Playful time at Jolin's gig

Playful time at Jolin's gig
PHOTO: IMC Live Group, The New Paper

JOLIN TSAI 2015 PLAY WORLD TOUR - SINGAPORE | Singapore Indoor Stadium/Last Saturday

Jolin Tsai is ready to have some fun. Taking its cue from the title of her 2014 album, the Taiwanese singer's world tour is titled Play.

And it has inspired an enjoyable concert staged with flair and imagination, playing to her strength as a sexy dancing diva.

The pint-sized dynamo made quite a statement with her entrance, performing the song Medusa with a headpiece of silvery, slithery snakes - yes, they moved. Like the Gorgon of myth, she challenged you to tear your eyes away from her.

Point made, off came the headpiece and on came the slinky moves as she worked the four-sided stage tirelessly.

She commanded: "Move your a**", and soon had the crowd of around 7,500 up on their feet.

And we had yet to even hit the first costume change.

One of the highlights was seeing Tsai in a 1920s flapper get-up, incorporating dance moves from the era into her choreography.

It certainly helped that her posse of sexy and statuesque dancers looked like they just came from an audition for the musical Chicago. The sly subversion of gender roles added a playful edge as some of the men danced in high heels.

While the 34-year-old has made her reputation on high-octane, energetic numbers, the singer can hold her own as a vocalist as well, at more moderate tempos.

When she performed hit ballads Rewind and The Smell Of Lemongrass on a slowly revolving dais, the stage was cleverly transformed into a cosy jazz club as the dancers sat at tables in groups of twos and threes and listened.

To keep things fresh, some of the songs were given a new twist.

The triumphant dance track The Great Artist, the 2013 Golden Melody Award winner for best song of the year, had its tempo slowed down and then revved back up again.

And the ballad Sky was presented as a mash-up with Singapore singer Stefanie Sun's Encounter.

The controversial We're All Different, Yet The Same, banned from Singapore's radio and television for its homosexual content, was presented as a broader anthem of inclusion and acceptance as it was preceded by a video clip about a wheelchair-bound young woman.

It was clear that attention to detail had been paid to every aspect of the show, from the music to the engaging staging, which drew on everything from high art to mass-market pop culture.

One prop resembled a giant version of British artist Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull sculpture, while in another segment, Tsai was a Barbie doll who came to life and broke out of her box.

In another beautiful set-up, the stage morphed into an underwater palace and she reigned from a raised platform which looked as though it was surrounded by glass seaweed.

For the most part, she kept her patter to a minimum, perhaps to conserve energy for the demanding dance routines.

She opened up towards the end of the three-hour show though, sharing that local musicians, brothers Paul and Peter Lee, were her earliest producers.

Turning back the clock to 1999, she performed her first single, Living With The World.

Since that debut track, the artist has grown in maturity and confidence and it came through over the course of the show and in her assured interaction with her devoted fans.

Be it taking selfies with the crowd or pumping up the energy level, Tsai was always in control and she made it look as easy as child's play.

This article was first published on July 27, 2015.
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