Su Yang @ Tango: The Warmth of a Wild Yellow River Delta Flower
Just in case you didn’t know it, Su Yang is widely recognized as one of the best folk musicians in China who rose to fame with his debut album, Xian Liang (Able & Virtuous), released in 2006. It was a big hit in the folk-rock world in China and remains popular and influential. The tunes of the album were mostly adapted from the folksongs of Ningxia, where Su grew up.
It was almost to the year that he was in Beijing playing a major show to support his latest album, Living Like Grass,at the starlive( now Tango 3rd floor). That day, I chose to head over to 2 Kolegas that day for Lao Da’s CD release instead so i missed out. When he came back this past weekend, I actually almost forgot about it… heck, it didn’t even make my quickslants! Thanks to Weibo, I didn’t miss out!
The show started a bit late by Tango standards and i didn’t mind at all. It meant i wouldn’t miss much. Turns out i didn’t miss anything he took the stage around 9:45 much to the delight of the 400+ folks of all ages in attendance! He didn’t waste anytime getting down to business and immediately went for the crowd pleasers.. thing is, almost every song on his two albums is now a crowd pleaser!
He mixed things up tracks from both albums throwing in a beautiful rendition of 凤凰 (pheonix) that put everyone in the mood! I actually hadn’t really seen him play live since pretty much the 2009 folk festival which is almost criminal. Turns out some songs of his I had wrongly attributed to Dong Zi, notable what is my favorite song of his, 长在银川 (Raised in YinChuan). Funny thing is that it took me months to find that song back in the days with my limited Chinese but now, it’s all worked out… this one is a Su Yang song… and it’s a freaking good song y’all so go listen to it.
After a 40mn set, Su Yang took a bit of a break and invited none other than Ma Tiao to come in a perform a few songs. I was a bit hesitant and iffy about this in light of his recent performances that were very much underwhelming…. bathrooom or cigarette break time i thought. tell you what folks.. he didn’t do too bad actually! he played a high energy 5 song set that was quite entertaining with a bunch of new songs from his upcoming album release.
Right after that, Su Yang came back and took us through another 40+ minutes musical journey that was capped with 50 or so audience members joining him onstage for a beautiful and emotional 5 minutes singing 贤良 (Able & Virtuous), the title track from first album! It’s amazing how the audience has taken to this track, it’s basically an anthem for them. Even the Feng-man who was by my side knew the words to the song.
And to think I almost missed this… Fantastic show, great warm festive atmosphere, rich sounds, good vibes all around and everyone holding hands singing along! You can’t go wrong with that! The second part of the show was simply superb as Su Yang and his band all relaxed with the music flowing naturally. Sure, there sounds and rhythms are slight overused but you know what, they’re so beautiful that i don’t mind!
Here is a video of 贤良 from their Xi’An gig earlier this year… fantastic energy
I love this type of folk.. there’s a signature sound to it that I associate immediately with the Yellow River Delta! It’s like a warm wild but gentle flowing breeze that fills me with comfort.