They came, nearly 40,000 people saw them, and they rocked.
Fans of Linkin Park began lining up early Friday morning for the best spots on the field and in the stands at Zhongshan Football Stadium (中山足球場), for what organizers touted as Taiwan's highest-selling foreign concert since Michael Jackson.
Despite light drizzle and a start that was delayed by 40 minutes, people arrived chanting "Linkin Park, Linkin Park," and when the California nu-metal band finally took to the stage, the 38,000 mostly young fans in attendance broke into a frenzy of cheers and shouts.
The chanting continued throughout the concert, with rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda - who was clearly the crowd favorite - in the front, and singer Chester Bennington bouncing around the stage shouting vocals in a heavy-metal rasp. Linkin Park played electronica, rapcore and heavy metal numbers during their 100-minute show and had fans begging for more. Their stellar performance, combined with the fact that tickets sold out, will hopefully make Taipei a more enticing destination for other international acts.
Meanwhile, across town at the Crown Theater (皇冠藝文中心), LAN Creators (嵐創作體) were making a little music of their own, though to a noticeably smaller audience and theater. I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, which opened Nov. 3 to great reviews and continues until Nov. 30, is a musical that you don't want to miss.
The Weekender watched a performance in the first week that, though the singing was top notch and the acting quite good, suffered from many technical problems (the crew could be seen for much of the performance) that served to distract the audience. But these glitches were ironed out by the second week when technical staff were hidden, as they should be, and the actors were feeling more comfortable with their roles. Of particular note was the hip and live musical score. Tickets for the remaining performances are NT$750 and NT$1,500 and are available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw.
Over at Taipei's Novel Hall (新舞台), Rainbow Skirt and Feather Robe (霓裳羽衣), which opened last Thursday for two performances, won rapturous applause from audiences there to see virtuoso nanguan singer Wang Xinxin (王心心) perform a nanguan arrangement based on the libretto of Hong Sheng's (洪昇) Qing dynasty masterpiece The Hall of Longevity (長生殿).
Wang commanded the stage as the story's narrator, and to a large extent made the mimed drama that accompanied the music irrelevant. The additional dramatic cast, brought in from Quanzhou (泉州), China to complement the musical performance with a visual and dramatic element, was at no stage an integral part of the performance, and while not unattractive to look at, did not add much to the impact of Wang's own performance.
Singing accompanied only by a pipa and Chinese flute, Wang had magnificent presence on stage, and presented the songs with all the formal beauty that one expects from nanguan. Li Yaling (李雅玲), who performed the role of Lady Yang, did some lovely poses, but served more as a clothes rack for the costumes. At rehearsals before the show, Wang said that it was necessary to incorporate diverse elements if new audiences were to be won over to the ancient art of nanguan, but this process of integration still has some way to go to become truly effective.