Jay Chou blowing my socks off at the LA Sports Arena – January 8, 2011

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This past weekend, drugs I got the opportunity to watch one of my favorite musical artists perform. I don’t go to concerts very often and rarely am I willing to pay money to listen to singers perform except for a very select few artists. Jay Chou falls into the “select” few. I drove up to LA from San Diego and met up with one of my really good friends who is also a fellow Jay Chou fan and has been following Jay longer than I have.

There are many things I love about Jay, buy more about but one of the things I respect and love most about him is how meaningful and deep his lyrics are (in addition to the amazing compositions of those songs with absolutely wonderful melodies which is his strong suit). My mandarin is definitely not very strong, gastritis but I can understand his message and the passion that comes through with his songs. Don’t ask me which one is my favorite, because once I start, I may not stop in giving you an answer :) For those who are unfamiliar with Jay, he is a huge mega star from Taiwan, who is not only a singer, but the most amazing composer, pianist, rapper, and actor. In addition to playing the piano, he can also play the cello, the Chinese flute and zither, guitar and seems to be accumulating more talents throughout the years. He is currently trying to make his first Hollywood breakthrough with his debut as Kato in The Green Hornet, which I hope will be very successful (because I am a bit biased).

I haven’t really been able to listen to music much in the past year due to personal issues that would make me cry while listening to them. Also, I find Jay’s slow songs melancholic. So when his new cd was released, since I didn’t want to wallow in self pity or sadness, I didn’t really listen to the songs except for the very first time (though this was months after its release). Given that, I wasn’t sure how I would react when at the concert – if I would start to tear up (… I only did once, in Tornado, which is one of my absolute favorites, if not depressing as heck). Jay sung some of his songs from his latest Era cd, but he sung plenty of oldies and goodies with a good variety of upbeat songs (including one of my favorites from his last cd, ???? “Mr. Magic”) and slow ones.

The concert started off with a bang, with 4D effects, of a small ball of light that becomes Jay playing the guitar in the center of the dark arena. After a slow build up, fireworks went off and you could see Jay standing in the center, very dramatically, starting off with his first song.

Courtesy of Brian Y.

Throughout the concert, as one would expect, Jay showed off his various talents, from dancing, to a magic trick, with a bit of beatboxing (which knocked my socks off), and of course, a segment where he played piano (with an incredibly cool design I might add – it was white and looked very futuristic). He improvised “Flight of the Bumblebee” and put on a different twist to “Super Mario Bros”, both of which segued into two of his songs. The whole concert had a very “tech-y” feel, all of which highlighted his singing. He had several guests too off of his record label, including Cindy Yen. The duet was nice though, despite my not being fond of Cindy all that much.

One of my absolute favorite songs “Fragrant Rice” or (Dao Xiang ??), turned out to be the best clip I managed to grab. In the middle of his performance, he tells those that when they are working or studying abroad and miss home, to listen to this song. In general, it’s just an incredibly uplifting song, and will help those that are going through a difficult time in their life to try and keep things in perspective, that you can always go and think of home.
My Video:

Translation of Dao Xiang

My favorite segment that didn’t include him singing was the set of video clips he put together as his way to thank his fans throughout the years – those that were with him from the beginning or joined at some point in the past decade. It showed important firsts for him – first song, first movie, first directorial debut, and now his first Hollywood debut in addition to important roles and songs that he was a part of. Jay survived the many ups and downs in the last ten years, and he will continue to fight because he is Jay Chou. I was rather moved by this segment and thought it was really well done.

Jay had about three encores, and here is ~the setlist he did (not positive on the order):
Dragon Rider, ???? Lóng Zhàn Qí Shì (From: Capricorn, 2008)
The Era, ??? Kuà Shí Daì (From: The Era, 2010)
Snake Dance, ?? Shé W?, Featuring Lara Veronin (From: Capricorn, 2008)
Love in B.C. ????? Ài Zài X? Yuán Qián (From: Fantasy, 2001)
I’m Not Worthy, ??? W? Bú Pèi (From: On the Run, 2007)
Hip-Hop Stewardess, ???? X? H? K?ng Ji? (From: The Era, 2010)
William’s Castle, ???? W?i Lián G? B?o (From: Fantasy, 2001)
Mr. Magic, ???? Mó Shù Xi?n Shèng (From: Capricorn, 2008)
Black Humour, ???? H?i Sè Y?u Mò) with Cindy Yen (From: Jay, 2000)
Fragrant Rice, ?? Dào Xi?ng (From: Capricorn, 2008)
Sunshine Homeboy, ???? Yáng Gu?ng Zhái Nán (From: On the Run, 2007)
Flight of the Bumblebee mix into
Tornado, ??? Lóng Ju?n F?ng (From: Jay, 2000)
Super Mario mix on the piano into
Fireworks Cool Easily, ???? Y?n Hu? Yì L?ng (From: The Era, 2010)
Free Tutorial Video, ??????? Mi?n Feì Ji?o Xué Lù Y?ng Dài (From: The Era, 2010)
Time Machine, ??? Shí Gu?ng J? (From: Capricorn, 2008)
Dad, I’m Back, ?????? Bà, W? Huí Lái Le (From: Fantasy, 2001)
Simple Love, ??? Ji?n D?n Ài (From: Fantasy, 2001)
In the Name of the Father, ???? Y? Fù Zh? Míng (From: Ye Hui Mei, 2003)
Can’t Utter a Word, ???? K?i Bù Li?o K?u (From: Fantasy, 2001)

Encores
Give Me the Time of a Song, ???????? G?i W? Yì Sh?u G? Dè Shí Ji?n (with beatboxing in the middle – so cool :P )
East Wind Breaks, ??? D?ng F?ng Pò (From: Ye Hui Mei, 2003)
Hero, ???, Zhou da xia (From: Kung Fu Dunk)
Rooftop, ?? Wu Ding with Lara
Nunchucks, ??? Shu?ng Jié Gùn (From: Fantasy, 2001)

I liked that the mixes of the song sounded so different than it was on the CD, and it was clear that Jay was definitely not lip syncing due to all the improvisations and sometimes he just wouldn’t sing a few of the lyrics. It’s strange, listening to the concert again on youtube, I noticed that he sounded sometimes out of tune (in a few places), but from where I was sitting, it sounded mostly perfect. I think it’s a fault of the device recording it. Jay sounds stronger live than on those recordings.

Courtesy of Brian Y.

There was a special point in the concert where he used some sort of projection device so it seemed 4D. It is really hard to describe, but it was fantastic. It would seem like he was there, but not, and then the projection would change, the “windows would flip around”, and there he was, inside, singing. Very creative, all around. I totally loved the bits where he performed using one of his awesome skills – one song with the use of a Chinese flute, another with his guitar, and of course, the improvisations on the piano. Plus, he even used his nunchucks! I became a bigger fan of Jay that night, and I didn’t think at that point that was possible.

The last time Jay graced LA with his performances was 2007. This year I wasn’t sure if I was willing to pay the crazy price points and gave some thought about it before I finally decided to go for it. Well, having said that, I will say that in the future, I won’t be thinking twice before purchasing tickets for a Jay Chou concert (unless I’m broke :P ) He was an absolute JOY to watch in concert, and though I suck at reading chinese and singing chinese, I had a damn good time.

Highlights:
Flight of the Bumblebee (totally awesome) into Tornado:

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