#Showbiz: Vintage Jacky

THE Heavenly King may have made his appearance in Kuala Lumpur early this year but his huge following in Malaysia understandably elicited another three-night sold-out performance at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil last weekend.

And what a concert! It was Jacky Cheung’s 192nd show of his globe-trotting “A Classic Tour” and if one had previously been a reluctant fan, one will surely be fawning over his every gesture as the night wore on.

The singer extraordinaire not only showcased his rich baritone voice but put on a dazzling musical extravaganza that took the audience down memory lane with his string of hits that mesmerised young and old alike.

Dubbed the “God of Song”, Cheung is one of the four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop and Mandopop. He has shown extraordinary endurance and mettle as a singer thus far compared to the other three, namely, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai.

Throughout the recent show, it was evident that his passion for singing has not waned, as he put heart and soul into every note in songs he would have sung to death through the years.

As with his previous concerts, the show began on the dot at 8pm so zero sympathy from me to latecomers who missed his catchy fast numbers Me And You, Days of Summer and the apt Enjoy Tonight which got all 12,000 fans hyped up and waving their light sticks with gusto.

The staged with packed with his dancers, in fur and burlesque costumes no less, and it was a colourful and vibrant start.

His pace then slowed with So Near Yet So Far before upping the tempo with Loving The Spark and the rocking Forget Him, which raised temperatures with his sultry hot dancers in sexy attire gyrating and teasing the audience.

His next number, the ballad I’m Hurt, was a grand singalong and it was evident how much the song impacted fans as young and old were seen singing along with gusto.

DOING THE FILIAL THING

During a radio interview earlier, one fan gushed that she has every one of Cheung albums and she felt he was an integral part of her growing up years. Another fan testified that Cheung was her mother’s idol and now that the latter is old, she has “no qualms queuing up from midnight and spending thousands of ringgit” for the tickets as it is the least she could do to repay her mother’s love.

As it was, as I was making my way to the indoor stadium, I could see youths holding their parents’ hands as they led them to their seats. Cheung’s music have touched and bridged two generations. Now how cool is that?

The concert was a mishmash of dance, stage performances and special effects — just when you thought, wow, it couldn’t get any better, the next song and the next performance took it a notch higher.

His dancers, 24 in all, came on stage in various costumes and choreography as befitting the different songs. Burlesque, the Swinging 20s, circus acts, lifelike monsters, rock, magical ... you name it, they made it happen.

The awesome stage is a work of wonder too. It twists and turns and opens up like a Rubik Cube of sorts, with Jacky making his grand appearance from one ascending section to other sections rearranging themselves to form magical stairs or even a circus carousell or even separate stages for shadow play and other slick dance performances by the dancers. Together with the six huge screens surround the stage, it was a sight to behold.

During one song, Jacky was even in a “paper” boat as it glided smoothly across the stage, now magically transformed into a lake. All in all it was uncanny synchronicity.

OF WOLFS AND MONSTERS

For me, the highlight was the song performance for Cheung’s megahit Legend of The Wolf, where the stage became a glitzy showcase of dances. Besides Cheung singing and showing off his dance moves, his troupe of performers dazzled with their choreography. At one point, some “monsters” suddenly made their appearance.’

These were “whoa” moments as the dancers-cum-monsters had the most realistic-looking alien attire attached to their bodies which they manipulated with strings and sticks. The whole effect was surreal and it was almost like the creatures were alive and slowly consuming the performers, especially during the part where they attempted to clamber up metal structures around the stage.

Concurrently, even as the attention of the audience was transfixed on these monsters, there were performers mimicking circus performers like men on stilts and some on air-trekkers (metal contraptions attached to the feet to enable them to jump high and perform somersaults).

With the hypnotic movements of the dancers and Cheung’s baritone voice booming all around, there was so much going on that one couldn’t decide which to focus on.

For Wake Up Dreaming, Cheung put on another fantastic special effects moment which ties in with his dramatic concert poster which had him engulfed in flames. I still wonder how it was done, for I could see the flames getting bigger and licking him even as he is singing his heart out. I salute the team which made it happen and these special moments are what makes his concerts so memorable and popular. For Cheung not only sings well, he ensures that his concerts are worth every sen.

When Cheung addressed the audience, it was like an old friend who has come home to his “family”. He spoke of how he has been coming to Malaysia since his 20s to perform, and he says in jest that he sometimes “feels like a longtime resident here”. Through this concert, he continues, he hopes the audience will “understand 34 years of Jacky Cheung”. It was a touching moment when he aired black and white pictures of his peers including the late Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, both of whom he has acted together in numerous films in the past.

Shrugging off the sadness, he thanked fans for their years of support and said that while much has changed in the last decade, he promised that the next 10 years will be “even better”.

DOWN MEMORY LANE

As always, saving the best for last, he launched into a medley of his old hits, all of which were received with rousing cheer from the audience.

When Perhaps Love, Amour, Blessings, Goodbye Kiss, Separate on A Rainy Day and One Thousand Reasons To Be Sad reverberated inside the stadium, I’m pretty sure many fans had a tear of two at the corner of their eyes. These classic songs oozed with nostalgia and a memory of a happier younger carefree past, and it was with a heavy but thoroughly satisfied heart that many in the audience trooped out of the stadium with when the concert ended a little after 11pm.

Jacky’s Cheung’s A Classic Tour moves on to Japan, France and Taiwan before the singer wraps up the tour with a 15-show finale in Hong Kong in January next year, setting a record of 220 concerts for a Chinese singer.

Incidentally, in April this year, Cheung broke his own Guinness World Records by hosting his 147th show at Shao Xing, China. His last world tour titled “1/2 Century” comprised 146 performances.

The Jacky Cheung “A Classic Tour” concert was jointly presented by Allianz Malaysia Behad and Goldsands Hotel Langkawi, and organised by Star Planet and Impact Entertainment.

News Source: New Straits Times