David Tao Zhe rocked, serenaded and wowed the audience in his David Tao Soul Power tour in Hong Kong recently. Li EE KEE got carried away.
There is something to be said about a singer when some of the industry's renowned crooners take time off to attend his concert.
Although, in the case of David Tao Zhe, one need not require the presence of Anita Mui and Jacky Cheung to affirm what is common knowledge.
Since the release of his self-titled debut album, Tao Zhe, in 1997, Tao has persistently proven his musical artistry to critics and fans alike.
Three album later-I'm OK (1999), Black Tangerine(2002) and his latest effort, Ultrasound 1997-2003, a best of compilation that includes four new tracks- Tao embarks on his first concert tour.
"One of the most difficult things as a singer is not being able to see tour listeners. I'm finally able to," Tao, who alternated between Mandarin, Cantonese and English, revealed during the concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Tao proved to be an adept entertainer, evident from his recently concluded Hong Kong shows. On three consecutive nights beginning Aug 14, over 30,000 local fans joined by some from Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia gathered at the Hong Kong Coliseum to witness Asia's R&B King in action.
Expectation were naturally high. Tao, too, must have felt some pressure. If he did, he did it well.
Clad in a black vest with the word "SOUL" emblazoned in sequins acroos the chest, matched with green cargo pants and guitar strapped across his shoulder, Tao's opening remarks was: "We're gonna rock the house tonight Hong Kong. Ready?"
Despite having performed for the past two nights, each show lasting three hours, Tao showed no sighs of fatigue. He was on an adrenaline high. Thoughout the night he darted across the stage, making his way to the audience, much to their glee.
Lauching into Wang Ba Dan (Bastard), a heavy rock-tinged number that high kicked its way into the concert's opening, its loud rhythms were then tempered with a slow number, Fei ji Change De 10:30(Airport in 10:30)
Tao rendered 28 songs that night ranging from R&B, hip-hop and rock to pop and dance from his four albums. Fans also got to hear three of his new tracks from Ultrasound - the upbeat Jin Tian Mei Hui Jia(Shanghaied), the tender Ji Mo De Ji Jie (season of Loneliness) and inspirational Runway, which tells of how one must be daring in pursuing one's dream.
The US-based singer also presented several numbers a cappella, sometimes accompanied by just the piano, other times by the guitar and violin. Special guest Tension, Tao's protege, performed Ye Lai Xiang and Boyz 2 Men's Its So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.
Other English numbers covered included the classic Somewhere over the Rainbow by Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz movie and U2's I still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.
Unlike many of today's singers whose concerts are glitzy affairs filled with extravagant pomp and splendour, Tao' Soul Power was all about the music minus the frills. No fancy props, skimpily dressed dancers or a dozen costume changes.
Instead, fans were treated to an intimate evening with their favourite singer who serenaded them while backed by an able groups of eight musicians, comprising three guirarists, two drummers, two keyboardists and a violinist. Malaysia's own extablished musicians Lewis Pragasam and Andy Peterson were among the line-up.
"Music isn't just for entertainment," Tao informed fans. "To me, it's something serious. There is power in music. Never underestimate in. My purpose in music is to spread love. That's what Soul Power is about-love, peace and harmony. And being able to share my music with you is a happy thing for me."
But it wasn't all business. Tao entertained, engaging in delightful and at times poignant banter with fans. He let them in on an embarrassing episode at a Mcdonalds outlets in Hong Kong when he was a child. From then on, he realised his Cantonese wasn't exactly his strongest language. (Tao and his family moved to Taiwan when he was a young boy.)
He takes his fans down memory lane, reminiscing his earliest recollection of Hong Kong, from taking the Star Ferry to travelling on the MRT. He revealed that it was in Hong Kong, his birthplace, that he found himself.
Tao also coyly indulged fans with hand-shakes, hugs and for one ecstatic girl, a kiss as a reward for applying lip balm on his lips.
It was evident that the fans enjoyed every minute of their time with him, and vice versa. As he indicated at one point during the concert:"You think you're here to see me but actualy I am here to see you."
After the concert, Tao remark that he was very happy with the fans. Unlike what he had been cautioned earlier, they were warm and responsive - dancing, singing, waving, hooting, clapping and teasing with shouts of "you are so sexy/ good looking" and "Daaavvviiiddd..."
Such reaction was not restrited to teenaged girls, for the guys were in on the action too, showing no inhibition in expressing their love for Tao's music as they waved their glow sticks in sync with tunes.
It was an enjoyable three hours, though there were times when the momentum tended to slow down. As Tao himself admitted, there is still room for improvement.