Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Jay Chou crowns himself the king of Mando-pop

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

It takes a bold man to title his own tour "Incomparable," but, as the king of Mando-pop, Jay Chou (周杰倫) can get away with it -- if only by a hair.

Starting with his entrance onto the stage at Taipei Municipal Stadium on Saturday night, by being lowered from the rafters on a glowing bright red crucifix, the show was an extravagant statement of Jay's status within the pantheon of Taiwanese pop music.

And the crowd of at least 20,000 who turned up under threatening skies indulged him every step of the way by singing along through all but the newest songs. They even shrugged off Jay's occasional stumbling over his own lyrics.

"I can never remember my lyrics. Thanks for filling in the gaps there," he joked after the crowd eased him through Tornado (龍捲風). No one was going to hold it against him.

There were also a few awkward audio adjustments at the beginning to make Jay audible over the two drum sets, a bank of extremely enthusiastic back-up singers, a couple of keyboards and three guitars that threatened to smother his voice.

Yet by the fourth song, when he blasted into Yeh Hui-mei (葉惠美), the title track off his fourth album, the sound was crisp. By then the crowd was singing loudly back at him and drowning out his voice.

Jay was on his own, though, through most of his fast rap songs and defied his critics by nailing his lines while keeping step with his dancers through a jamming Aborigine-flavored medley, Father I'm Back (爸我會來了), off his second album Fantasy.

In the middle of another dance routine moments later, he answered a call on his cellphone, saying: "Hey, I can't talk right now, I'm giving a concert," and then hung up right on cue as the beat came back in. It was all perfectly executed and the kids went wild.

He slowed things down a bit with a short set of acoustic songs, including Clear Stars (星晴) from his eponymous first album, and Love me, don't leave me (愛我別走) by Chang Chen-yue (張震嶽), a perennial KTV favorite that reverberated off the stadium's grandstands.

A two-song interlude by Jay's Alfa Music label-mates Nanquan Ma-ma (南拳媽媽) provided some unintended comic relief by singing so outrageously off-key that people covered their ears and winced. It wasn't as painful as the sound of nails being dragged across a blackboard, but it was bad enough. When Jay mercifully took the stage again he apologized for the upstart boyband's abysmal vocal skills.

Landy (溫嵐) also made a brief appearance and showed off her trademark butt-shaking moves. She drew gasps for her revealing boustier.

But the night belonged to Jay and if the crucifix routine hadn't made that point, then he drove it home with a ripping medley of Luanwu Chun Qiu (亂舞春秋) off the new album and Nun-chuks (雙截棍) from Fantasy.

Having hit that high, he made his first exit with Simple Love (簡單愛) and then returned for the song everyone had been waiting for -- Jasmine (七里香), the string-filled title track off his newest album that's been the summer's Mando-pop anthem.

Having gotten what they came for, namely pyrotechnics and a handful of hits, fans started to stream out of the stadium. But Jay returned again to the stage for an anti-climactic rendition of his two contributions to the Hidden Track soundtrack.

After an evening of fireworks, flame-throwers and a solid performance by a singer who's forte is not live concerts, the finale was lackluster by comparison, but as always, the kids screamed in approval. After all, Jay can do no wrong.

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