Richie Jen flaunts the power of nostalgic hits at Singapore show
Richie Jen Miss You Concert Live in Singapore
Sands Grand Ballroom, Marina Bay Sands
“I have just one small request today,” Taiwanese singer Richie Jen says soon after opening his concert at the Sands Grand Ballroom on Saturday. “It’s for our voices to be loud enough to reach Eason Chan over at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.”
Jen’s concert coincided with the first night of Cantopop star Chan’s two shows in Singapore. And if Chan could hear Jen’s audience that night, he would have listened in on a mega karaoke session.
Jen has an upcoming album and included more recent songs in his repertoire, but he also satisfied the desire of his audience for nostalgic hits.
Indeed, the 56-year-old, who was hopeful that his songs would remind fans of their youth and stoke memories, packed his 2½-hour with beloved signatures.
Aside from Miss U, which he released in 2020, most of the numbers he performed with his live band and two backup singers were from the 1990s or early 2000s.
These included Dependence (1996), I’m A Fish (1998) and Just You And Me On The Way Of Love (2001). He also performed drama theme songs such as The End Of Earth for wuxia drama State Of Divinity (2000), which he starred in.
This choice of songs gave the crowd – which was mostly middle-aged and above – plenty of chances to sing along, something he encouraged.
The energy at the venue hit its peak during the performance of popular tracks like the folksy Look Over Here, Girl (1998), rock ballad The Sad Pacific (1998) and, of course, Too Softhearted (1996) – a song which Jen says “changed his life”.
The number, which came late in the night, was performed with his special guest – singer-songwriter Johnny Chen, who is also known as Xiaochong or Bug. Chen penned many of Jen’s famous songs, including Too Softhearted.
The concert was truly one for the fans. In a long segment midway through the show, Jen put up a list of songs on the big screen, and fans lucky enough to be chosen could select the songs they wanted him to sing.
Most fans picked from the list, which included tunes such as Don’t Change (1998) and A Man’s Tears (1996).
But even when someone deviated from it and asked for I Do by Faye Wong – which got Jen joking that he must have gone to the wrong concert – he accommodated the request by singing a few lines off the cuff.
Jen’s brand of folksy, manly pop-rock may not be to everyone’s taste, and it probably sounds dated to younger generations raised on trendier, synth-heavy tunes.
But it is a brand that has served him well over the years and earned him loyal fans. Most importantly, it is something that feels earnest and organic to him.
It would have been nice to hear some of his newer numbers, perhaps something off his upcoming album. But there is also no denying that Jen performs his old hits with a lot of heart, sincerity and palpable joy.
It is a privilege to have thousands of people know and sing along to every word of something you first performed almost 30 years ago. And Jen never loses sight of that.