Tam's winning style

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 February, 1997, 12:00am

ALAN TAM AND THE PHILHARMONIC Hong Kong Coliseum, February 6 It is a credit to Alan Tam Wing-lun's personality and talent that at a time when Canto-pop lovers have forsaken the older singers for the younger, good-looking teen idols, he can still pull in the crowds.

Holding concerts in Hong Kong during festive seasons has always been a dicey thing since residents are inordinately fond of leaving town for a holiday.

To have a show on Lunar New Year's Eve is an even bigger risk because of reunion dinners and, of course, the lure of the New Year Fair at Victoria Park. Thus, I was not convinced that Tam would have a full house. But a full house he did have, and not just middle-aged fans but young, screaming teenagers as well.

Concerts with orchestral backing have picked up in popularity since Jacky Cheung Hok-yau held a successful one two years ago. But Cheung's shows had nothing on Tam's current run at the Coliseum in terms of lavish display and grandeur.

From the stage that looked like it came from Yanni's Live At The Acropolis video, to the full 'black-tie' regalia of everyone from the back-up singers to the musicians, including the usually scruffy guitarist, So Tak-wah, it was a grand sight to behold.

After having been used to the toothy singer bounding out on stage, with loud 'Hellos' and casual chit-chat, the 'new' Alan Tam on stage took some getting used to. In fact, he and the band only appeared after a five-minute musical interlude.

He started off more distant than usual, staying at the top of the stage for three songs before moving closer to the audience.

Obviously he was trying to impart a more classical feel to the concert concept.

However, you cannot keep a good man down for long and as soon as he began talking with his audience, glimpses of the old Tam - he of the slightly ribald remarks and playful jokes - appeared.

Songs chosen for the concert repertoire were the result of an opinion poll that Tam conducted among his fans.

Not surprisingly, many of the numbers were from his very early albums, such as Love In Deep Autumn, Storm in A Teacup and Take Care.

Tam's dancing skills - or lack of - are still in evidence. And, to give him his due, he did not even try, leaving it to his able band of dancers who popped up occasionally with some rather erotic dances.

As Tam said during the concert, there was no selling point in it - just a show of sincerity and strength. And he was true to his word; an evening with Alan Tam at the Coliseum showed how technology merged with Canto-pop and a classical feel can produce a show worthy of praise.