SINGAPORE - Stirring vocals, a parade of hit songs and top-notch stage production made the JJ Lin Sanctuary World Tour one of the best concerts of the year.
The home-grown Mandopop star made a dramatic entrance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Aug 15 when a tall curtain enclosing a small circle dropped with a flourish. Before a crowd of 8,000, he appeared suspended in mid-air cocooned in white and spinning head over heels slowly. He transformed into a white butterfly, complete with white "wings", for the opening hit ballad A Thousand Years Later.
This was the first of four sold-out shows, a feat eclipsed only by Hong Kong's Heavenly King Jacky Cheung, who pulled off five nights at the same venue in 2011.
Any concerns that Lin might be pacing himself were banished with an assured, full-on three-hour-plus gig.
He dug deep into his body of work with songs from his second album Haven (2004) such as Mermaid and his breakout hit River South alongside more recent hits Little Big Us and Bu Wei Shei Er Zuo De Ge (Twilight).
A party segment highlighted his faster paced tracks from Bu Chao Bu Yong Hua Qian (High Fashion) to Yin Ni Er Zai (You N Me).
As a songwriter, he has penned hits for the likes of Taiwanese singers A-mei (Remember) and Cyndi Wang (Dang Ni, Whenever) and he reclaimed them for his own here.
Each song was well-served by the lighting, the accompanying visuals and the dynamic stage.
The dark love song Killa was performed to stark black and white visuals and red-for-danger lighting.
At other times, the video screens above the stage moved about like a giant mobile. For the number Jian Yun Zhe (Paper Clouds), clouds rolled by lazily across the drifting screens with Lin performing atop them.
The singer-songwriter's musicality was in full display as he sang, danced and played the piano and guitar.
It was also evident when he jammed with his guest star, veteran Canadian songwriter and music producer David Foster. The latter would start to play one of his big hits on the piano and Lin would start to sing along. The woe-is-me vibe of All By Myself did not quite jibe with the concert's mood, though the segment gave Lin a chance to do some power belting in English.
Back on home ground, the Taipei-based star was in a relaxed mood, busting out Singlish and pointing out guests such as local singer Kit Chan, for whom he had sung back-up when he was 19.
Even a recalcitrant microphone stand failed to faze him as he deftly joked: "I think I might need someone to hold this for me."
Later, reading the placards held up by fans, he ticked off places in China, Malaysia and even Toronto, before cheekily reeling off local neighbourhoods from Tampines to Kallang. On the spur of the moment, Lin asked for a "Kallang Wave" and the crowd rose to the occasion with a beautifully executed one.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.