Vietnamese New Year Concert

Even though I was not planning on attending the Vietnamese New Year (Mung Xuan Dinh Hoi) concert in Virginia, I hopped along at the last minute after seeing Nguyen Khang and Ngoc Ha on the poster. The show hosted by Trinh Hoi and Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen with performers including Y Lan, Vu Khanh, Cardin, Manh Dinh, Bang Tam, Hong Dao, and Quang Minh, and supported by “de nhat” band Phung Quan.

Y Lan kicked off the show with Pham Duy’s “Gai Xuan” to give the audience a vibe of New Year. She then covered Trinh Cong Son’s “Nang Thuy Tinh” in a pseudo-blues style. At the break the keyboardist played the imitating saxophone keys that sounded perfect for a memorial service. It was so bad that Y Lan had to cut right back to the song to illuminate the keyboard-sax solo. In Vu Khanh’s performance of “Co Lang Gieng,” I lost count of how many times the band sped up and slowed down the tempos to catch his singing. It was also the first time I heard Trinh Cong Son’s “Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi” played in a cha-cha beat. During a bathroom break, I heard a perfect comment from a guy who said in Vietnamese that the band played one direction while Vu Khanh sang in another.

After Cardin, Manh Dinh and Bang Tam performances, Ky Duyen complimented how well done the band had played. Sure, to accompany Manh Dinh and Bang Tam, all they needed to do was playing that robotic bolero repetitively. I am not sure if Ky Duyen meant what she said or it was part of her job to say what she had to say, but it sure hurts her credibility every time she comments on something deafly like that.

At least Nguyen Khang and Ngoc Ha didn’t let me down. Nguyen Khang performed two songs. He did quite nicely with Vu Thanh An’s “Anh Den Tham Em Dem 30” with his authoritative voice. If the band could swing up his rendition of “Falling in Love with You,” it would have been refreshing to hear. When Ngoc Ha was speaking, she was shaking and nervous, but when she sang Pham Duy’s “Tinh Hoai Huong” and Pho Duc Phuong’s “Ho Tren Nui,” she was in full command. Even the band was surprisingly good when backing up her powerful vocals on “Ho Tren Nui”; therefore, they deserved her recognition for “climbing the mountain” with her.

Too bad I couldn’t stay for the second half of the show, but Nguyen Khang’s performance of “Anh Den Tham Em Dem 30” and Ngoc Ha’s presentation of “Ho Tren Nui” were worth the price of the common-class ticket.