Last month, Trung Tâm Asia released their latest show, “Asia 80: Làn Gió Mới”, touted as their biggest show of the year and the beginning of a “new chapter” for the company which underwent some significant changes in the last year. With a new chapter comes great expectations, and long time fans of Trung Tâm Asia were curious as to where the direction of the company would be headed.
Watching this show, it is clear that Asia 80 is an effort to both pay tribute to Asia’s legacy as well as bring a fresh, new take on older performances. Asia 80 opened with a medley of New Wave hits, performed by Cardin, which paid tribute to not only the New Wave music of the 80s, but also Cardin’s performance of “Liên Khúc Modern Talking” in Asia 42 back in 2003. A nostalgic way to open the show, this continued with the return of Loan Châu performing “Xe Đạp Ơi”. Dressed in a white áo dài, her performance reminded audiences of one of the Asia’s most successful shows of the 1990s, “Asia 23: Một Thời Áo Trắng”, and even featured images of Loan Châu from when she performed in that very show years ago. Phương Hồng Quế’s performance of “Tôi Đã Gặp Anh” was very endearing, featuring 3 male backup singers, and reminded audiences of Asia’s many war-focused shows in the past. Other highlights include Hồ Hoàng Yến’s performance of “Giờ Đây Ta Đã Xa Nhau” – a heartfelt “farewell” song written by Trúc Hồ specifically for this show, and Đặng Thế Luân’s grand performance of “Hào Khí Việt Nam” which featured a colourful stage full of dancers and martial artists.
While there were some great performances, other performance failed to live up to expectations. Newcomers Tuyết Vy and Linh Đan appeared awkward and nervous in their performance of ABBA’s greatest hits, though in time they may show great improvements. The decision to have Đặng Minh Thông perform with Thanh Trúc in “Liên Khúc Tình Yêu” seemed like an unusual choice, as they showed little chemistry. Ngọc Anh Vi’s performance of “Giọt Mưa Thu”, while visually innovative, fell short musically; John Bạch’s attempt to reinvent a classic song into something much more modern was appreciated, but not well executed. Overall, the musical arrangements of Asia 80 continue to show a drastic difference from their past shows, a result from key musicians Sỹ Đan, Trúc Hồ, and Trúc Sinh having left last year.
Asia 80 was a show that saw many improvements from Asia 79, but also left much room for improvement. As Asia continues on this new journey, here is hoping that they will find a clearer sense of direction and continue to flourish as one of the top Vietnamese productions overseas! Be sure to purchase an ORIGINAL copy of Asia 80 at your local Vietnamese music store, or online at www.asiaeshop.com.
Dương Thái Hòa has always been passionate about Vietnamese music. Graduating from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music, Thái Hòa currently performs alongside the Liberty Band in shows within the Vietnamese community. In addition, Thái Hòa also writes, records and performs his own music on his YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/JamesDuongMusic