It was a birthday bash like no other. A day after turning 28 on 28 March 2009, Singapore singer-songwriter JJ Lin brought the roof down at the Singapore Indoor Stadium when he gave an 8,000-strong local crowd the first taste of his JJ World Tour 2009.
|PHOTOS: Daniel Poh
Opening the concert with a slick hip-hop solo dance number, Lin sang a staggering 30-odd repertoire of songs, which included familiar hits like ‘编号 89757’ (‘No. 89757’), ‘江南’ (‘River South’) and ‘曹操’ (‘Cao Cao’) in addition to songs from his latest album Sixology. Watching him alternate effortlessly between unplugged ballads and easy pop ditties, there was no doubt that Lin had come into his own as a musician, vocalist and song-writer. It was a vast departure from his first concert in 2006, which featured more gimmicky, thematic role-playing and stage effects.
As the evening progressed, Lin spontaneously built warm rapport with his fans, bantering and joking as though he was facing a group of eight instead of 8,000. Every now and then, a fan would let rip with a frenzied scream, leading Lin to respond with the wit of a stand-up comedian. He was polished, yet completely at ease.
Hearts swooned further when he handpicked a starstruck female fan to sit with him on stage as he played the song ‘Baby Baby’. When it ended, both disappeared off the stage on a descending platform, escalating the crowd’s cheers to an almost ultrasonic pitch.
Drawing some of the biggest laughs that night, however, was Lin’s spitting parody of two famous names in pop music — Jacky Cheung and Michael Jackson. He mimicked the former King of Pop’s entire moonwalking and crotch-grabbing routine. Singaporean celebrity twin sisters BY2 and Taiwanese singer Fan WeiQi held their own well as guest performers, giving Lin time to change and take a breather.
On a more heartwarming note, he shared with the crowd about a rough period he went through two years ago, and thanked God and his loved ones for helping him bounce back. In fact, he displayed a spiritual conviction rarely seen in secular concert settings, as he repeatedly professed his Christian faith, especially at the timely recovery of his voice for the evening’s show.
He also shared about how much music meant to him, as he candidly professed to his audience that he wasn’t very linguistically-inclined in expressing himself. Although it wasn’t anything profoundly revelatory, it definitely helped to bring the audience one step closer to him.
In a Singapore exclusive, Lin’s family appeared on stage alongside him and delivered a rousing performance with his mum on the pipa, his dad on the erhu and his brother on the piano. The display of familial solidarity was one of the most emotionally-charged moments of the evening, as Lin called it “a birthday present to remember for life”.
In addition to his affectionate camaraderie with the crowd, he had little surprises in store. The star sent everyone groping beneath their seats for a “birthday surprise”, which he had hidden randomly around the hall for 100 lucky fans. It turned out to be a white envelope containing a personally hand-autographed picture of him, a much-appreciated personal gift to his fans.
Watching an international superstar performing live is exhilarating, but watching one of our very own make good — that’s priceless.