Wu Bai is a Taiwanese rock legend. An artist of his caliber merits special attention, so we’re gonna do something a little different. With this review, GigGuide.tw is teaming up 3 of its staff to offer their impressions of tonight’s gig: one older fan, one younger fan, and one relative novice.
First up, Alex Lee:
While watching the venerable Wu Bai hold home court and belt out decades worth of music, I had an eureka moment. I then badgered Floaty and Nicole for a bit of space to write this piece.
I have been aware of Wu Bai’s music since I visited my then girlfriend’s (now wife) family in Taiwan back in 1998. My brother (in-law) introduced me to Wu Bai’s music (ironically through KTV). At that time, I felt that Wu Bai’s body of work captured the intimate, romantic and open Taiwanese society of that time.
In a flash of insight, Wu Bai’s recent interview with GigGuide.tw popped into mind. I then realized that Wu Bai’s answers were based on his own experiences and vantage points. He said that he survived in the music industry because his songs reflect the Taiwanese society of the time. Looking across at the audience rapt at his older songs, one can sense that longing of that bygone optimistic society.
In that interview, Wu Bai also advised younger Taiwanese bands to find out who they are singing to. He obviously knows who he is singing to. The profile of the crowd during this gig is mostly thirty-something who grew up in the optimistic late 90s and early 2000s Taiwanese society. Wu Bai knows that he is singing to their memories.
Being in-tune with the environment, Wu Bai knows that life is not as rosy as before, especially in the music business. However, he has persisted and came out the other end. As he was advising the younger Taiwanese bands to believe in a better tomorrow in the interview, his songs and performance also seem to remind the audience that things will get better. We got to believe.
Initially, I thought his answers in the interview with GigGuide.tw were diplomatic. However, I now realize he is practicing what he preaches. 伍佰老師 is teaching – I hope we are paying attention.
This is not the first time I have seen Wu Bai live. I saw him perform with Bobby Chen in Macau years ago. However, watching his performance in front of his home crowd is a special moment where everything matches and everything clicks. Eureka!
Next, please welcome Nicole Lee:
Everyone has his or her own dreams. For me, one of my dreams has been to see Wu Bai live. I am lucky in that this was the second Wu Bai concert I had the thrill of attending (the first was at Simple Life Festival last year). As soon as I woke up on Sunday morning, I was filled with excitement. I don’t know why, but I felt like was about to see an old friend. Since I grew up listening to his songs, I feel that I’ve known Wu Bai for a very long time.
When I saw Wu Bai last year, I was moved to tears. As I sang along, I was filled with so many special memories. However, this second time around was even more special, as my baby girl accompanied her father and me (whereas last year I was alone). When my daughter grows up, I can tell her how we went to see Wu Bai together as a family.
When we arrived at Legacy, the concert had already begun, the room packed with loyal fans, including me. As Wu Bai stood center stage, guitar in hand, singing his songs, I just couldn’t take my eyes off him – he was so cool and awesome! The lights moved to the music, and the audience moved with him – swaying, jumping, and waving. Wu Bai teased and joked constantly - not only with the crowd, but also the members of China Blue. All night long, fans screamed, “I love you,” including the lady next to me. Wu Bai is a charming performer, a real man. I love Wu Bai, too!
Tonight’s performance of “浪人情歌” (Wanderer’s Love Song) was stunning to me. It was so different from the recording. This song is one of my most cherished songs, as it had accompanied me on many lonely, heartbroken nights. When Wu Bai sang “我們注定在一起” (We are Destined to be Together), the audience screamed and proclaimed that they were destined to be with him. I believe that, too. During the performance of “火山” (Volcano), the sea of uplifted hands and wiggling fingers was just like in the music video: simply beautiful. Wu Bai performed every song perfectly. He did not disappoint a single fan – everyone left with a smile on their face.
Following his encore, the lights came on, and the Legacy staff thanked the audience for coming. I made my way to the locker area to retrieve my bag. Just when the hall was almost empty, Wu Bai returned for one more song! Everybody rushed back inside, the girls next to me screaming as they ran past, “AHHH, I HAVE TO HEAR THIS!!!”
That is Wu Bai – endlessly charming. 帥！
Bringing up the rear, Floaty:
I’m the odd one out here, as I know Wu Bai more by his reputation than by his songs (I do know a few!). And so I arrived at Legacy more than curious to see the acclaimed “king of rock” in action.
When I think rock, I think guitars, so it was with a touch of surprise, and then embarrassment, that I noted to myself: yes, Wu Bai can play. But in a world in which you can readily find anyone and their mom posing with a guitar, perhaps his level of celebrity affected my impression. Well, death to cynicism! The man can play, and those were my favorite moments, when he summoned the feedback and started chugging through riffs. He also did a wild solo utilizing the mic stand. While that may not sound so amazing compared to guitarists who use everything from beer bottles to dildos as their slide, Wu Bai’s performance at this point was both aggressive and musical. In other words, cool.
I was also interested to note how the guitar functions in his songwriting. Sometimes songs that began with a fierce bite would settle into a softer tone, the distortion returning later to remind the listener of the struggling soul behind the words. And then again, sometimes the songs would just blaze away from start to finish. In short, he knows his instrument and how to utilize it. And that made me happy, to know the guitar wasn’t some mere prop. I like a rocker who can, and does, rock. Wu Bai is such a rocker and a smart musician on top of that.
What else do I like? I like someone with a good sense of humor, and that was equally on display. I don’t know if he was just in an especially good mood (performing two sold-out shows for loyal fans could surely help with that) or if it was his normal charisma at work, but tonight he was quite playful, bouncing silly banter between both the audience and the band. Perhaps that explains the second - or was it the third? - encore, which occurred after the house lights went up. Maybe he was feeling like a prankster or maybe he just really needed to do one. more. song. But from outside Legacy, it was funny to watch the swarm of fans rush back inside, kind of like they were willfully entering a black hole. Only it wasn’t black. It was colored with love. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Taipei wanted it, and Taipei got it. A benevolent King, he is.