Sodagreen still so cool

Sodagreen still so cool
Lead vocalist Wu Ching-feng of Taiwanese band sodagreen performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 30 August 2014.

Review Concert

Sodagreen air world tour 

Singapore Indoor Stadium/Last Saturday

Has it really been 10 years?

Taiwanese band sodagreen once sang Shi Nian Yi Ke, literally Ten Years One Moment, and it has been one long glorious moment since they released their first single Air back in 2004.

They have grown from an indie outfit with an uncertain future to one of Mandopop's biggest bands whose popularity continues to grow. Their show this time was their largest in Singapore yet as they played at the Indoor Stadium for the first time before an audience of 6,000.

Lead vocalist Wu Ching-feng had caught a cold but it did not affect his distinctive nasal, high-pitched and crystalline pipes one bit. And drummer Shih Chun-wei (Hsiao-wei), who injured his foot skateboarding, banged on valiantly.

Nothing was going to stop the band from celebrating their 10th anniversary here.

Things got off to a rousing start with the rocking Fever, followed by two firm fan favourites, Little Universe and Little Love Song. The latter, in particular, was greeted with much excitement as it is a ballad that the band have rarely performed in recent years as Wu had wearied of it.

Musically, the band have never been one to keep still and they took the opportunity to refresh familiar songs with new arrangements.

The lilting joyousness of Daylight was dressed up with a coat of synth-and- drums that gave it a psychedelic flavour.

Production was top-notch from the video imagery to the lighting effects to the rotating raised platforms and it was always in service to the material. Each song was given given the space to reveal its truth and beauty.

One dramatic highlight was seeing Wu on a platform in mid-air, suspended against a backdrop of a night sky with flickering stars. Tinkling the piano, he gave a spare and moving rendition of Faye Wong's Sky. Apart from the gorgeous melodies and Wu's unforgettable singing, sodagreen's songs are also known for their poetic lyrics that take on everything from urban discontent to meditations on the seasons and yearnings of the heart. And the words had pride of place on a centrally placed screen right above the stage.

But on the thrilling fast-paced numbers such as Theory Of Relativity IV, even flashing the lyrics on the screen did not help fans.

Wu quipped: "Hard to follow, right? I once said I wouldn't sing this past 30, what's it doing on this tour?"

It was yet another fun incident in the Wu Ching-feng variety show, in which he teased band members mercilessly ("Who is here for Chia-kai's body? I'll return you your money," he says, referring to guitarist Liu Chia-kai, and kept the audience laughing with his dry humour and cutting observations. He could also be suddenly earnest, cajoling the crowd to pretend to be happy when he announces that it is time for the final song - just so he could know what that feels like.

There is no question, though, that sodagreen are a full-fledged band and not just the Wu Ching-feng show. Bassist Hsieh Hsin-yi, guitarists Ho Ching-yang (A-fu) and Liu, keyboardist Kung Yu-chi (A-kung) and Hsiao-wei have a hand in creating and shaping the band's output.

And they are all accomplished musicians as well, often on more than one instrument. A-kung not only wowed the crowd with his violin-playing skills, he also danced up a storm towards the end of the three-hour show.

The day of the concert happened to be Wu's 32nd birthday but he shushed fans who tried to get a birthday song going. He explained that he hated birthdays, in part because he was not sure exactly what he was meant to celebrate. But he added poignantly that he felt alive every time he sang on stage.

When sodagreen sang Flying Fish in a darkened hall, the audience provided the percussion by clapping rhythmically along. We are all sodagreen and we are all alive.

bchan@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Sept 1 in The Straits Times.

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