist on tour, Jamie Wilson who surprised the audience when he replied to David’s questions in Mandarin. This would be just one of the numerous occasions in the concert where he showcases his band of talented musicians.
One of the things that set David Tao apart is how he uses his music for positive change in the world. The next song “Dear God” was one he wrote in response to the tragedies that had happened around the world in recent times as a cry out for change. It had a video prelude with the accompanying crew introducing themselves, their role in the band, their different nationalities and racial diversity. Then they introduced themselves in common as human to drive the point that the fighting that is happening around the world needs to stop and that we should recognise that our most effective weapon is love instead.
“今天你要嫁给我” is a duet which he wrote and sang with Jolin Tsai. Of course Jolin wasn’t around. So Singapore’s very own Tay Kewei sang her part as David flirted with her on stage as always in every of his concert. It is a pity her talent is not as recognised locally, judging from the somewhat awkward audience response when David referred her as the pride of Singapore. But hey, it’s just a few more songs before her debut album rocks our air waves, but if you are curious, visit her blog for her demo tracks and support local talent!
Producing a concert is always a team effort, so David took ample time after the song to introduce everyone that made this concert possible, on and off stage. Notably, there were many musicians that hail from Singapore and Malaysia. I was darn impressed that every musician on stage could sing and play at least one instrument! A special mention for Alisa Elisa, the multi-talented Taiwanese back up vocal who can also play the flute, trombone and violin. Not to mention that she quite gorgeous as well.
David then shared a little secret – he is a closet dancer, but a bad one at it. That’s why he remains a closet dancer. But still he wanted the audience to have some fun, he included a dance medley so that everyone can get on their feet to shake it up little. Interestingly, during the dance medley, David took the role of the back up vocals for John Tan David Tan (back up vocals and guitar) to take centre stage.
Halfway through “就是爱你”, David decided to get off the stage and get cozy with the audience. The ladies screamed with delight as they flooded towards the barrier for a hug, handshake or even just a touch of their idol. The fans loved it tremendously. Due to the local concert regulations, he could only access a limited area of the crowd. Returning to stage at the end of the song, David even thanked the security for their hard work in making that up-close and personal experience possible and safe for everyone.
Near the end of the concert he shared that he was considering a move to Singapore, because it was one of the few places where there is racial and religious tolerance. On a lighter note, he said that said that contrary to what people said, Singapore is actually a fun place, with the latest attraction being the Singapore Flyer, which is really slow and expensive.
For those who remembered his comments on desperately anxiously seeking a life partner at his press conference, David picked out a lady in the audience to serenade with the song “沙滩”, on stage. Darn lucky girl. Hmm… Isn’t he awfully transparent laying out plans to get a Singapore PR, don’t you think? I could almost hear some of the audience chanting, “PR! PR! PR!” Or maybe David’s already aiming for Singapore citizenship?
For the last song of the night, David sang his break out hit, “爱很简单”. With it he thanked the audience, the crew and especially God, sharing his testimony of miracle healing of tonsillitis on the morning of the concert. Yup, that too got a rather awkward reaction from the audience. But that didn’t affect the concert experience one bit. It was undoubtedly a great concert that would be remembered for a long time.