Sammi Cheng: Heart-stopping Heavenly Queen

There are three Singapore connections at Sammi Cheng’s Touch Mi World Tour 2014 concert, now playing in Hong Kong – celebrity make-up artist Zing, composer Dick Lee and composer-singer Hanjin Tan.

Four, if you count the pockets of screaming Singapore fans who meet on fan forums and fly to Hong Kong together.

Hong Kong-based Tan, 38, a Singapore singercomposer-music producer, was sitting with his wife in the front row last Monday night.

Cheng picked him out during the audience-handshake segment. He had performed at her Love Mi 2009-2010 concert series, impressing with his renditions of songs such as Wham’s Last Christmas.

Dick Lee, 58, earns honourable mention each time Cheng sings her new song Chase Again, which is dedicated to people suffering from depression. It was composed by Lee and written by Lin Xi 20 years after they created Chase for Heavenly King Leslie Cheung.

Cheng told the audience she could identify with the pain within as she had battled depression some years back. She said: “I’m sure Gor Gor will be very happy to hear this song.” Gor Gor is Cantonese for Big Brother, the nickname for the late Cheung, who leapt to his death in 2003.

Cheng had hit a trough of despair after her break-up with singer Andy Hui in 2004 after a 22-year-long, on-again off-again courtship and filming the tragic lead character in Stanley Kwan’s Everlasting Regret (2005). She locked herself away for a spell and finally overcame her battle with depression to stage her Show Mi World Tour in 2007, where she read out an inspiring letter she wrote to herself and her fans.

She and Hui reconciled two years ago and held a small engagement (or wedding, no one knows for sure) ceremony in Bali in November last year. Hui has not appeared on stage so far, but photos show him backstage as well as at the VIP stand cheering away.

Hong Kong-based Zing, who is in his 40s, painted the iconic Nike eyebrow for Sammi’s X Live 1996 and dragonhorn eyebrows for her Show Mi 2007. This time, the Singaporean’s concept for her eyes was “rainbow colours for Christmas”.

Obviously pleased with the result, Cheng posted on her Facebook page: “Ah Zing’s use of colour and balance for very dramatic eyebrows has given me the strength to perform.”

Dramatic would be a euphemism to describe the Cantopop Queen’s 12 sold-out concerts at the Hong Kong Coliseum. The shows started on Dec 20 and will stretch till Friday.

The concerts are highly anticipated as the last time she had staged her Love Mi spectacular at the Coliseum was four years ago. This Touch Mi World Tour series will most likely be held in Genting and Singapore next year, but details are not finalised.

Indeed, Cheng was on fire as she sang, bouncing and dancing with explosive energy. There were a few heart-stopping moments, such as when she rose up on stage, held by a dancer and sang upside-down. One slip and the intrepid Heavenly Queen would have landed on her head. She also did a “trust” backward jump from high above and planked – backwards again – into a sea of dancers.

The show pulsated with dazzling pyrotechnics and lasers, dangling chariots and cubicles, a stage that heaved and morphed like the Transformers, and sexy and muscular dancers.

Blink an eye and you might miss Cheng’s famous chameleonic changes. Apart from sheer leotards and snow-white punkish tutus, she also flaunts a gorgeous wardrobe of haute couture outfits. These include a Swarovski x Feverish unicorn headgear with jewelstudded biker jacket for the opener; a pink Elsa Schiaparelli Couture gown; a Georges Chakra couture black gown; and six-inch Giuseppe Zanotti ankle boots. She also appeared in a white Grecian see-through gown.

Hot a cappella quartet C AllStar appear every night to reprise their 2010 chart-busting hit Sky Ladder, the first Cantopop song to accumulate 9,896,746 hits on YouTube. Group member Kenny Chan also duets with Cheng in a new take of her song, Time, from her 2002 Superwoman album.

A-list guest stars, such as Louis Koo, Eason Chan, Raymond Wong and Heavenly King Leon Lai, have kept concertgoers on the edge of their seats.

And those seats did not come cheap this year. Tickets were priced from HK$300 (S$51) to HK$680, but scalpers wiped out the bulk of them, reselling at cut-throat rates and locking out a lot of diehard fans. Cheng asked the audience incredulously: “How much did you pay for your seats?”

A man in the front row replied sheepishly: “HK$15,000.” Still as kooky as ever, she teased:

“Silly!” and proceeded to take a selfie with him. The 12,000-capacity crowd roared with indignation as everyone wanted a piece of their idol.

For the Touch Mi series, the 42-year-old fitness fanatic bared flesh and legs that ran on forever. But as befitting a show that incorporated a little Christian pop, the tone was sexy but not sensuous.

The mix of fast songs and sentimental numbers in her set list of about 30 songs included chart-toppers from her back catalogue that had fans singing along and trooping out of the Coliseum on a high.

But what ultimately touched the audience were her heartfelt songs, infectious enjoyment and the feeling of love she emanated.

This article was first published on Dec 29, 2014.
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