Last Saturday (22nd December), Malaysian audiences got to toast to the godfathers of Cantopop, Sam Hui (許冠傑) and Alan Tam (譚詠麟), during their anticipated concert titled “阿Sam & 阿Tam Happy Together – Classic Express ”.
It was almost a full-house at Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil and it’s easy to see why the legends are so beloved. Hui, 70, and Tam, 68, proved once again that age is just a number. Speaking of numbers, the perfect duo performed a total of 41 songs from their combined catalogue.
The same expression of bewilderment was echoed amongst members of the media when we received the song list of the “Sam & Tam” concert. 41 songs?! Well if you think about it, Hui – who is known as the “God of Songs” for popularising Cantopop in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia – has 23 Cantonese albums and 4 English ones to his name.
Meanwhile, Tam, or “Principal Tam”, has written more than 800 songs during his career. Each of them have become trail-blazers pioneers in the music industry. Despite the fact that they rose to fame in 1970s, they have managed to remain relatively relevant till today.
The superstar duo first launched their “Happy Together” tour in Hong Kong in August 2017. Following the success of 12 sell out shows, they decided to carry on with a part 2 of “Happy Together – Classic Express” this year with 11 more shows. Before arriving in Malaysia, Hui and Sam performed for 12,000 fans in Singapore Indoor Stadium on 1st December 2018.
Just like their Singapore concert, the live show in Kuala Lumpur had a 4-sided black-and-white chessboard stage right at the centre of the stadium. It was perfect as it allowed all sides to capture a good view of what was going on and gave access to easy interaction with the crowd. At 8:11pm, the lights went dark, signalling the start of the show.
Hui and Tam kicked their concert off with “The Perfect Match (最佳拍档)”. The song was not only written and sang by Hui as the theme for 1982 action comedy film “Aces Goes Places”, but Hui also starred in it. We can safely say that they couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song to reflect their partnership.
The infectious set continued with “Amazing Life (笑看人生)” and “Just Play (最紧要好玩)”. The high energy was contagious and it was amazing to see both Hui and Tam try and keep up with the choreography. They danced along with the crew of female dancers and sang as though they were still young (Tam insisted a few times that he is “forever 25”).
One of the highlights was, of course, their silly jokes. While interacting with the crowd, they expressed that competition is now stiff as they have to compete with younger and better looking singers (referring to them as “fresh meat” but they tend to rot easily). However, Tam and Hui declared that they’re long-lasting just like luncheon meat, ready to be consumed anytime. That drew a ton of laughter from all directions.
The veterans were ready to take us down memory lane and they had plenty of stories to tell through their songs. As you may know, both entertainers started off with their own respective bands. Hui was the lead singer of Lotus before going on to craft out a successful career as a solo artist and an actor in films.
Tam is also a member of a well-known band called The Wynners. According to The Sun, the group never formally disband and still reunite occasionally for special performances. His Wikipedia page also claims that the 68-year-old performer holds the record for having the most concerts in Hong Kong by a solo artist.
The next segment saw the duo divide and conquer. After their duets, it was time for their solos. Hui effortlessly belted out “Pretty Woman”, “Mary (玛丽， 我好钟意你)”, “Kawaii (日本娃娃)”, and “Ten Girls (十个女仔)”. In between segments, concert-goers were also entertained a humorous talk show “Entertainment Secrets Unveiled” (乐坛解密) on the big screens. It hosted by famous standup comedian and actor, Dayo Wong (黄子华).
It wasn’t long before Tam was back on stage churning out hits such as “Image on the Wall (墙上的肖像)”, “I Can’t Believe (我没法相信)” and “Love of My Life (一生中最爱)”. It was a treat to watch the stage be transformed into beautiful mesh of laser lighting that complemented Tam’s Mandarin number “Keep You in My Song (把你藏在歌里面)”.
On the 18th track, 2 young men in black-and-white attire came out to sing “Gamblers Play (鬼马双星)”. We later found out they were Hui’s talented sons – Ryan and Scott. Hui soon came up to to join his boys for “The Private Eyes (半斤八两)”. Not to be left out, Tam also joined the trio and delivered “Love Trap (爱情陷阱)”. It was a pleasure to watch the gang rocked out the stadium.
Besides their solos and duets, they each also sang cover songs for concert-goers. They include “Only Care About You (我只在乎你)” by Teresa Teng who is Hui’s idol, “All Out of Love (小风波)”, “Wish For A Lifetime (一生何求)” sung by Danny Chan, and “Glorious Day (光辉岁月)” by Beyond’s lead singer Wong Ka Kui. At one point, those in attendance collectively turned the venue into a stunning sea of lights with their mobile phones. It gave us goosebumps!
The night wasn’t over yet when Hui and Tam sang “Hong Kong Song（铁塔凌云)” and “Autumn Romance’ (爱在深秋)”. Despite having just performed 33 songs, Tam asked the crowd if there were still plenty of songs left? The crowd unanimously roared in reply; wanting more. He encouraged the audience to keep the enthusiasm up while they make a quick change.
True to their word, the duo – joined again by Hui’s sons – came up on stage for the encore. In keeping with the festive theme, they played a rock version of “Jingle Bells” as the opener for “Drunk （有酒今朝醉)”. Their 8-track encore set ended with “Heartfelt Wishes (浪子心声)” and “Silence Goodbye (讲不出再见)”. With over 3 hours of entertainment, we left the concert venue feeling “Happy Together” ;)
Featured image: StarPlanet.