Live '08 @ San Diego (Part I)

Sandy Lam's 2008 Mid-autumn live concert was held at the Harrah's Rincon Casino, located intimately between LA and San Diego, California. Last time when SL performed in southern California was in April 1990, David Wang (王傑) was her stage partner (!). Four years later, SL revisited LA with her crew and recorded her 17th album "Sandy '94". Apparently SL and California shared a long, intertwined history.

It took us quite a while to drive from San Diego to Rincon. We left downtown San Diego around 16:00, driving northbound on the freeway through a number of suburbs. Part of the freeway was nested along the mountain ranges, where certain segments were undergoing large-scale construction and maintenance. Lanes were merged and redirected, making the winding road trip more demanding than usual.

After approximately 90 minutes, we made it to the casino. As soon as I saw the fences of the open air theatre, I was greeted by a surge of excitement. We could hear the ever familiar "At Least There's You (至少還有你)" playing all over the venue, and I thought: the concert didn't even start until 20:00, had the casino been playing SL's music all day long?

Given that we arrived quite ahead of the admission time, we were able to find a parking spot without having a nervous breakdown or growing a full beard. When we got off the car, the song playing had become "Scar (傷痕)". Suddenly it dawned on me that it was not SL's CD that the casino was playing, but it was SL, right then and there, having her final sound check and rehearsal! Through the fences we could see Anthony Lun sitting behind the keyboard, and SL standing on centre stage.
If it was not SL's ad lib towards the end of the tune and the slight variation of Anthony's arrangement, she sang so wonderfully that one could hardly tell that it was live performance. Although we were not too far away from SL's rehearsal, we decided not to disturb her and left quickly. Not wanting to know the set list ahead of the concert, we entered the casino and found our way to the box office to pick up our on-line purchased tickets.

I was a little surprised to see so many Asians (well actually Chinese people) in the casino. It appeared that the casino was very used to entertaining Asian guests from everywhere. The line-up at the buffet restaurant was longer than the Great Wall of China, so we gave up and ate at Cabana Cove, another restaurant in the casino. After dinner, it was only 18:40. Admission would not begin until 19:30. I decided to stay in the car and take a power nap. The evening air was getting brisk and I turned down the window a bit to let the air in. When I was all relaxed and getting some rest, suddenly I heard two people approaching and joking with each other. I sat up and could not believe my eyes! It was Anthony and Kim Robinson strolling back from dinner and returning to the backstage.

Of course, I wanted to get a glimpse of SL too. I did see her, but she was smart enough to hop on a mini-van to go back and forth the stage and the main building, alas, no such close encounter like I did with Anthony and Kim.

As the time got closer to admission, the crowd built up by the minute and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation. One could tell right away who were SL's fans in the crowd by the demographics, the way people dressed, and the way they carried themselves when they were lining up. By the time we arrived at the entrance, a table was set up to search each person's bag. For security reasons, I did not have a problem with it. However, the security personnel were trying to deter anyone from bringing cameras into the theatre. I lied through my teeth denying that I had a camera with me. T, who bought a new, hefty camera for this occasion, could only say that he must bring the camera with him despite he would not take any photos (still lies, I know).

We were led to our seats on the floor by a nice lady fom The Fifth Season (第五季), the concert sponsor/organizer, and our seats were exactly like the way we wanted, close, but not front row. I got to admit I was a bit concerned at first, as the floor seats were filling up not as fast as the general admission area surrounding the theatre. However, after the "house lights" (and street lights too) were dimmed, both the floor seats and the general admission area were pretty jam-packed (with sporadic seats being vacant here and there, which was normal). SL was, once again, a box office success. Even in the heart of southern California.

After a relatively amusing introduction by a crew member, who described SL as the "Pop Diva of Asia (亞洲天后)", the show officially began in a thunderous applause. T quickly told me that he would find a seat in the general admission area, so that it would be less obvious for him to bring the zoom-lens out to take photos. Alas I was watching SL's performance that evening all by myself (一個人), which was fine by me too.

01 我的心在跳舞

To nobody's surprise, the concert set list in San Diego was largely borrowed from those in Nanjing and Shanghai (of course, minus all the fancy giant flat screens and dazzling visual effects). Nonetheless, SL's first number 我的心在跳舞 was uplifting and engaging, which started off with her immaculate, ethereal voice, and progressed into a full blown dance fest. In this tour, SL brought with her six young, amazingly talented male dancers, who brought the house down throughout the evening. SL completely nailed her vocals, with her head voice and chest voice interchanging seamlessly, and gave an outstanding choreographed perfomance without skipping a beat. The evening was getting chilly, but she was hot.

02 一個人

Without a word, SL carried on with another retro dance extravaganza. Anthony slightly adjusted the arrangement and gave the song a more edgy, electronic feel than the album version. SL's dance sequence was very sensual, and she sang it with a naturally enticing tone, as if she was toying with the melody between her fingers.


Wordy said...

How come u do it in English this time?

I couldn't believe she did 我的心在跳舞! (well, I have to admit that I haven't followed any report of her live tour 2008)

Will you or have you posted any pics by T here?

Leo said...

Suddenly it dawned on me that it was not SL's CD that the casino was playing, but it was SL, right there and then, having her final sound check and rehearsal!

OMG,lucky you!

can't wait for your sequel!

best actor said...


for the first time since i started blogging, T indicated that he would like to get involved in detailing our concert going experience. so we have decided to divide up the work: he will write it in (proper) Chinese and i will get the ball rolling in English. T took ALL the pics during the concert coz my little point and click digital camera just could not function well in a dark environment. thanks to him for providing us the pics.


i was a bit reserved at first when going to this concert, given that small venue and mixed audience could affect the outcome of the concert. i gotta say SL did a terrific job and at the end the crowd was just as passionate. one could tell SL was quite touched at the end. oh well, without getting too ahead of myself, i had a wonderful time that evening. :o)

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Truly a night to remember. Sandy's so amazing on stage and how she just captures your attention with every movement.

Thxs & keep on sharing :-)

Leo said...

oh there's a Chinese version of your concert story? show us pal!

certainly this San Diego Concert is a very special experience for all SL fans! jealous indeed!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could be there too. Seems like she had another great concert under her belt. I am going to her concerts in Singapore, Taipei and then Beijing. I will enjoy them all for sure but can't help to think that it would be perfect if I could go with a boyfreind....

best actor said...

Lemon Tree:

Sorry for the tardiness. Have been busy. The night in San Diego was truly unforgettable. She did a fantastic job (thought she would be more reserved given the venue and the location). She certainly did not disappoint her loyal fans. :o)

More stories to come.


Yes there is a Chinese version, please stay tuned. It's always a treat to see SL up close and personal.


Wow I envy you! in terms of bringing your bf to the concert... I am sure your wish will be answered some day. 終有日會如願

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Sandy was terrific in Sinagpore but the audience was not as passionate as the ones in HK. And she left for HK yesterday the same flight with mine. I did not want to disturb on board er but did manage to congratulate her for a wonderful show and tell her that I was so looking forward to seeing her in Taipei and Beijing! And I got her autograph on the concert ticket stub too!

best actor said...

lucky you, close encounter is hard to come by and even if i had a chance to see SL up close, i wouldn't know what to say to her in person! haha

i wished i was in SG too. oh well, i can't have it all, can i :o)


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