Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Steven's Mother's Day concert-- I was there in the audience

link to vid - Steven opens the concert with OTTOO's themesong
playlist of other uploaded songs on youtube 

credit pix sm fb fan page

Had I been less in a daze I would recall more details than those here. It's like how someone said "Oh, that was SO good" but when pressed for details as to what SO good about it, she/he could not pinpoint the exact reason why,  just that it was; that's me. lol!  What stick in my mind are my euphoric feeling, the exhilarating atmosphere, and my contentment of being in Steven's presence listening to him sing. Had I not written down the list of songs sung during my rare moments of lucidity I probably would have a hard time recalling them now. lol!

credit pix sandylau weibo

Unexpectedly I got to go to Steven Ma & Niki Chow’s Mother’s Day Concert  held in Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, USA, after all.  (2014 May 11 Sunday 1 am) . With nothing better to do as we are not interested in gambling we decided to wait out the 30 minutes before show time inside the Circus Maximus Theater  - truth be told I was just too antsy to do anything else or be anywhere else. [太开心]

source
SHOWTIME
Finally, the lights are dimmed as a disembodied voice announces through the PA the prohibition of flash photography and video recording during the performance.  And then the curtain slowly rises. It's about 1:15 am in the wee hours of Sunday and yet I was never this wide awake and pumped up. The palpable energy in the room quickly intensified as the audience tacitly quieted down awaiting with much anticipation their first sight of Steven making his entrance. I think there must be some sort of PA announcement introducing Steven, not sure because I was so in my zone waiting to see him. Suddenly I see a 'flamingo pink' Steven strutting across the stage towards the center stage singing his opening number, 想飞, the themesong of  tvb series, "On the Track or off".   What an entrance -- the song's fast upbeat tempo duly energizes the whole atmosphere.  No doubt his flamingo pink pantsuit is an instant attention grabber but as he gets closer to the stage front it was his warm eyes and his signature bright smile encompassing us all that grabbed my attention. His entrance naturally elicited an eruption of loud enthusiastic applause and hollering.  Steven had to be gratified by our reception for him.  The show has officially begun!  Wow! Never in my dream did I expect to see Steven in concert but there he is before my very eyes clad in this flamboyant flamingo pink suit matched with a white inner t-shirt and white shoes. I've seen his face so many times on screen and on print but the excitement at seeing it in flesh is totally indescribable, akin to being in a dreamscape, so unbelievable!


credit pix as labeled.
So I ask my sister to pinch me just so I know I'm not dreaming all this up. [太开心]  And for some inexplicable reason Bruno Mars' song "Just The Way You Are" came into mind: When I see your face there's not a thing that I would change 'cause you're amazing just the way you are"

This is not my first time seeing Steven in flesh as I 've met him briefly in his 2010 NYC meet and greet event.   For those who have not had the same pleasure, Steven pretty much looks like his on screen image only handsomer and younger looking -  he looks familiar yet not a carbon copy familiar -- a very weird feeling hard to describe - you know this person well but yet he's stranger to you and vice versa.  Anyway, if I didn't know beforehand that he was very sick just a few days ago, I would not have known any better just by his exterior appearance and his vitality.  It might be the lightings and make-up, because though thin his cheeks were not sunken as reported in the news. In fact, he was full of vim and vigor and totally owned the stage with his bigger than life presence. 

Steven breaks the ice with a self-deprecatory remark on his eye-catching flamingo bright pink pantsuit. He asks what the audience think of it -- he looks promiscuous/flirty (hau 姣 video) ?  lol!  He says when the clothes sponsor recommended the suit to him he was at first hesitant to wear it.  Honestly, I wish he had gone with his instinct to reject that suit. lol!  But the audience seems to approve, so all's good. He gives his little welcoming speech and wishes all the mothers and mothers-to be in the audience a very happy mother's day since Sunday has officially started. He asks how many mothers are present in the audience and at seeing quite a few raised hands, Steven glibly replies that no way can they be mothers since they all look like young ladies. lol! A good one judging from the appreciative laughter in the audience.  He says his program is divided into 2 parts - 1st part he will sing his own cd songs and the theme songs from his own tvb series;  2nd parts he will sing other singers' songs that he like. Here's my compiled list of the songs sang by Steven.

1)OTTOO -想飞  weibo 2)HH1-曾经几许 3)WTLB -水中仙  4)his championship song -李香兰 5) His debut song - Lucky to have met you  youku  6)SIAC -Heaven's Will 7) His mom's favorite song-Weary 8)Moon represents my love (月亮代表我的心 playlist)  9)不了情/新不了情 medley 10)Shanghai Bund/ 新鸳鸯蝴蝶梦/马戏小子 medley  11) encore -Cherish album - An understanding (心照)

Since this is my first Steven's concert I've no comparison to judge his performance against his previous ones but as far as I'm concern Steven was brilliant in his performance.  Steven's concert is a no frills concert with a small band and two female backup singers; it has no special effects, no fancy lightings and no background dancers to grab or divert the audience's attention; all it has is just pure singing from Steven and Niki.  However, the sound system is top-notch and that's all Steven needs to showcase his singing and entertain his audience. I'm an avid Broadway shows fan so I'm totally into powerful and expressive live singing, and Steven's singing fits right in.  Of the songs he sang, only his renditions of 李香兰 and 新不了情 can't be found online. When he says his next song is 李香兰 I was so very happy as I had so wanted to hear him sing this song live because it was the very song that won Steven his gold in his 44th singing competition, forever changing his life course. His rendition did not disappoint and everything I had expected it to be - powerful, smooth, expressive and just perfect. Steven did not just sing 李香兰 but belted it out with passion. Well done!    It was my favorite song of the night. I wish I had recorded his singing for keepsake and for sharing but I was in a daze throughout the whole concert.  I just wanted to sit there on my cloud 9 soaking up his singing and his presence and not be distracted by other extraneous stuff. 

After that powerful deeply emotional rendition, Steven switches gear to a lighter fare for his next song -- "Lucky to have met you" -- how familiar that song is to all SM fans.  The sequence is a natural progression he says for without 李香兰 to win him the gold there wouldn't be his first music album and without an album there wouldn't exist "Lucky' to debut Steven as a singer.  He says he was indeed lucky to be given the opportunity to sing such a good song as "Lucky" for his debut.  And next in line is  "Heaven's Will".   How I wish Steven had worn Sam Siu's tunic jacket when he sang the theme song so as to transport us back to Sam Siu's world. He says he thought of combing Sam Siu's hairstyle but then that style would not match his outfits.

Heaven's Will concludes the first half of Steven's program and he duly passes the center stage over to Niki. SM fans don't want him to leave the stage and neither do I but he promises he will be back. And 35-40 minutes or so later after Niki is done, Steven takes over the stage once more, this time clad in a different outfit. He looks much better in it than his flamingo pink pantsuit.


credit pix as labeled.

Steven starts the 2nd part of his program with Weary, dedicating the song to his beloved late mother as it was her favorite song when she was alive. And the next is "Moon represents my love".  Because I had so identified this song with Teresa Deng's soft, gentle and utterly feminine voice I thought the saccharine sweet melody as a woman's song therefore unsuited to a masculine vocal, and I've listened to quite a few including Steven's past rendition. But surprisingly I actually like Steven's modified version, which departs from his past soft and gentle crooning style of singing "Moon". His version here has a distinctive varied pitch modulation unlike the song's original tune- sweet melody but unvaried modulation. Usually I dislike changes to a beloved song's tune but I really like how Steven sang "Moon" with pizazz - not as a mincing sweet-nothings crooning but as a masculine love serenade to his audience; I totally buy into it.

不了情 is an old favorite song of my grandma's and I've watched the old movie with her too so again I was biased towards a female voice singing this song. A classic woman's heartbreak song, I thought the song was not suitable for a male singer. Although Steven did an excellent job in this rendition I still prefer original female singer's heartrending slower tempo rendition. But when I listened to Steven sing the song live in his deep masculine voice imbued with emotion I was totally drawn into his song, entranced. While his 不了情 is sang with a man's melancholy, his 新不了情 is sang with a man's heartbreak.  Steven truly has a most wonderful bass voice.  As for the rest of his songs, I've heard them many times online but there is simply no surpassing the feeling of being actually serenaded by Steven live - it's an experience felt not just heard.

What can I say but that when one's having fun time just flies by so quickly and before we know it the concert is over. The audience groans as one when Steven announces the end of his concert, and in one collective voice hollers for an encore.  Steven obliges as he did indeed come prepared with one such encore - "An Understanding".  Even before he concludes his singing, fans are already scrambling out of their seats to get close to Steven, whether to have their pictures taken with him or to shake his hand or just to be close to him - whatever their purpose is, pandemonium breaks out around Steven. I bet many feet were accidentally stepped on by excited fans in their eagerness to get to Steven. And so the concert started and ended with a upbeat song and music.  Steven did well -- if he hadn't said so I wouldn't have known he had been very sick just days before the concert or that he had messed up his lyrics.

Afterword: There is simply no beating the excitement and the high emotional charged vibe felt at a live event be it a sport, a ball game, a concert, a play, a dance show, or rally etc because the energized atmosphere is so powerfully exhilarating and invigorating but of course one's enjoyment is tempered by how well the players, singers, thespians etc performed, and Steven definitely stepped up to the plate to deliver a top-notch entertaining performance to his audience.I'm also happy for Steven to have such an enthusiastic and warm audience, whose fervor certainly helped enliven and heighten the whole atmosphere.

OBSERVATION
1) The 1500-seat-auditorium looked huge and impressive with its plush velvety seats and opulent velvet curtains. The seats were sparsely occupied when we took ours thirty minutes before show time. Ten minutes before show time the room still looked pretty empty of patrons, and at this time I was getting slightly nervous for Steven as I recalled how little (if any) online publicity or promotion for this concert was, and at an ungodly hour of 1 am at that.  And slightly before show time the room was like only 70% full, but then as if by prearrangement, patrons started arriving in droves -- so many that they crowded the two left and right entrances to the auditorium. I guess to accommodate the sudden influx of tardy patrons the show started 15  minutes late and by then as far as I could see it was pretty much a full house, which I was relieved to see, to say the least.  Anyway, what's with these tardy patrons with no sense of punctuality at all? Were they so absorbed in their gambling that they completely lost track of time? 

1)Though in the same VIP ticket price range, a huge chunk of the plum center seating remained empty until show time, while the less favorable left and right side seating closer to the walls were quickly occupied. Wonder if the plum seating was especially reserved by the NYC travel agencies for their bus loads of customers? 

2) As soon as the curtain rose, there was a noticeable rush by patrons seated farther down to grab the few remaining empty VIP seats, which gave rise to confusion when the tardy seat owners arrived later to claim their seats.

3) The security guards on duty inside the auditorium really had their work cut out for them by the persistent groups of enthusiastic fans surging to the stage to snap shots or video record Steven with their iphones and ipads. Two security guards were hired to prevent just such spontaneous gathering of excited fans by the stage because their congregation and picture taking antics not only were distracting to the patrons seated there but also inevitably blocking their view of Steven or Niki.  But then again, it is exactly these ardent fans' uninhabited enthusiasm and exuberance that heightened the whole energetic ambiance of excitement and liveliness.

I was both amused and irked by the whole recurrent scenes of the security guards chasing away the persistent group of fans of all ages from the stage front.  There he was most politely but firmly telling the fans crowding the center aisle to back off from the stage and to return to their seats, and the fans putting on an act of compliance pretended to walk back to their seats but as soon as the guard's back was turned to do the same to another group of fans on the side aisle by the stage, the 'aisle' fans instantly rushed back to the stage to quickly snap pictures of Steven.  And so this cat and mice play between the guard and fans continued throughout the show, and towards the end the fans gradually became bolder and bolder as to totally ignore the guard's warnings. I noticed that the other security guard farther from my area had long given up in keeping the fans off the stage. Their work was made harder when both Steven and Niki started to rapidly shake the sea of 'disembodied' outstretched hands of eager fans by the stage and even knelt down by the edge of the stage to have their photos taken by the fans. Their hands shaking instantly created a spontaneous fans stampede towards the stage. Steven even posed with some lucky fans to have their photos taken together.   At one time, Steven's hand was grabbed so firmly by a fan who simply refused to let go that he almost toppled over the stage until his male assistant came to his rescue when he pried away Steven's hand from the fan's grip. [汗]  Well, what do you expect? This is after all an idol concert, and ardent fans are expected to act 'crazy', right?  Although can be distracting, fan fervor is what created and heightened the euphoric ambiance of an idol concert, who knows when next fans will see Steven again let along attend another concert of his? All in all, a most intoxicating and exhilarating night for all except perhaps for the security guards, the patrons whose view of the stage were constantly blocked by those pesky ipads held up high by those seated in front to snap or video Steven, and those tardy patrons whose seat were usurped by squatters.

4) The numerous black projector equipment placed along the stage front totally blocked off my view of Steven's bottom legs and feet when he stood in center stage.  Very annoying.

5) Wonder why there are so few uploads of pictures and videos of the concert online when there were so many people snapping and video taping away with their iphones and ipads? I did take some pictures at first but they turned out so blurry and badly taken I gave up. Instead I chose to immerse myself totally in Steven's performance than be distracted by other stuff.  But in hindsight I wish I had the presence of mind to audio record Steven's Li Heong Lan if not the whole concert, not that the audio would turn out well anyway considering the high level of white noise of people's ceaseless coming-and-going activities.  


23 comments:

  1. I am glad that you got to attend Steven's concert for the first time. As I was reading this I felt happy for you since you have done so much for Steven and his fans, I felt that you deserved this. I hope in the future, we can be able to see Steven perform again.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Actually I feel that all SM fans deserve to watch his concert not because of what they did but because they are his fans who appreciate and support him. I also hope that you and all his fans would have an opportunity to see him perform.

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  2. I love your review! It made me feel as though I was right there with you. Thank you for all you do and so happy you get see Steven :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading my review. Wish all Steven fans were there to enjoy his live performance.

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  3. I was at the Atlantic City concert, too. He was great! It was awesome to hear him sing live, but it went by too fast. I could have done without Nikki Chow. I thought he pulled off the pink suit pretty well --- not everyone can. He did say at the tail end of the concert that he would come back next year, hope that's true, and perhaps, this time, he could do a day show. My mom wanted to attend, but it was just too late for her. Look forward to his next concert in the States, and hopefully, he'll sing more songs from his Cherish album.

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    1. He sure was! I too could have done without Nikki. I've no problem with the flamingo/pink panther/hot pink color on him, it was more the cut of his pants that I thought was not fitting to his legs. lol! I also prefer he sang more songs from his Cherish album since the other songs are all on youtube. Yup, a late night/early morning show is definitely a deterrent to potential patrons. Too bad your mom missed a great show!

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  4. I went to the concert too!!! It was awesome! and he was great, I even got to handshake him too!!

    I just uploaded the videos that I recorded onto my youtube account.. if you want to post it to your blog, that'll be great! you can search it on youtube under the name "Steven Ma Mother's Day concert Atlantic City 05-11-2014"

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    1. Erica: Thanks for your uploads -- I've included them in my uploaded playlist here. I'm so happy you recorded the complete Moon song. Steven did such a great job making the song his own version, and when singing he had on such a flirty look, too. lol!

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    2. Erica, would you mind uploading your videos on tudou or other Chinese video sites to share with his mainland fans who can't access youtube?

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    3. Would you mind if I upload your vids on to tudou and then sharing them on weibo, crediting you of course as the source?

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    4. sure. I also have weibo. although I don't know how to read chinese, I just google translate. hehehe

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    5. How about this? I'll upload your videos on tudou. Then I'll show you how to directly transfer the tudou vids onto your weibo where you can tag Steven, so your weibo will get the hits. Ok?

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    6. What's your weibo name? Mine is Clamine. Tamaya being taken already on weibo

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    7. Erica: Here's the tudou link to your video upload. I've merged the 5 files into one file. Just copy the link onto your weibo. The link is http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/n4sZVVKVh_w
      Don't forget to tag @馬浚偉 and @Sandy劉玉儀 (his manager)

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  5. Did they allow flowers at the concert? In all the pictures and videos, I haven't seen anyone with them just curious.

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    1. Yes. As far as I could see only one person (a young girl) gave him a bouquet while Niki received a single rose from two separate persons. In the past, fans often gave Steven flowers and presents and every time Steven would write on his blog (the now closed yahoo and later weibo) to remind his fans not to waste money buying them for him; he would much rather receive letters or cards from them. Even so, mainland and HK fans still persist to get him presents. But the AC audience knew that Steven and Niki wouldn't be able to take the flowers with them back to HK so I guess that's why.

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  6. Thank you so much for your detailed recap of Steven's concert! I felt like I was there in AC with you. If Steven comes back to Calif next year, I'll definitely show up for his concert!

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    1. You're welcome. Actually, had I been less in a daze I would recall more details. It's how someone said "that was SO good" but when pressed for details as to what SO good about it, she/he could not actually pinpoint the reason why, just that it was, that's me. lol! I guess for me it's more the ebullient good feel of the moment, the contagious animated atmosphere, and the euphoric feel of being in Steven's presence and listening to him sing than his actual singing and performance. Had I not written down the list of songs sung in my rare moments of lucidity I probably would have a hard time recalling them now. lol!

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  7. Congratulations (belated), tamaya!!! I am so happy for you that you get to attend your idol's concert! The euphoria must have been overwhelming. Hope you will have even more chances to attend his concert from now on....

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  8. Akazukin, thank you! Yes, it was such a thrill to be actually present in his concert. To see Steven bigger than life performing on the stage filling it with his presence, to hear his sonorous voice resonating in the auditorium, to have him interacting with us audience, and to watch him adulated by fervent fans - a totally unforgettable experience! Steven himself was high on his fans' adulation while us fans were high on Steven's presence -- together we fed on the charged atmosphere and got high on it. haha!

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