November 10, 2012 00:00 By Kittipong Thavevong
David Foster makes friends with his Thai audience in intimate show at Impact Arena
Canadian songwriter David “Hitman” Foster, returned to Thailand last Monday night after a two-year absence with a new set of singer friends and a new tactic to win the hearts of the local audience. This time round, he spent a large portion of his two-and-a-half-hour concert at the Impact Arena mingling and joking with the audience.
The 12,000-seat venue was not packed although there were audience members on all three floors.
At the start of the concert, “Hitman: David Foster & Friends Live in Bangkok”, Foster appeared in the centre aisle, bang in the middle of the audience. He greeted the crowd, shaking hands with audience members and having his photos taken with them on his way to the stage. He allowed a young man to take a close up shot of him on stage, noting that it was rare for a male fan to get such a chance.
Foster also made fun of some fans and a middle-aged gentleman named Issara in the front row became his main target. Foster started by accusing the man of falling asleep during his show, and on many occasions, the man became the butt of his jokes. Foster called him “Freedom”, which is the meaning of the man’s name.
“Freedom” was also the word with which Foster – at the piano – challenged American R&B singer/songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds to make up a song and sing it then and there. The 11-time Grammy Award-winning Babyface did not fail, coming up with a number about a lover crying for freedom. Babyface also sang “Every Time I Close My Eyes” and “When Can I See You”.
During the show, Foster went down to the audience and asked if anyone could sing.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, Foster had said that he would be coming into the audience “to see if you can sing”. And he was able to find at least three young women who could sing, in his words, “unbelievably and fantastically” well. Foster insisted that his discovery of the Thai talents was not fixed, though not everyone was convinced.
One discovery, 15-year-old Myra, was invited on stage to sing “Por Ti Volare” (“Time to Say Goodbye”) in English and Spanish with Puerto Rican singer Fernando Varela, who Foster said he “met on YouTube”.
Foster also introduced the audience to two Thai women identified only as “Doraemon” and “Nok”. According to Foster, the two women won a singing contest and were supposed to appear in his concert in October last year, which ended up being cancelled because of the flood disaster. The women, who each sang a song, first showed signs of nervousness but later managed to wow the audience with their powerful voices.
The concert began only slightly later than scheduled, rare in Bangkok were delays tend to run to nearer an hour. To warm up the crowd, there was a video clip showing dozens of successful artists who have worked with Foster, among them Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Toni Braxton, Michael Bublé and Whitney Houston. The clip ended with the claim: “Over half a billion albums sold”.
Foster, who has 16 Grammy Awards to his credit, played the piano for his singer friends along with a five-man backing band and a three-woman chorus.
English singer Paul Young sang his signature “Every Time You Go Away” (which Foster did not write). During the tune, he danced with a female audience member in the front row.
Ten-time Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter Chaka Khan sang four of her signature hits – “Tell Me Something Good”, “Through the Fire”, “Ain’t Nobody”, and “I’m Every Woman”.
Also joining the concert were New Zealand's classical crossover singer Hayley Westenra – who sang four songs, including “The Prayer” with the singer from Puerto Rico – and a three-man band from Sweden called Dirty Loops, which had a viral hit on YouTube and were immediately signed to a record deal by Foster.
All the performers came on stage together for the final number – Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”.
Foster returned for an encore, performing “St Elmo’s Fire” on the piano – the same tune with which he opened the show. The goodbye song was Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September”, sung by the chorus with Foster at the piano.