By George, he’s charming!
> The Hong Kong singer-songwriter mesmerises fans with his music over the past four decades as he pays tribute to his idols in concert
THOSE who were raised on a steady diet of Hong Kong movies in the 1990s would recognise George Lam more for his acting, rather than for his skills as a legendary singersongwriter.
But for his multitude of fans who packed the Arena of Stars, Resorts World Genting, for his recent 40th Anniversary Live in Malaysia concert, many of them grew up listening to his music that stretched over four decades.
Lam was undeniably one of the key figures who helped shape Cantonese pop music, having influenced many of today’s top singers, such as Eason Chan and Hacken Lee.
For his fans, who are now in their 50s and 60s, the night was something special.
Affectionately known as ‘Ah Lam’, the veteran singer at 69 still with his signature head of thick hair and moustache (though now greying) was a little more mellow and even graceful that night.
He exuded a casual ease, wowing his audience effortlessly with his incredible dynamic vocals and making them laugh at his occasional quips.
In a heartfelt moment, Lam expressed his gratitude to his Malaysian fans, explaining that they were his earliest supporters when he debuted in the 70s, and have continued their unwavering support over the years.
Lam grew up in a family of music lovers and had access to a large collection of vinyl records at home. Needless to say, the songs made a huge impact to Lam in his songwriting career.
The concert thus paid tribute to several musical legends such as Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Paul Anka, Frankie Valli, Elvis Presley and Henry Mancini.
Their songs such as Que Sera Sera, Mona Lisa and Are You Lonesome Tonight inspired his Cantonese classics such as Zui Ai Shi Shui, Ten Minutes Past Midnight, San Ren Xing and Si Meng Mi Li.
Moving from the 50s’ ballads, he soon got the audience swinging to the infectious beat of the 60s’ rock-and-roll, interspersed with stories of his early life in Britain and the US.
Lam’s greatest influence from the era was the US folk band Peter, Paul and Mary – which also inspired him to grow and maintain his iconic moustache.
He performed the band’s signature song Lemon Tree, but as the tune required more than one singer, Lam’s wife and fellow artiste Sally Yeh made an appearance onstage to join him, thrilling the audience.
The couple then went on to deliver their famous love duet, Xuan Ze, which marked the highlight of the evening.
It was an endearing moment when Yeh shared some of Lam’s quirks in their daily life, drawing laughter from the audience. The second part of the concert was a homage to songwriters Lam had collaborated with, and whom he missed dearly. Many sang along as Lam serenaded the audience with familiar tunes such as Jue Ze, Zai Shui Zhong Yang, Fen Fen Zhong Xu Yao Ni, Gan Ai Gan Zuo, and hitting it to the high with the rousing Wong Fei-hong movie tune, Nan Er Dang Zi Qiang. Lam returned for an encore with the energetic medley of Wo Yao Zou Tian Ya, Cheng Ji Si Han and Ya Li Ba Ba, before ending the evening’s performance with A Lam’s Diary and Hai Shi Sheng Lou before an enthralled audience.
How Lam maintained his stamina throughout such a long line-up of songs was astonishing indeed.
Few artistes have enjoyed such enduring appeal as Lam, simply because of his beautiful uplifting melodies that resonate with listeners.
Forty years and still counting, Lam’s distinctive powerful and magical voice will continue to enchant audiences, young and old alike.
George Lam’s 40th Anniversary Live in Malaysia concert was organised by Star Planet.
(left, right and below) Lam singing and acting it up on stage to the delight of his fans; and (bottom) doing a couple of duets with wife Yeh.