Home-grown singer Stefanie Sun, 35, was the first pop act to perform at the new National Stadium last Saturday night in front of about 20,000 fans.
It was an especially momentous occasion as her Kepler world tour marks her comeback after marriage in 2011 and childbirth.
Unfortunately, it proved to be something of a bumpy ride.
Her voice was sounding strained on the low and high notes of the fast-paced Infinite Possibilities.
She then asked: “What’s in season in Singapore now? Not me, I was popular 14 years ago.”
The answer turned out to be the flu.
And a few songs later, about midway through the concert, she announced after singing the hit ballad Angel’s Fingerprints: “This is a little awkward. My voice is almost gone.”
She added: “Let’s do our best, okay?” and showed her mettle by holding on for a full-length 2½-hour-long show.
It reminded one of the fact that she was recently rushed to hospital after her concert in Chongqing on June 21, though her subsequent gig in Chengdu on June 28 went off without a hitch.
The evening here had started on a strong note when Sun appeared on an elevated platform in a sparkly black outfit singing her breakthrough hit Cloudy Sky. She greeted the crowd with an enthusiastic: “Woohoo Singapore, I’m back. How, can speak Singlish or not?”
Still, she admitted that she was nervous and that she was nervous for every show because it is always a delicate balance to achieve.
She said: “On stage, you need to relax and have fun. You need to be relaxed but not too slack.”
She was adept at engaging the crowd. At one point, she stage-whispered: “I’ve done about nine shows and this is the quietest one. Is this the Singapore I know?”
Right on cue, the audience erupted into cheers.
Sun, who has always kept her personal life private, even shared a little anecdote about her 1½- year-old son. She said he has a magic finger because whenever he points at a door, or milk or biscuits, the door will open and he will get his milk and biscuits.
“Can I feel what it’s like to be him?” asked Sun. She pointed at the crowd and her fans obliged her by raising the roof.
A concert highlight was the staging of the track Kepler, from her latest album of the same name.
As she stood on a lit doorway atop the planet Earth, the cosmos drifted leisurely behind her, all courtesy of nifty projections. This was the same staging done for the song when she kicked off her tour at Taipei Arena in February.
She had prepared something just for her Singapore stop though. It felt as though National Day had come early when she sang We Will Get There and One United People, the theme songs for the National Day Parade in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
As a venue for pop concerts, the National Stadium gets a mixed score. The overall sound had quite a bit of reverb to it and was rather murky though Sun’s distinctive timbre and evocative singing came through clearly enough.
It was also not the most comfortable viewing experience as with the retractable roof in place, it felt a little warm and stuffy. Thank goodness for the paper fans provided by the show organiser.
The large venue did mean though that more fans could be accommodated in one space and the atmosphere this brought about was great. After her announcement that she was losing her voice, her fans rallied around her, singing along with gusto and shouting out words of encouragement.
It might not have been the perfect homecoming but it was still a triumphant one for Sun.
This article was first published on JULY 7, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.