What does selling out four nights of concerts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium mean for JJ Lin? Surely, it’s a sign that he’s more popular than Mayday (three nights), A-Mei and EXO (two nights each)… but, ahem, not Jacky Cheung who sold out five nights at the same venue in 2011. But hey, that guy’s a Heavenly King so we’ll let it slide.
It could also mean that JJ’s popularity has reached new heights, which we think could be due in part to his appearance on two seasons of Chinese variety show Dream Voice. Thanks to those viral clips of him, showcasing not just his soaring vocals but also his sublime knack for rearranging famous Mandopop tunes on the show, it seems as though a whole new segment of people have suddenly discovered just how utterly talented the 37-year-old homegrown singer is.
It could also also mean that Singaporeans are falling all over themselves to welcome home the Singapore boy, who has spent most of his career doing the country proud in Taiwan, and in recent years, China. It brings us to the opening moment of the first night of his four shows here. JJ, suspended in mid-air and wrapped up in a white cocoon, slowly breaking free before transforming into a white butterfly and launching into ‘A Thousand Years Later’. [It’s a lot more macho when you see it onstage than how it sounds here]. We get the message: JJ Lin is all grown up now. Though we think it wouldn’t be too far off to say that the addendum to that message was: And he’s here to show just how much he has blossomed.
We have no doubt that the former Anglo-Chinese School boy is one of the best singers right now in Mandopop. After all, netizens don’t call him the ‘The Walking CD’ — you know, ‘cos of his pitch perfect, album quality live performances — for no reason. His vocals on songs like ‘Practice Love’, ’53 Dawns’, ‘River South’ and ‘Those Were The Days’ showed that he had not only had total control of his octave-vaulting instrument, but also of the audience who could not help but sing along, you know, like they were in a karaoke or in their car and a JJ song comes on.
He also further showcased his vocal prowess in a ‘jamming’ segment that featured special guest star Grammy-winning producer David Foster, where the latter played the piano and JJ belted out English songs like Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, Josh Groban’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ and Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself’. It showed us what we’ve always known. That when you have a God-given voice like JJ’s, all you need to do is to just stand there and sing.
Not that we’re saying we didn’t enjoy the special effects or the pyrotechnics or the stage production, which was, of course, top-notch. We marveled especially at the stage setup, which was made up of movable video screens and platforms. When he sang ‘Paper Clouds’, JJ perched himself on one of the screens high above the stage and dangled his legs precariously off the edge, as clouds drifted across the screen. But if someone were to tell us that the extent of JJ’s stagecraft would be just a piano, a guitar and microphone, we would still park ourselves on the Sportshub website to jostle for tickets.
He has his boundless charisma to back him up anyway. “It’s always different [to perform] at home. Correct or not?” he asked the audience at the beginning of the concert, before asking for permission to speak Singlish for the rest of the night. It’s almost never that you hear Singaporean neighborhoods like Tampines and Bedok get name-checked in the Indoor Stadium during a pop concert, or that a major star makes everyone do the Kallang Wave, simply because he can and ’cos he actually knows what the Kallang Wave is about. But all that happened ’cos JJ Lin is that very rare superstar who knows what it’s like to be Singaporean.
And so when he revealed how he used to be sing back-up at this same venue for another one of Singapore’s national treasures, the lovely Kit Chan, who JJ pointed out was sitting in the audience, it wasn’t just hope that the 8,000 fans were feeling, but patriotic pride as well.
Photos: JFJ Productions & Unusual Entertainment.