King of Hokkien hits, Hong Rong Hong, performs for the first time in Singapore in his 25-year career.
Contributed By Chng Shi Jie
|CN PHOTO: Kenneth Xavier Tan|
If you’re a fan of Hong Rong Hong, also known as the “King Of Hokkien Hits,” it was a concert well overdue. For the first time in his 25-year career, the popular Taiwanese singer and TV host performed live in Singapore, on Nov. 28 at the Esplanade—and what an impression he made.
The affable multi-award winner, who has scooped up several Best Hokkien Male singer awards at the annual Taiwan Golden Melody Awards, put up a heartfelt 38-song performance, backed by a 7-piece band. The audience responded appreciatively with vigorous claps and cheers as 17 numbers were belted out even before the first intermission.
Ranging from Chinese to Hokkien, from sappy ballads to dance numbers, Hong peeled back the years with each song—it seemed as if not many days have passed since the man with an impressive 3,000 songs (and counting) to his name first wowed fans with his captivating, soulful vocals and nifty dance moves. Add to that the fact that the singer, with his toned physique, did not even sound breathless as he effortlessly breezed through each song. It spoke volumes about the dedication and preparation that must have been undertaken to ensure the success of this concert.
In between songs the singer shared about his father, the late Hong Yi Feng, a musical legend in his own right who was widely acknowledged as one of Taiwan’s national treasures. His speech was peppered with audible pride as he reminisced about his father and the songs he wrote for his son. Despite not being able to have as many of his father’s compositions on his CD releases as he would like, he described the songs as “enduring” and proceeded to sing some of them.
Moving on, he sang a song by Mandopop king, Jay Chou, showcasing his flexibility and showmanship to great effect. He even quipped that he hoped that “the audience could make out what I was singing,” in a cheeky reference to Chou’s tendency to mumble when he sings. He also added that frequent collaborations with artistes both contemporary and from the past was a testament to his own staying power, and that he was not just a flash in the pan.
The second half of the performance took on an even more emotional tone, as Hong revealed his reason for opening a record store to showcase his father’s works—“to show the world how good my dad was.” He also talked about how he had to curtail his foray into the Japanese market because his parents were going through a divorce.
Well-known for his unique Japanese- style of singing Hokkien and Mandarin songs, Hong also covered a Japanese song by one of the most famous Chinese singers of all time—Teresa Teng. During the encore, Hong took to the keyboard and played what was to be the last item of the night.
A 58-year-old grandmother, who came with seven of her long-time friends, remarked, “He sounds exactly like he does on the CD, but it is just different seeing your idol in person.” That summed up a good night, which, as with all good nights, ended far too quickly. Hong has indeed made an indelible mark among his Singaporean fans with this first (of many, hopefully) live performances.