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.

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