Musicians, guitar lovers and fans alike reveled in an enchanting night of music with guitar prodigy Sungha Jung and World Fingerstyle Champion Akihiro Tanaka in Singapore on June 28!
As part of his Monotony World Tour, Sungha Jung returned to the Kallang Theatre for his fifth headlining show of the year, and what seemed to be the talented guitarist’s fifth visit to the sunny island. Joining him as special guest for this tour leg was his close friend and preeminent fingerstyle guitarist Akihiro. The duo has already staged numerous performances together, and had promised to treat fans with their famed duets including ‘My Favorite Things’ from “The Sound of Music.”
Having just dropped his fourth solo album ‘MONOLOGUE’ this year, Sungha himself performed a number of his new songs on top of the scores of his masterfully arranged guitar renditions of contemporary and K-Pop tunes. Fans are familiar and love how Sungha strut his stuff on YouTube, but seeing the 17-year-old perform live is an astounding experience. In fact, not only was the repertoire impressive, we were also in awe how fine a young man Sungha has blossomed into!
An instrumental concert, there was no particular fanfare or overflowing fan services – just a simple set centering the stage, a theatre of audiences filled to the brim and a nightlong of great tunes. That said, there were nonetheless, a galore of gifts for lucky fans, including a guitar and a ukulele signed by Sungha.
But first (no we are not going to take a selfie), Akihiro opened the show with his solo set and some brimming humor! Language certainly did not seem to be a barrier for the Japanese musician. Following the performance of the upbeat ‘Silver Wings’, Akihiro recounted how he came up with the title for his next tune – “When composing the song, I had birds literally singing in my head! I tried to ignore them, but they keep coming back. That was why I decide to name it ‘Humming Birds’.” Well, it really is not hard to see why humming birds can come alive in his mind. When Akihiro plays, there exists so much dedication and passion, with the man himself immersed in his own art, and well, even in his tunings!
Tuning his guitar, which took a while, Akihiro went “The next song is called tuning, please enjoy”, which tickled many audiences. That was in fact, the start of a night of tuning in between songs. Both Sungha and Akihiro sure take their tunings very seriously!
Introducing his next song ‘Etude of The Sun’, Akihiro shared how he first met Sungha in Beijing for a festival – “We played this tune again and again at the backstage. At that time Sungha was smaller than me, and looked so cute. Now, he looks so cool.” Fans could not agree more!
Akihiro then went on to wrap up his solo stage with ‘Guitar Boogie’ – a version that required much harmonisation with the audiences who went “Hey ey ey ey ey… *giggles* Hey! Hey! *giggles*”, which totally brought the house together and enlivened the atmosphere!
Fierce cheering from the fervent audiences welcomed Sungha Jung to the stage. The chic young artiste dived straight into his first song number for the night – an original, ‘Sprint’ from his latest album. Smiling, the soft-spoken Sungha greeted everyone, “Hello, I am Sungha. I have been here (Singapore) for five times, but I always miss you all”, whilst getting distracted by, of course, the tuning of his guitar, “I am really happy to be on the same stage as Akihiro tonight! My next song is ‘The Milky Way’, (which) I made a music video for the first time.”
What followed was an unending chain of entrancing melodies. Be it the soothing ‘The Milky Way’, the spellbinding tune of ‘Carrying You’ from the Japanese animation ‘Laputa: Castle In The Sky’ or one of Sungha’s personal favourite ‘Sunset in Paris’, Sungha had the audiences captivated in a trance.
After a short intermission, Sungha continued the night with his carefully chosen set list, ranging from some of the fans’ favourites – Frozen’s OST ‘Let It Go‘ and Taeyang’s ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’, to his originals from the latest album, ‘Flaming’ and ‘Again’, as well as his classic re-edition of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’.
In an effort to make each performance special for local fans, Sungha certainly did his ‘homework’ and even staged a self-arranged guitar edition of ‘Stranger’ (陌生人), by singer Tanya Chua from Singapore – “I don’t know how to say the song title in your language (Mandarin), but this song is called ‘Stranger’. Enjoy!”
Audiences were also pleasantly surprised when Sungha sang John Mayer‘s ‘Why Georgia‘, but burst into laughter when he capped off his solo set with “Guess next I will be waiting for the encore…” How candid!
After a quick change, the audience rejoiced once again when both Sungha and Akihiro returned to stage, and this time, in matching ‘I love SG’ t-shirts. The duo finally joined hands and brought one of their favourite things to Singapore – the evergreen ‘My Favorite Things’ from The Sound of Music.
Glancing over at Sungha, Akihiro was all praises for the young man, “I taught him this song when I was on tour and he learnt so fast! Before you know it, he was able to perform together with me on stage. He is a genius.” Smiling shyly, Sungha explained “I love this arrangement, so I practiced really hard in the hotel room so that I could play it together with Aki.”
From the warm exchanges to random fist bumps, the pair’s great chemistry and friendship showed and their music collaborations shone. The two went on to conclude the enthralling night with Eric Clapton‘s ‘Change the World’, a big hug, and a sincere bow to thank each and every one present.
Well, it was really special to catch the duo performing live together. Thank you Sungha Jung and Akihiro for the total ear orgasm!
Officially KMusic would like to thank Sprout Entertainment for the great invitation.
Article: Kathryn Zhang
Photos: Sprout Entertainment
Edited by: KareBare
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