Singer Engelbert Humperdinck proves he’s still got it after all these years.
Contributed By Wayne Chan
| CN PHOTO: Gay Sen Min
Still looking dapper at 74, chart-topping crooner Engelbert Humperdinck wowed his audience at the Singapore leg of his Legacy of Love world tour last Thursday with a string of evergreen hits, while showing off some fancy footwork that would have made Michael Jackson smile.
Stepping on stage without any fanfare, Humperdinck went straight into his first song “Love Flow” after a charmingly unassuming self-introduction, “Hi, I’m Engelbert Humperdinck, how are you?”
Decked out in a black suit, white embroidered shirt and long auburn sideburns, Humperdinck looked like a cast member straight out of the vintage silver screen classic Gone with the Wind, but there was nothing old about his unmistakably deep and powerful voice.
It was like a trip down memory lane, a joyride through nostalgia junction for his greying audience, who hardly broke out of character as they mostly sat still in their seats, albeit with heads craning forward to get a better glimpse of the living legend.
Humperdinck made several attempts to break the ice with his reserved audience, attempting to say “Good evening,” in Mandarin before jesting that his audience must be thinking, “43 years have gone by but he still looks so young,” to which was met with much laughter from the crowd.
The audience finally started warming up to their idol, showing their affection by singing along softly as Humperdinck belted out the fifth song of the night, his 1968 hit, “Man Without Love.” With a toast to his audience, Humperdinck turned up the heat by inviting a female member of the audience up on stage to join him for a song.
The mother of three, Roseanne, was made to sit on a chair and asked to hold up a giant lyric sheet to her chest while Humperdinck sang off it. Before he was even past his first line, Roseanne began to tear uncontrollably as Humperdinck continued to serenade her in front of an instantly energized crowd. The first climax of the evening came when he climbed onto her and began to do a lap dance, unbuttoning his shirt and leading her hand to stroke his sweaty 74-year-old chest, all the while remaining pitch perfect and maintaining eye contact with the now-delirious woman.
Then, like a seasoned lover, he turned the flame down to a simmer and did his own version of James Blunt’s “Goodbye My Lover” as the audience began to sway along. Humperdinck then broke out into some cha-cha-cha with “Quando,” getting everyone to clap along for the first time.
From that moment on, he had the audience eating out of his hand and mouthing every word he sang as he belted out all his best hits in rapid succession starting with everyone’s favorite ballroom number, “Last Waltz,” and ending off with his first number one hit, “Release Me.”
Humperdinck then shared his story of how he was struggling for a breakthrough when he recorded the latter track in 1967, crediting it all to the “great help from God.” The rest, as they say, is history, as “Release Me” and subsequent hits took him round the world to places he said he never imagined he would have traveled to. Since then, Humperdinck’s musical legacy has included sales of an astounding 150 million albums worldwide, including 64 Gold and 24 Platinum.
With his appreciative audience now showering him with wild applause, the veteran showman then feigned an exit from the stage before returning to belt out two more numbers. As he brought the show to a resounding close with the well-known song all old men like to murder at your neighborhood karaoke joint, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation. Humperdinck himself slipped into a bright red bathrobe, got into a boxing stance and threw some punches into the air before running off stage as the applause reached a crescendo.
Wearing wistful looks on their faces, the crowd filtered quietly out of the stadium hall, with some stopping to buy Humperdinck’s latest CDs, A Taste of Country and Legacy of Love. Indeed, Humperdinck’s brand of haunting love ballads has truly stood the test of time, even stirring the heart of this writer nearly half a decade after they were first released, as he headed home dreaming of romance and Spanish eyes.