What a wonderful start to the week! I’ve waited eight years for Peter Chua to perform a solo concert at the Esplanade; and of course I bought tickets to both the morning and afternoon shows! (An evening show was added when those two were sold out quickly; and I would have bought a ticket too if I didn’t have an even more important commitment.)
Call me biased, but I really don’t think there’s a Singaporean male singer in his age group (he’s born in the Year of the Horse, which makes him 63) better than him, not even Dick Lee (who’s 61 this year) whom I greatly admire for his talent.
I first got to know of Peter Chua when he took part in the 1976 Talentime (and again in 1978). I was impressed from the first time I heard him, and after today’s performances, I really wonder why he never won, and who did and what happened to the winner/s.
One reason Peter Chua seldom performed in Singapore is that he was the cultural ambassador to countries like Taiwan, Japan and Philippines. If what he did was anything like today’s performance, he surely did Singapore proud! (Again, I wonder why this is not a publicized fact.)
For the morning show, I chose to sit at the centre right because of the way the piano was positioned, but I decided to sit at the centre left for the afternoon show because I wanted to view the show from a different angle and my atttention (for once) was permanently focused on the singer and not the pianist.
Peter Chua really has very very powerful vocals and his performance is emotionally charged. He’s a consummate performer, and the stage is like his home: he’s so natural and at ease even when he gives a jaw-dropping delivery.
It has often been said that a singer’s vocals open up fully as the day progresses, and this is evident in the two performances. Peter Chua forgot some lyrics in the morning and had to re-start a song becuase of the tempo, though well covered-up, but was word-perfect in the afternoon. He sang with all his heart and passion in both shows.
There’s also the gentle and romantic side to his singing too. His Les Bicyclettes De Belsize is simply lyrical and magical, flawless and extremely to-die-for, as is Till, The Way It Used to Be, Love Me With All of Your Heart (a song he has sung regularly for 40 years) and Tom Jones’ Love Me Tonight.
His Delilah and I Who Have Nothing (who can top this??) is as energetic and enthusiastic as the immaculate and jazzy Danny Boy (really, now, who can top this???) – a song he claims he has not sung for 41 years, since the 1976 Talentime. I found myself alternating between swaying from side to side and nodding my head/tapping my feet with the rhythm or being mesmerized/stunned and holding my breath.
The audience members picked to sing with him (both sessions, for Delilah) must have been awed; both were grinning from ear to ear and one of them could really sing!
As though he had just woken up, (and he admitted to having taken a nap between shows), Peter Chua engaged in more banter in the afternoon show (in Teochew most of the time) – what a hoot! – even recounting how he met Veronica Young, who is the special guest for the second and third shows (Make It Through The Night and duet with Chua: Silver Thread and Golden Needles). Ms Young (who’s not-so-young and met Chua 28 years ago as an older ‘auntie’) definitely sounds better than the one time I heard her performing at a Charity Show on television.
It has been such a great Monday today! I sure hope I don’t have to wait another eight years to attend another solo concert by Peter Chua!