In an intimate setting at Trinity St. Paul’s church in Toronto, Ontario, Thu Phuong intoxicated me. Accompanied by the young Canadian jazz band, she sang her heart out on autumn-themed ballads like Doan Chuan and Tu Linh’s “La Do Muon Chieu,” Pham Trong Cau’s “Em Ra Di Mua Thu,” Trinh Cong Son’s “Doan Khuc Mua Thu Ha Noi,” Phu Quang’s “Dau Phai Boi Mua Thu” and Pham Duy’s “Mua Thu Chet.” All tunes arranged in slow tempo except for one swing and one bossa nova.
The small group of audience (around 200) not only escalated her passion and enthusiasm, but also allows room for close interaction, and she sure knew how to work the listeners. I drove eight hours to see her and she didn’t disappoint me. After loving her Trinh Cong Son songbook (Nhu Mot Loi Chia Tay) and the autumn concept of Em Ra Di Mua Thu, I have wanted to hear her rendition of Trinh Cong Son’s “Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi.” My desire was fulfilled when I approached her and made a personal request during intermission. She performed the song the way I had imagined: powerful and personal.
Thu Phuong ended the night with a snippet of “Bang Bang,” her most popular hit America, in a cappella. As she sang, “Dem nay, em se khong bao gio quen” (“This night, I will never forget”), the audience responded in the same sentiment with loud applause in standing ovation. Many thanks to Thu Phuong, lady sings the fall, for an indelible evening of intimate, intoxicating autumn.
Update: A set of the concert photos (much better quality than mine) from photographer Phuc Pham.