Concert Review: Hins Cheung (張敬軒) - "The Next 20" in New York

Concert Review: Hins Cheung (張敬軒) - "The Next 20" in New York

On July 8, 2023, UBS Arena came alive with the electrifying performance of Hins Cheung, a popular Hong Kong singer and actor. As a Hong Konger myself, it was an absolute thrill to witness one of our own take center stage in one of the East Coast's top-notch venues.

The atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation as fans from across the United States, Canada, and even Hong Kong gathered to celebrate Hins' 20-year musical journey. His concert was a testament to his incredible vocal abilities and captivating stage presence. The crowd was treated to a mesmerizing performance, filled with heartfelt emotions, dramatic musical arrangements, and sparkling costumes.

Backed by a talented six-piece band and accompanied by eight skilled dancers, Hins effortlessly commanded the stage. His melodic voice resonated through the venue, leaving the audience in awe of his vocal range, pitch-perfect delivery, and sheer emotive power. The beautiful acoustics of UBS Arena truly let his voice shine. Despite not being a natural dancer, Hins committed wholeheartedly to the minimal choreography he was given. Though he was a tad stiff at times, which wasn't helped by some of his dramatic costumes, the more choreographed parts of the show were still entertaining.

Throughout the show, Hins' charismatic personality shone through. He shared humorous anecdotes, creating a relaxed and casual atmosphere that made the audience feel like they were spending an evening with an old friend. His genuine warmth and appreciation for his fans were evident in every interaction. He mostly spoke Cantonese but would also speak Mandarin in a few select moments to make sure all the fans connected.

Though he started the show with the high-energy "Do What You Want," the majority of the setlist covered Hins' beautiful power ballads. Highlights included "青春常驻" and "春秋," songs that Hins acknowledged as some of his most challenging. He jokingly shared that even his friends need a few drinks before mustering the confidence to tackle these songs at karaoke.

Each section of the concert had different energies, ranging from the sexy section with "Sweet Escape" and "迷失表参道" to the cute K-Pop boyband parody during "怀旧情人". Hins playfully remarked on the impact of K-Pop on the music industry, including his six-hour practice sessions at home to learn the art of drinking water on stage with charisma.

Just before the encore, Hins came into the audience to see his fans more closely, noting that for many years in Hong Kong, he could not see his fans' faces due to masks. Despite the chaotic scene of fans attempting to get close to the star, Hins made a sincere effort to make eye contact, exchange handshakes, and express gratitude to as many fans as he could, extending his appreciation to the staff for their assistance. The main show ended on a beautiful note with "笑忘书," a song Hins wrote when he was at his peak of depression. He took the time to also mention CoCo Lee, a fellow popstar who had tragically passed away just a few days prior.

As the final notes of the last encore track "My Way" echoed through UBS Arena, we were left in awe of Hins Cheung's indomitable spirit and incredible talent. It was a night that made us Hong Kongers proud, and I hope it is the first of many for Chinese popstars to add American dates to their tours.

Setlist:

  1. Do What You Want
  2. YOU
  3. 骚灵情歌
  4. 无能为力 
  5. 青春常驻
  6. 春秋
  7. 酷爱
  8. Hurt So Bad
  9. Sweet Escape
  10. 迷失表参道
  11. Yes & No
  12. 俏郎君
  13. 灵魂相认
  14. 怀旧情人
  15. 无城有爱
  16. 樱花树下
  17. 余震
  18. 笑忘书
    ----
  19. 隐形游乐场 
  20. 只是太爱您 
  21. 断点
  22. My Way 
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On April 19th, Webster Hall was filled with “FLO Lifers” eagerly awaiting the UK girl group FLO who are currently embarking on their “FLO Live” tour. Formed 2019, FLO consists of Jorja Douglas, Renee Downer, & Stella Quaresma. The group’s style distinctly derives from R&B and Hip-Hop from the 1990’s and early 2000s. For a more in-depth analysis FLO’s sound and trajectory watch here (https://youtu.be/i18hpBoW4EU)/ <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i18hpBoW4EU" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Before FLO took the stage, Samaria, an Oakland R&B singer, opened the show. Samaria started with a simple backdrop featuring her name, keys, and drums. The audience seemed familiar with her music and if they were not, they were supportive and living in the moment. Samaria interacted with the audience well and related to them on the basis of terrible ex's and a journey through a toxic relationship. Samaria’s songs had interesting cadences, but what was  missing for us was backing vocals on the track to delineate verses from choruses. After doing some research we found that the “Out of the Way” singer has a sound also inspired by 00s R&B, with a some tracks tracks full of fun guitar licks and drum patterns reminiscent of Timbaland, but none of those instruments were present in her performance. Her backline consisted of a keyboardist and a drummer. Although Samaria sounded good, at times the keyboard’s volume was overpowering.  She worked the stage, nonetheless and  good job. 7.5 out of 10 ! ()SCORE

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CVI-FMictlA" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Okland R&B Singer, Samaria as the opening act for FLO's tour "FLO Live." Samaria on stage singing with her band.Oakland R&B singer, Samaria performing on stage at Webster Hall as the opening act for FLO (Jorja, Renee and Stella) for their sold out "FLO Live" tour.

Next up was the much-anticipated FLO, and the girls opened with "Not My Job." They were all dressed in black with cute cutouts, and their outfits were shimmery (I love sparkle!) which was a welcome change from their wardrobe at the MOBO awards. Their faces were beat (we love a “natural glam”),

their vocals were tight, and their choreography was utilized well to highlight grooves. The chemistry between the girls was undeniable, and their vocal blend was seamless— absolutely chill-inducing. Jorja's thick vocal tone took the songs to a soulful place, and Stella's airy delivery allowed her to float at the top of the group's harmonies. Renee's smooth, warm alto voice added a coolness to their sound and gained a lot more stability in live singing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention FLO’s band! The band consisted of some past schoolmates, which added another layer of charm to the whole set!

The absolute highlight of the show was "Losing You” In this live arrangement, the girls emoted and connected with the audience on a deeper level. Chris loved harmonized adlibs, brand new bridge and extra outdo including a guitar solo.  As a special treat, FLO performed a cover of Jamelia's version of "Superstar" by Christine Militon.  Even though a majority of the NYC crowd had no clue who Jamelia was and didn't know the song, the girls did teach the chorus before singing the song, so some fans were able to follow along. Chris and I certainly knew the song and even received compliments on synchronized impromptu choreography.

Speaking of choreo…

The girls' choreography was something we were curious to see, and they did not disappoint. They danced well, and they were given grooves as opposed to sharp movements that really complemented each member's personal style. In terms of technique, they aren’t K-pop idols so we weren’t expecting crazy formations and “point dances,” but you can tell they put in the work to provide another layer of entrainment to the experience. There was even some chair-ography for their performance of "Change," a new track about a lover's inability to "do the work" necessary to improve the condition of the relationship.

The girls did perform their latest single, "Fly Girl" ft Missy Elliot, and although Missy Elliot was present in the audience, she did not join the performance.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/flolikethis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@flolikethis</a> big up to Flo out here in the states on the road working hard! Keep doing yall thizzzzle!!!🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flygirl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flygirl</a>💇🏾‍♀️💃🏾💅🏾 <a href="https://t.co/Qtgr2f2KBl">pic.twitter.com/Qtgr2f2KBl</a></p>&mdash; Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) <a href="https://twitter.com/MissyElliott/status/1649101483621728272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 20, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Fans (the FLO Lifers) were absolutely living their best lives! They knew all the words to FLO’s songs—the BGV's and the ad-libs. It was a room full of genuine love and screams! FLO closed the night with their debut single, "Cardboard Box," and this performance featured a heavenly bridge section.

Overall, the show was good, and for this to be the group's first headlining tour, we were impressed with the girls’ improvement from performances like the MOBO Awards, where nerves played a noticeable factor. FLO is worth the hype for sure, and we cannot wait to see the new era of girl groups being led by FLO. For their NYC debut, we rate them a 9 out of 10! FLO Lifers left Webster Hall with unforgettable memories and high expectations for FLO's future performances.