In 2007, V and I went to our first Jacky Cheung concert, when he came over to Melbourne on his 张学友2007世界巡回演唱会. It was an excellent experience seeing him up live, and I was really impressed at the way he performed; vigorous, little rest and giving his all and entertaining everyone with his music. My grasp of Cantonese back then was really basic, and it was a pity I could not fully understand his words at that time. A lot of other Chinese fans were more incensed, and kept yelling “讲国语!” (Speak Mandarin!)
Four years later, he’s returned to Melbourne once again and we caught his concert last night. Four years of exposure to Cantonese, better prepared and this time with Stan and Ting in tow; my daughter’s getting prenatal Jacky music! He’s aged in these years, and no longer as vigorous in his dance moves as he was before. But his vocals are still as inspiring as ever, and his face more expressive as ever when he’s immersed in the theme of the music. More Mandarin spoken this time, we suspect it’s due to demands from Chinese sponsors. It’s a good thing the songs were more or less split evenly, half Cantonese and half Mandarin; I began with his Mandarin songs, but grew to love his Cantonese ballads.
Unlike the 2007 concert which had a mini-musical (a mix of 雪狼湖 and 如果。爱 songs), this one encompasses several themes and had a distinctly Broadway feel to it. The first, a love story starring 舒淇 and himself, with various songs introducing passion, romance, love, heartbreak and finally reunion. I was really impressed, as this set had at least five consecutive songs with costume changes and he never took a single break.
One of my favourite songs from the concert, 你是我今生唯一傳奇 from an old album. The vocals, the music and the lyrics are just filled with so much love and romance, and 学友’s expressions make it easy for you to believe in his love and joy.
原來是你 靠向我手臂 無意地
He then progressed to jazz renditions of a few songs which was not as well-received by the audience. For example, a jazz version of 离开以后 hmmmmm. We agreed that his voice just isn’t all that suited to jazz, it does not feel smooth enough for some reason. Not the technique, just the voice.
An animated sequence of his life events followed, with his song Life Is Like A Dream as the background, showing a baby Jacky growing up into his teens, manhood and finally climaxed with an aged whitehaired Jacky, plenty of wrinkles and looking like an old granddaddy. Ah, the wonders of digital art. This was in line with what he said he wanted to show, the various facets of himself, not just the ballad singer, but also the jazz lover, his life, and his ability to dance. To prove this of course, he followed up with fast-paced dance songs like 饿狼传说 and 头发乱了, and never once did he sound like he was out of breath.
It’s Stan’s first time seeing him up live, and he was also pretty impressed by Jacky’s expressive and throbbing vocals. He basically grew up on music I listened to, so you can count Jacky into one of the many musical influences he had in younger days.
I was quite touched by something he said at the concert – “我不单是个喜欢唱歌的人，我也是个喜欢唱歌给喜欢听我唱歌的歌手.” I know it might not sound like much, but I think showing appreciation to the fans after all these years just strikes a chord.
Listening to the many familiar and classic hits somehow just evokes past memories. Of those times when I would laboriously copy lyrics of his song in the neatest hand I could manage, all in a school exercise book. Of going to sleep with his music, earphones plugged in and Walkman playing. Of learning to sing in Cantonese; because when sung, the dialect is so achingly emotional and beautiful. Of learning how to sing, and loving singing. Of grey days, and how his music was the sole company I had. It’s been eighteen years since I started listening to him, and I’m glad to realise that I’m still a fan and to be reminded of the comfort in his songs back in those gawky and awkward days of my life.
V gets tired easily these days, and she isn’t a big 学友 fan, not the same way I am anyway. She was constantly yawning throughout the concert, coming to something like this after a long day at work isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. But I’m thankful she did not gripe in any way about this night, which allowed me to immerse myself in his music and the entire performance.
The concert ended at 2330hrs, the standard stop time for events at Hisense Arena. No encore, that was it. The last song was 祝福, and I was temporarily reminded of a time long ago, when I was still a nerdy twelve year old in Secondary One attending the first ever Swim Camp at Pasir Ris NTUC chalet. A bunch of us kids, singing along to photocopied lyrics of 学友’s 祝福 from the last page of 星期五日报. Innocent, carefree days long past.