I was at the National Indoor Stadium for work last weekend. Suddenly, my friend whispered into my ear: "You can sing out loud. I won't judge you."
I was there to cover the 5566 concert, a Taiwanese boyband from my growing years. Even if I had made a conscious effort, I probably couldn't stop myself from singing along. You see, it's muscle memory.
I wasn't alone. Throughout the three hour show, the 8,000 strong-crowd broke out into a spontaneous chorus of favourite tunes, such as 'Doesn't Matter' or 'I'm Sad'.
Surveying last Saturday's crowd at the stadium, my fellow concert-goers looked around my age — in their thirties — or older. I spotted signboard wielding fans, and fangirls accompanied by bored boyfriends/husbands.
When 5566 asked if anyone attended their last concert in Singapore, a zealous lady clutching a yellowed 5566 folder screamed: "Me!"
The last time 5566 stood on the National Indoor Stadium was in 2003, a year after starring in the highly popular drama, My MVP Valentine (2002).
"We've had our high points and low points. We never expected to be standing on the stage again 16 years later. To be honest, we don't know if we'll ever get to stand on the stage again," said Tony melancholically.
Ever the comic relief, Zax quipped: "Can you imagine us dancing at age 60?" He proceeds to groovelike an old man with creaky bones.
The early 2000s were the heydays of idol dramas made in Taiwan. Riding on the show's popularity, the drama actors would form boybands, release records and tour around Asia. Think F4 of 'Meteor Garden' and 183 Club of 'The Prince Who Turned Into A Frog'.
All the 5566 members —Tony Sun, Zax Wang, Jason Hsu, Sam Wang, Rio Peng —were cast in 'My MVP Valentine', an idol drama about romance and basketball.
Today's 5566 should be called 3344. Only three members — Tony, Jason and Zax — took to the stage to perform. Rio left the group in 2003 after hurting his back, and Sam reportedly fell out with the group.
The setlist was mostly filled with crowd favourites, such as 'One Light Year' and 'Standing By You'.
'I'm Sad', a My MVP Valentine's soundtrack, received the most love from the concert producer.
5566 sang the ballad multiple times, and each rendition was given a different treatment. One version infused a big band beat into the tune. Another version had Zax singing in a maudlin manner. But it was the original version which receivedthe most cheers.
The concert temperature hit a high when the trio performed amedley of Mandopop classics, such asMayday's Party Animal and Jay Chou's Nunchuck.
There was also new material from Jason. He performed 'Something Above Love', a lighthearted hip hop tune which he released earlier this year.
Towards the end of the show, Rio made a not-so-surprise appearance. He was a guest performer at the 5566 show in Taipei earlier this year.
Though Rio seemed rather surprised when he appeared on stage in Singapore.
When the elevated platform was raised, Rio's clothes were in slight disarray as a concert staff hurriedly put the finishing touches before scuttling away.
What followed was a barrage of playful jibes from his former members.
In a reprimanding voice, Zax said: "Do you look dressed? One of your shoes is still on the floor."Jason chimed in: "We performed for two hours. You couldn't get ready in time," said Jason.
The teasing didn't end there. When the chorus for 'Doesn't Matter' came on, only Rio continued dancing. The other three members and backup dancers suddenly stopped and watched on.
"I thought you said you guys wouldn't pull this prank again," said an exasperated Rio, who also got made fun of his laggy dance moves.
Boy, have we missed all the lively banter. Much of the laughter was provided by Zax, the band's resident comedian and motormouth.
In a pre-recorded video broadcast on the jumbo screen, Zax is seen asking his teenage daughter: "Do I sing better than BTS? Do I dance better than BTS?"
In case you were wondering, she answered "no". I totally agree with Zax's daughter.
To me and some other 8,000 fans, it didn't matter if 5566's fashion is a bit dated. Or if the singers were sometimes off-key.
What 5566 means to us is fond memories that can't be replaced by even the hottest band on this earth.