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So yeah, I flipped a coin, and apparently, the universe wants me to write about the Lee Hom concert which was held at Bukit Jalil last night instead of the fabled Genting trip.

Thanks to Mun Wei, I managed to get the RM268 ticket for the price of a RM198 ticket, so I was seated at the third tier after the VVIP seats.

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And third tier is pretty much still far away from the stage, which was set back further from the stands this time around to accommodate the whopping 25,000 fans. Lee Hom was still as much as a small spec as when I last saw him during his 2007 Heroes on Earth World Tour at the same venue, but something about him was different this time around.

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Lee Hom has always been one of the bravest and most inventive artistes of his generation in the Mando-pop genre, and this time around, with his latest “Music Man” make-over and album, he is going a step further. He is a rock-star. The Taiwanese superstar has always been known for his funky pop songs and heart-wrenching ballads, but to side-step what he does best to embrace the rock and roll genre is near-suicide as Kelly Clarkson found out to her peril.

That said, while I may not really agree with his new rock-star image when ironically the most popular track of that record is a pop song (“Heart Beat”), I have to admit that guy really knows how to throw an awesome concert.

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At 8.25 p.m., following tepid displays from Daniel Lee and an unknown local Chinese female singer, we finally got what we asked for. The stands were packed to the rafters, and what greeted Lee Hom was a partisan crowd who were waiting to be entertained. And entertained we were.

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He kicked-off his latest tour, the third since 2005 if I am not mistaken and May Ginn is correct, with a rock anthem from his latest album called with the chorus “What’s My Problem?” before unleashing the “Bahamut”, his custom-made Irish axe, which was suspended in mid-air before the start.

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The guy is a musical genius, it is well-documented that he, despite his much-vaunted classical music background, adores blending contrasting genres and styles like what he did for his “Heroes on Earth” record. And he proved what a maverick he is when he took “Hua Tian Cuo” and “Forever Love”, two well-known slow pop-infused tunes, and turned them into pure rock and roll songs, electric guitar solo included. He’s a rebel I tell you. The first thing that came to mind was The Beatles meet Guns N Roses if you don’t mind my obvious hyperbole.

But I gotta totally give props to the impressive four screens which acted as the backdrop of the stage. The cinematic elements, the graphics, and images were vivid and breathtaking. After that, Lee Hom shifted from his rock set to his emo set as he sang a few sad and emotional ballads. Seriously, you know something is wrong with his love life when the screens show a sentence which I would loosely translate to English as “Music Man is the mask for the Heroes of the Earth…in the end, he is just an ordinary guy who wants love”. Emo much?

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Thankfully, the emo set was short because he was seriously bumming me out. He totally vowed me and the rest of the crowd when he appeared on stage as the singer, bassist, drummer, and guitarist of a four-piece band during his “Change Myself” performance. Seriously, all four of them had his face, and until now, I am still figuring out how he did it. Then he treated us to his violin prowess before switching to his tried and trusted piano when he exclaimed that “the concert has just begun” to choruses of cheers.

After that, it was time for the customary singer-goes-off-stage-you-better-shout-to-get-him-back stage of the concert. Predictably, Lee Hom reappeared to serenade the crowd with “Fang Kai Ni De Xin”, “Love You Equals Loving Myself” (lame translation noted), and “Da Cheng Xiao Ai” before finishing with “Kiss Goodbye”.

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I am still extremely thankful that I took Mandarin for 11 years during my schooling as like 2 years ago, this concert was a karaoke session for me with the Mandarin subtitles on the giant screen. That said, I still enjoyed the previous concert better; don’t get me wrong, this concert was near-flawless, it was epic, and most importantly, it was more than 2.5 hours long, unheard of I might add, but his song choices were pretty baffling as some of the tracks he blasted throughout the musical extravaganza bordered on obscure. Granted, the 2007 Heroes of the Earth Tour was more of a Best Of Lee Hom performance with old favourites like “Julia”, “Bu Ke Neng Cuo Guo Ni” and many others.

This concert was a testament to his growing maturity and artistry; his vulnerabilities and insecurities were there for all to see, and he expressed his feelings in his songs flawlessly through the lyrics. He has some demons, that was obvious, from certain jabs at the recording industry and his constant gay rumours to a dig at his ex, which echoed his frustrations.

I could not help thinking about how 2 years is a short time, yet so much has changed. Everybody grows, famous Taiwanese music sensations included, and while the highs in life are the memories one remembers the most, the lows and failures are the ones that change people’s lives. I applaud Lee Hom’s paradigm shift into rock; granted, I may not really like it, but one cannot deny that when it comes to live shows, nobody does it better than Music Man.

“I have absolutely no reason to ‘layan’ you right now.” – Lee Hom

PS: Mun Wei, despite my criticisms of the ludicrously high prices of this edition’s Lee Hom merchandise, still got a concert ring, and I have to admit, for RM55, it is pretty decent quality.

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Nice case too.

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