Fri, Mar 07, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Bobby Chen back, and better than ever

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Bobby Chen in concert.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DADA

A mellowed Bobby Chen (陳昇), Taiwan's wild man of pop, and his New Treasure Island Band (新寶島康樂隊) will be hitting the road this week, when the pop/rock idol and his combo embark on a mini-tour of the nation's two "other" metropolises, beginning with a performance in Kaohsiung tomorrow evening.

Stamping his pop/rock mark on the local music scene in 1988 following the almost overnight success of his debut album, Crowded Paradise (擁擠的樂園), Chen's reputation for hard drinking and even greater womanizing was soon as legendary as his music was popular. Chen's rock-star lifestyle came to an abrupt halt, however, last June after an altercation in a Taipei restaurant in which Chen was hit over the head with a wine bottle.

The fracas might have been put down to high spirits -- no pun intended -- but the actual results of the heated exchange were far from jovial. Chen was hospitalized for several weeks during which time he underwent major surgery to remove blood clots from his brain.

Chen returned to the stage for the first time since surgery with a concert late last year. His longtime bad-boy onstage persona had been dropped, for health reasons.

Not that the lack of alcoholic sustenance has effected Chen's performances. According to more than one local music critic, Chen's teetotaling has not only meant that the talented guitarist's shows are now sharper.

The mini-tour, dubbed (Hito 曲), which, will see Chen performing a set filled with some of his most popular tunes.

Along with his New Treasure Island Band, Chen will be joined on stage by Aboriginal singer Ah Von (Von).

Originally making a name for himself in the dancehalls of several of Kenting's high-end hotels, Ah Von has moved. Since taking over from Chen's longtime musical cohort and mentor, Huang Lien-yu (黃連煜), the aboriginal singer has become adept at hitting all the right rock and pop loaded notes.

While Chen will only be performing at two venues in the coming weeks, he feels it should pacify his central and southern fans while he finishes his latest studio project -- an album, which, while as yet untitled, is due out this summer.

Bobby Chen will be hitting the stage of Kaohsiung Cultural Center's Chih Teh Hall (高雄市立文化中心至德堂) at 7:30pm tomorrow evening. Tickets cost between NT$700 and NT$1,500 and are available at ERA ticketing. In Taichung, Chen will perform at Chungshan Hall (台中市中山堂) at 7:30pm next Saturday.

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