Faye Wong’s Return a Stunning Success

The producers of the earthquake relief special did everything they could to keep the focus of the program on the victims of the disaster, but try as they might, they could not conceal the fact that Faye Wong’s (王菲) appearance would not only attract millions of viewers and dollars but also overshadow the entire effort. The sets were deliberately kept to a bare minimum, and the performers all dressed in simple, ordinary street clothes. The mood was serious and somber. The purpose of the show was grave — to attract nationwide donations for the earthquake victims and to pay tribute to the thousands who died. No loud cheering or applause. But the cameras couldn’t lie. They knew who the main attraction was, and they focused on her. Faye. In the photo below, of Faye with Faith Yang (杨乃文, Yang Nai Wen) and Eason Chan (陈奕迅, Chen Yi Xun), Eason isn’t fooled, too. He’s pointing to Faye, and the message is clear: “Faye is it. Faye is the show.”

Despite preliminary reports that Eason would be the lead singer and Faye would be part of the chorus, when the performance started, I don’t think anyone was surprised to see Faye out in front, opening the number, solo. And she was fabulous. She never resorts to histrionics, in her voice and gestures, and this occasion was no exception. She tried to blend in with the others. But when you’re Faye, you stand out even when you do absolutely nothing. Her delivery, the severe atmosphere, and the complete absence of glitz could not hide Faye’s glowing presence and performance. As each of the four singers marched up to the box to deposit his/her donation, one of the hosts announced her name. But when Faye made her drop, both of them called out her name. You couldn’t help but hear the reverence and awe in their voices. When she sang the familiar opening to “Wishing We Last Forever,” she lit up the stage. Her voice was strong and confident, and there was no hesitation in her delivery even after her three year hiatus. The same ethereal, heart-stopping quality was there.

This performance was big. It answered perhaps the three most important questions: Does Faye still have her voice? Does she still have her looks? And most importantly, does she still have her magic? The answer to all three is a resounding, unequivocal yes — yes, she still has the voice, the looks, and the magic that made her the greatest female singer in Asia.

So what happens now? Can Faye quietly return to the reclusive life that she’s led for the last three years? I don’t think so. I have a feeling this experience could serve as the catalyst that awakens the artist in Faye, the creative force that wants to pick up where she left off after her Sony album, To Love. From the very beginning of her career, she’s been restless, anxious to break out of the mold, to try new ideas, new styles, new media. I think Faye’s fans sense and are drawn to this energy in her, a power that keeps driving her to try something new, innovative, different. For her fans, this is what Faye is all about — a restless, driving spirit who’s never satisfied with where she’s at. We miss this energy, this creativity, which only Faye can bring to the music scene. And my guess is that Faye must be feeling stirrings of this same energy after her performance last night.

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