Despite soggy weather, the Shanghai Live Earth concert still earned itself a modicum of success with charismatic acts like Huang Xiaoming, Eason Chan and Joey Yung.
Set on the steps of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, the Orbis stage, provided by Star Events Group (of the Live 8 concerts) was flanked by two digital video screens with a flower display spelling out the words "Live Earth" in the space between the stage and the seating. On stage, two fog machines made a small contribution to the mist swirling around the Pearl Tower, wreathed in blinking lights.
At the opening ceremony, viewers were encouraged to bring their own chopsticks instead of using disposable ones and download music online rather than purchase actual CDs -- the latter being something of a moot point due to rampant illegal downloading in China.
The show opened with Evonne Hsu, who warbled her way through "Lost in Venice" a pop number with synth accordions, followed by Anthony Wong, who launched into a restyled Taiwanese folk song, "Four Seasons" which sounded more lullabye than folk.
Despite a bit of fumbling on the keyboards in the first song, Italian-Macanese duo Solar's set afterward provided an injection of much-needed attitude.
Huang Xiaoming, clad in a white satin coat, fedora, aviators and black rhinestone gloves, proved why he is the hottest thing on the Mainland. His appearance on stage provoked shrieks of joy from the stands, as fans waved flashing electric signs. The heartthrob shuffled his way through a bossa nova disco number surrounded by dancers clad scantily in black and silver.
Dressed in canary yellow, the 12 Girls Band played a jazzed-up version of the Yangtze river folk song "Jasmine Flower" and a classical medley that touched on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
By this point, the rain had begun to fall and spirits were flagging, but Joey Yung brought the crowd back up with her iconic hit "I Can Fly," followed by her ballad "Xiao Xiao" which incorporated Chinese traditional elements and an orchestral sweep. Veteran artist Winnie Shin also made a connection with the crowd with a new song, "Answer of Love."
Die-hard Sara Brightman fans hung on to catch a somewhat distracted version of "La Luna," interrupted by the shrieks of the crowd during the thunderstorm which, a few seconds later, shorted out her microphone. After a 10-minute wait, Brightman returned for one more song and Eason Chan wound down the concert with a few jazzy, funk-influenced numbers.
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