Tao rrific show

[ 30-10-2006 ]

Thirty minutes into David Tao’s concert last Saturday, I was prepared to write it off as just another bland and uninspiring pop concert by yet another Taiwanese artiste.

At that point, hardly anything that Tao delivered that night at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium could suggest that the concert would be anything different from all the other concerts by his peers, which always tend to be predictably uninspiring, and overloaded with sappy ballads or over-produced pop tunes.

Even though he kicked off the show with some pizzazz by literally “descending from the sky”, the first set of songs he sang failed to live up to the dizzying heights of his grand entrance.

However, I should have known not to underestimate Tao. After all, he is now one of the most creative and versatile artistes in Taiwan. Judging by last weekend’s concert (which was part of his Love Can World Tour), that moniker is well earned indeed.

The first of many surprises that night came after his first costume change. Accompanied by a lone pianist, Tao sang a medley of three jazzy numbers, including the classic Chinese song Ye Lai Xiang. It was only during this segment that Tao’s vocals really began to shine through. From then on, the concert was a much more entertaining affair. Tao is definitely one of the most versatile Asian artistes I’ve seen, managing to switch effortlessly from lounge singer mode to hip hop artiste, rock star, rapper and even dabbled in some Chinese opera at one point.

Not many artistes in the Chinese music industry would be able to display such versatility in the recording studio, let alone live on stage, but Tao did just that.

He managed to pull it off effortlessly – switching the mood of the show continuously with ease to include mass pop karaoke sing-alongs with the 12,000-strong crowd, a fiery rock segment and an intimate acoustic session.

The show also included one of the best build-ups to a song in a concert this year – featuring a lone flutist and an er hu player juxtaposed against a backdrop of psychedelic colours, a dreamy sequence that set the mood for the rocking riffs of the song Ghost.It also helped that most of Tao’s songs (many of which he composed himself) were pretty memorable, particularly the 9-11 inspired Dear God, the rocking Art of War, the catchy My Anata, and the touching ballad Everyday (which he sang together with a rather deliriously happy member of the audience who couldn’t keep her hands off him).

To tell the truth, one of the main reasons why the concert was such an entertaining watch was down to Tao’s interaction with his fellow musicians, which ranged from singing duets and dancing with er hu player-cum-backup vocalist Ke Wei, or rapping with guitarist/backup-vocalist David Tan.

Unlike many Chinese pop concerts where the band is usually just backup fodder consigned to the dimmed lights at the back of the stage, Tao’s band of musicians (half of whom were from Malaysia) were a living, breathing part of the show, at times managing to outshine Tao himself.

Ultimately, it was Tao’s willingness to let his fellow musicians shine, and that sheer look of joy on his face to be playing music with them that made this concert one of the best Chinese concerts this year; except for the insipid start.

The David Tao Love Can World Tour Live in Malaysia concert was presented by Hotlink and organised by Galaxy.

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