Hong Kong pop legend Jacky Cheung is well on his way to playing a record-breaking 220 shows for his A Classic Tour.
That would mean breaking the previous Guinness World Record of 146 shows, also held by Cheung, which was set during his Jacky Cheung ½ Century World Tour (from December 2010 to May 2012)
While the media is all abuzz about the Hong Kong Heavenly King being on his way to setting another record of the highest number concerts performed by a Chinese singer on a single tour concert, the 57-year-old himself prefers not to dwell on such achievements.
“Actually, it is not a special occasion for me. I never thought of setting any records. I’m not looking at numbers. I don’t keep count. It would be too stressful if I did,” said Cheung during an interview conducted last week after the media conference in Hong Kong to announce the finale of A Classic Tour.
A Classic Tour kicked off in Beijing in October 2016 and is set to wrap in Hong Kong in January 2019. That would make it two years since Cheung began the tour, though he says it is now normal for him.
“For me, this is not just a concert. It is like a part of my life, an everyday thing. And yet, each show is different. If you asked me which show is more memorable, I cannot answer because I cannot remember.
“This is a question people ask me a lot. Even if I was very happy (on a particular show), I would still forget. Because, I do it all again the very next day,” says Cheung, who is signed to Universal Music.
However, the singer admits that A Classic Tour is the concert tour he is happiest with throughout his career.
“This tour is the one I’ve contributed to the most. I have wonderful memories, and hope to have a good closure.
“I’m not sure if I can do better than this next time,” he says.
Keeping To A routine
Cheung made his debut in 1984 when he beat 10,000 contestants to win the Amateur 18 Hong Kong district singing contest.
After more than three decades in showbiz, it is apparent that he still loves to sing, even if it means giving up on many of the things he enjoys.
In order to give his best during his concert, Cheung has had to stop some of his favourite sporting activities like tennis and swimming.
“I’ve had to stop playing tennis because, it is a one-sided exercise, and may contribute towards muscle imbalance.
“Swimming is another activity I used to enjoy. But I don’t like the sun. And because my skin is very sensitive, I get sunburned very easily, and my skin starts peeling after that.
“So now, I don’t swim at all. Because it affects the nasal passages and respiratory system.”
Cheung has to control his diet to ensure optimal health as well.
“I won’t control the quantity, but the quality of food is very important. And, I must make sure there aren’t huge fluctuations in food intake or variety of foods.
“This is to ensure the body can get accustomed to a familiar routine, because it is important not to stress the body. And I don’t take sweet or spicy or oily foods,” he explains.
Cheung also says that he mostly stays indoors, and prefers not to go out when he is on tour.
“Apart from having a lot of work to do, I don’t want to get sick or injure myself unnecessarily. Sometimes, going out for fun may result in unexpected problems,” says the disciplined entertainer who is careful to sleep without air-conditioning, as he is wary of catching a cold.
“Routine is very important. It’s to keep our body in optimal condition,” adds Cheung, who says he doesn’t mind making such sacrifices as he feels that he owes it to his fans to make sure the tour runs smoothly.
Although he keeps to the same routine each day during his tour (on top of singing the same songs and performing the same choreography night after night), Cheung says he doesn’t get bored.
In fact, Cheung is happy with this disciplined lifestyle.
“I’m 57 this year, and I can still continue to perform full splits. Some 20 years ago, I could not even dance, let alone do splits.
“So, there are many things that I can do now that I was not able to do even when I was 20. But, most of all, I get to do what I love every day, which is singing,” he says.
Yet, he concedes that age is taking its toll. “Those days, I never needed to do any vocal training or song practice. Every concert night, I’d scream till my throat was raw and my voice was hoarse, and I’d dance till my feet were blistered and bruised. But, come the next day, I can still go on like new.”
Now, he paces himself with a maximum of three consecutive shows, after which he takes a rest day, and before repeating the process.
Cheung completed three shows – his 192nd, 193rd, and 194th – at Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Upcoming stops include nine shows in China, one in Britain, one in France and three in Taiwan, followed by a glorious 15-show finale in Hong Kong early next year.
When he kicked off his tour in 2016, Cheung had wanted to play his first show in Hong Kong. But, due to Hong Kong Coliseum’s popularity and booking procedures, it was not easy to get the dates he needed.
But he figured that even though he could not begin in Hong Kong, he hoped to complete his world tour in his home country.
“I am a Hong Kong entertainer. I was born in Hong Kong and I grew up in Hong Kong,” he says.
“I may not have been able to kick off my world tour in Hong Kong, but I definitely want to complete it in Hong Kong.
“Honestly, I can still carry on with this tour if I wanted to, because the market is very good, as is the response from fans.
“But I want to go home, and see my family, and give my time to my loved ones,” adds Cheung, who is married to actress May Lo and has two daughters.
The affable artiste is already looking forward to new projects, though he can’t confirm if it would be an album or musical or film. “I just want to see what else I can do, and where else I can go from here,” he says.