Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 14 News List

Ten years on, and still going strong

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Expats who've been here for years will know the feeling. Has it really been that long?

Matthew Lien celebrates 10 years in Taiwan's music business with a series of four concerts, beginning tonight in Taipei.

The environmentally aware North American (he doesn't like the eco-musician label) will hold two shows in Taipei, a third in Kaohsiung on Sunday and a final date in Taichung.

In addition to the 12 musicians performing with Lien, will be guests Siki (希巨蘇飛), an Amis Aboriginal singer from Taitung, Taiwanese opera star Yu Yuan-Kan (游源鏗) and the Hakka vocalist Hsei Yu-way (謝宇威).

"It's been about three years since the last sizeable concert I did here so it's about time. It's been about 10 years since I first came, so we're at an interesting point because any kind of concert like this will be retrospective, looking back, reflective," Lien said.

For those who don't know the story, Lien's record Bleeding Wolves launched his career in Taiwan and he's now based here half the time.

His new-agey music and ingenuous lyrics touch a nerve in the Taiwanese psyche but are a little too nostalgic for most Western audiences.

Lien even looks like a throwback to the flower-power generation with his ethnic clothes and longhaired appearance.

"As a teenager I thought I should have been around in the 1960s rather than the 1980s because it was so real and the issues of love, peace, justice - not war - were so important," Lien admitted in a recent interview (Taipei Times, July 12, p14).

Critics might sneer but this naif quality makes him a loyal friend and genuine about issues close to his heart.

Unlike some foreigners who have succeeded here, taken the money and run, Lien has assiduously championed Taiwan.

He organized a concert for victims of the 921 earthquake and has campaigned to improve the environment and boost the profile of local musicians.

He was given a Golden Melody for the best world music album Journey of Water in 2005 and has also won a Golden Bell.

Lien has become so well known here a lot of people don't even know his English name. He's usually referred to as Ma Xiu Lien En (馬修連恩).

"A 10 year anniversary is a great opportunity to celebrate the amount of work I've done with so many people and just say thank you," Lien said.

Expect a tour through the musician's archives and a few new songs, such as the collaboration with Siki about their mutual friend who ended his life by walking into the ocean at Dulan.

The capital's concerts are tonight and tomorrow at the Taipei International Convention Center (國際會議中心), starting 7:45pm. Lien plays at Chihteh Hall, Kaohsiung Cultural Center (至德堂) on Sunday, starting 7:30pm. His final date is at Huisun Hall, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung (台中中興大學惠蓀堂) at 7:45pm.

For more information go to www.dadaarts.net, or call Da Da Arts on (07) 537-0000. Tickets are available at Era Tickets, call (02) 2341-9898 or log onto www.ticket.com.tw. Kingstone bookstores are also selling tickets, call (02) 2781-0987. Prices range from NT$800 to NT$3,000 in Taipei and are slightly cheaper in Kaohsiung and Taichung.

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