ANTHONY WONG Sings People Mountain People Sea Cultural Centre, February 28 Canto-pop has often borne the brunt of accusations: it is too commercial, it lacks originality and creativity. Of late, it has been evident that some Canto-pop stars have been trying to break out of these stereotypes and try new things.
The 'God of [Canto-pop] song' Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, for instance, has embarked on a new project for a coming stage musical.
Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, on the other hand, has always maintained his presence on the fringes of true 'Canto-pop', often being described as coming from a more alternative genre, and has garnered a loyal following.
With Anthony Wong Sings People Mountain People Sea, Wong's contribution to this year's Arts Festival, he proves there is more to Cantonese songs than just Canto-pop as we know it.
His two-hour performance with his pals from Zuni Icosahedron and other independent musicians took his audience through the territory's pop and trends history.
Singing mainly cover versions which band members from Minimal, Pop Pop and Multiplex had rearranged extensively, Wong's journey - from the days of the ever-popular TVB series Enjoy Yourself Tonight, through to last year's award-winning Haven't Voiced My True Feelings from Leon Lai - was full of surprises.
Half the fun of the evening was guessing which song Wong would sing after the band struck up the opening chords.
Most of the songs, including a Teresa Teng classic and Winnie Shin's Taste, were spiced up with hard rock arrangements.
But much of the story would probably not be told as effectively without the excellent choreography and giant video backdrop. True to their theme of 'people mountain people sea', the stage was busy, with many scenes being played out at once; very Hong Kong in its own way.
As Wong took us through the musical history, the actors played out these scenes. There was the corruption of youth, represented by a young girl in school uniform being encouraged by a boy first to smoke, then to take drugs.
A message about gender reversal was also brought up with Veronica Lee singing a Jacky Cheung cover version and Jason Choi singing the dainty Wedding Ring, originally sung by Cass Phang, followed by a more in-your-face version of Vulnerable Woman by the male actors.
The ending was rather abrupt, with a red silhouette of the Queen (a message in itself) and the words 'I'll call you in the next century', and many were left wondering if there was more to come before trooping off disappointedly.
Hong Kong Singers
Hong Kong People