Sick of me writing about Wang Leehom yet? Well, tough ’cause I’m gonna be a fan girl for a little bit and tell you about the concert I went to this weekend!
I don’t want to come off sounding like a total hipster, but the fact is that most bands I go see play in smaller venues. Theaters, clubs, etc. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a stadium show for a pop star and I had high expectations for more than just a concert. I was expecting a performance and I’ve gotta say Wang Leehom did not disappoint.
Right from the start it was overly dramatic. The stadium went dark and a video started to play on the screen. It was nazi-like soldiers, and a wasted apocalyptic world, and then Wang Leehom kicking their ass. Smoke starts steaming across the stage, 4 drummers start banging dramatic music, several dancers march out with military precision and then, suddenly, it gets very quiet. And tiny figure in red comes out. Everybody cheers. Then the music starts with a fury, Leehom starts singing and we’re off!
There was a choir of children, a flying piano, ethnic dancers, and I’m pretty sure I saw a tank at one point. It was truly a spectacle that didn’t leave me disappointed. The entire background was video screens that sometimes showed crazy lights and patterns, but also could move. One point the screen opened to reveal a large orchestra sitting there, playing away, another point Leehom stood on a raised platform and interacted with the screen (It was a choreographed animation piece where he sang and interacted with what was happening on the screen. Very entertaining.)
I also know he is master of a million instruments and he showed off a little. Of course he played piano (the flying one) and guitar, but at one point he played the violin like a boss, and then whipped out an erhu (traditional chinese instrument). I filmed a small piece of it. (Youtube video)
You can see, in the video, how far away I was from the stage. (And I bought the expensive tickets!) But on the side of the stage they had 2 giant video screens showing the action on the stage. So even though he looked like a tiny person to me, I could see his face and body clearly on the screens. It was also cool because during his songs the side video screens showed the lyrics. This is a genius idea and totally helped me and everyone else sing along.
This was my first chinese concert as well, and I didn’t know what to expect. I have seen some on TV so I knew that everyone would have light-up glow sticks and be sitting down. Before we went into the concert we bought a foam, flashy light thing because we didn’t want to be left out. But it turns out that we didn’t need to because our seat had 2 for free. They also gave everyone a plastic poncho as the stadium was open and it had been raining on and off all day. (Our seats were in the middle of the field area and therefore exposed. The cheaper seats were the actual stadium seats and they were covered.)
In Chinese concerts everyone sits and watches the show, which I think is especially lame. Luckily we were towards the back and everyone decided to stand and dance and cheer. At one point a security guard told us to sit down, but after he left we all stood up again.
And Leehom fans were insanely excited. We looked for other laowai, foreigners, and didn’t see any (though there must have been some?) I expected a lot of screaming girls but what I actually found was the boys were screaming much louder and enthusiastically. There was this young couple next to me (college age) and the boy was absolutely flipping out the entire time. He screamed the lyrics to every single song, waved the foam light up thing so frantically he hit my head a few dozen times, and when his girlfriend tried to talk to him he completely brushed her off. At one point Leehom kind of looked in our direction and I swear this kid jizzed his pants.
The thing that I will say I was most impressed with what Leehoms personality. He stopped the concert several times to talk to the audience and it created a feeling of intimacy I didn’t expect in a 50,000 seat stadium. And while it must have been hard for him, he really tried to interact with the audience as much as he could. Another common thing in Chinese concerts is light up signs with either the singers name, or your hometown. Leehom noticed everyone of them. “Shanghai Pengyou,” he said pointing at one. Shanghai friends. “Xiang Gang pengyou,” he said pointing at another. Hong Kong friends. He did that with every single sign he could see. “Happy birthday pengyou,” he said at one point joking. (It was his birthday so instead of their hometown some people had a light up birthday sign.)
At one point he even took out a piece of paper and thanked everyone that helped him come to Hangzhou. I thought that was really nice. Then, about 2 hours after he started, he said he was going to sing his last song, a super cheesy love song called Forever Love.
And I’ll admit I was a little disappointed. On his youtube channel, he does these “I love you” videos, in which he gets the entire crowd to say I love you to the camera. But he didn’t do it with us. Also, while he sang most of my favorite songs there was 2 that he didn’t sing. And to end on a cheesy love song? So lame.
But he left and the lights didn’t go back on so I knew we were in for an encore. He not only sang the songs I waned to hear (and made the video I wanted to make. You can see it on youtube here.) But he just sang acappella for a really long time. In fact the encore was about 45 minutes longer making the entire concert 3 hours. And he just seemed, well, very chatty. He didn’t just sing, but talked and sung and talked and sung. Aside from the first few songs the whole thing seemed very off the cuff. In fact it kinda started to rain, and we had friends waiting for us, but it just kept going and it seemed like Leehom didn’t want to leave the stage. He just kept singing songs with no accompaniment except for the thousands of audience members singing with him.
There was also another weird thing. When we first got into the stadium we had some time so I wanted to hit up the merch table. I saw a table and stuff in one part of the arena so we headed over. But it was just water and popcorn. So I asked some volunteers where the Wang Leehom stuff was and they said there wasn’t any. I had seen some people with a Wang Leehom bags and they told me I would have to go outside to buy it from the people selling things out of their cars and on blankets. There was no official merchandise! How odd.
Outside after the concert there was plenty though. And it was cheap. $2 for a t-shirt, $1 for a poster. $1.25 for a bag. I ended up buying pretty much everything (except the buttons that said I love Heehom. They couldn’t even spell his name right!) Some friends were waiting for us after the concert and my Leehom poster turned out to be an additional member of our party. He sat at the table, got to drink his own drinks and he ended up making out with a lot of people. Heh heh.
Seeing Wang Leehom in concert has been a dream of mine for a long time, so I’m glad I finally got to accomplish it. And it was totally amazing and awesome and fun and everything I hoped it would be. Now I’m going to work on my next dream, to meet him in person!
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