David Tao - a blast of a good time

[ 16-09-2003 ]

David Tao Zhe’s Soul Power Tour concert rocked the 15,000-odd crowd at Stadium Merdeka and LI EE KEE came away singing praises for it.
IF A one-line review would suffice, I would say David Tao Zhe’s Soul Power Tour concert in Malaysia was a blast.

For those who weren’t there, yeah, you may say you didn’t miss anything. But if you were, you would know how much fun you had at possibly one of the year’s best Chinese concerts (in Malaysia, of course).

And if one person amongst the close to 15,000 gathered at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, last Saturday got Tao’s message of love, compassion and understanding (hint: the video recordings about the importance of hugging and how the most beautiful asset of a city is its people), Tao has succeeded in his purpose.

As expected, the show started later than scheduled but it was worth the waiting.

Wang Ba Dan (Bastard) set the proceedings in motion. Its kick-butt rhythm and lyrics were the perfect pick to get fans roused. Next up was the song that had the public asking, “Who is Tao Zhe?” five years ago, the R&B tinged Airport. Quicksand and 22 followed subsequently.

Twenty-eight songs were performed that night encompassing his three previous albums: Tao Zhe (1997), I’m OK (1999) and Black Tangerine (2002). He also rendered Shanghaied, Runaway and Season of Loneliness from his latest, Ultrasound 1997-2003, a best of compilation with four new tracks. Each song was lapped up by fans with relish.

Tao also covered Zhang Hui Mei, popularly known as A-Mei’s, High High High, which was produced by him (quite fitting too considering A-Mei is scheduled to stage her concert here soon), and delivered an imaginative reinterpretation of Teresa Teng’s classic, Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin (The Moon Represents My Heart) with a tinge of R&B flavour.

In addition, he sung two English numbers – the acappella staple Boyz II Men’s Its So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday with protégé and guest artiste Tension, and from Tao’s favourite band U2, the stirring anthem I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, which was given a twist at the end as Tao tellingly revised it to, “But I think I have found what I’m looking for”.

There was little that was lacking in Tao’s presentation. Every song was delivered with his heart and soul. Without having to worry about dance moves and which costume he had to change into next, Tao focused solely on what really mattered – his music.

Be it a cappella, unplugged or with the backing of a full band, Tao demonstrated he is indeed the real deal.

Proving his versatility, Tao shifted effortlessly from the hard-hitting Black Tangerine before taking it a notch down with a soulful rendition of the romantic Blue Moon, only to later pick up the groove with the hip-hop influenced beats of Shanghaied. The singer-songwriter-producer on stage was no doubt an entertainer.

Anyone can sing after a few lessons but to move crowds of thousands and hold their attention for close to three hours require a certain charm that few possess. A natural on stage, Tao enthralled fans of all ages.


Even when Tension took to the stage, the spotlight never shied away from Tao. During their a cappella routine, Tao took everyone’s breath away with his amazing vocal abilities (think Whitney Houston when her notes go on forever) and proved that the teacher was still the master.

As he had made clear in his promo visit a few weeks back, Tao went all out in his one-night concert. Running to and fro on stage despite having sung his lungs out earlier, he was the Energizer bunny in action.


Tao rocking it with bassist Andy Peterson from his
13-member band.

Kudos too must go to his band. The 13-member band, of which five were Malaysia’s well-known musicians – violinist Joanne Yeoh, drummer Lewis Pragasam, bassist Andy Peterson, guitarist Ajit and the self-confessed “mat salleh sesat” Jamie Wilson (hubby of famous songbird Ruhil, who was there to support him) – matched up to Tao’s energetic display. Like him, they were having a rolling good time and their wonderful camaraderie was infectious.

And lest you think back-up vocals should remain in the background, well, think again. One of the highlights that night was when Tao’s “little chickadees”, all five of them, came out to play, taking centrestage with Tao as they sang along with him on Kungpao Chicken and My Anata. Their hilarious antics were absolutely adorable as were the people themselves.

Tao’s fans were a great crowd, coming from as far as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and even Africa (the latter being the running joke of the night). They sang, waved and danced. It was a sight to behold.

Little wonder that Tao may have felt somewhat emotional as he spread his arms wide and hugged everyone. Gosh, even I got a bit misty-eyed. Malaysians really rocked that night.

Not forgetting a special mention to the security personnel. Some may criticise them for their killjoy attitude, including Tao, but they were just doing their job.

Having been fortunate enough to to witness his Hong Kong edition of the Soul Power Tour (thanks to organiser Galaxy Production and presenter Tiger Power Hitz), and having watched his Malaysian performance, while there were only minor differences (even the jokes were recycled), nothing beat the atmosphere of home – seated in the historic Stadium Merdeka (compared to the covered Hong Kong Coliseum) under a clear night sky with the Petronas Twin Towers illuminating in the background and surrounded by thousands of really swinging Malaysians.

I may still be reeling from the lack of hearing in my left ear; no thanks to being seated right smack in front of the huge speakers, but it was worth it. And if anyone asks, I was there at David Tao’s Soul Power Tour concert.

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