“Hello, Philippines, XBacks, and EXO-Ls!” said the Chinese pop sensation Zhang Yixing, known as Lay, to his patient Filipino fans when he saw them again after 10 years.
Lay returned to Manila for his free intimate fan meeting and listening party organized by Warner Music Philippines at Teatrino at Promenade in Greenhills Shopping Center on December 4.
“Since I first came here, it has been 10 years. I miss you guys,” Lay fondly told his fans during the fan meeting.
The first and last time Lay came to the Philippines was in 2013 at the Dream K-pop Fantasy Concert where all the “OT12” members of EXO performed songs from Mama, their first mini album, and an iconic rendition of Yeng Constantino’s “Hawak Kamay.”
The rapper, singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, and producer debuted in 2012 as one of the 12 members of the phenomenal South Korean-Chinese boy group EXO and its sub-unit EXO-M under SM Entertainment.
In 2016, he pursued a solo career (he’s still a member of EXO, btw!) and released his first EP, Lose Control, which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s US World Albums charts. He is also the first Chinese solo artist to be included in the Top 25 on the Billboard 200 and Top 5 on the Worldwide iTunes Album Chart.
Two hundred twenty lucky fans picked out of the more than 20,000 who registered for the event, lined up early in the morning and waited eagerly for Lay. So when the countdown started, the small but intimate venue was filled with excited screams.
Lay entered the stage and sang his songs “Boom” and “Right Back” while playing the keyboard.
“Boom” was sung in a slower version which Lay explained: “I want you guys to feel the song, the emotion, to feel my love.”
He also shared that when he was interviewed by a Filipino reporter, he was told that there were so many fans waiting for him in the Philippines.
“So right now, I’m here. I’m back!” he said to the crowd.
That’s also why he chose to sing “Right Back,” he said, adding, “Hope you guys [will] be my right back. Just like the lyrics said, I’m always here if you want.”
The Philippines is the first stop in Lay’s Asia fan meeting and listening party.
Catching up with Lay
In the question-and-answer segment, Lay was asked about his goals for next year. A fan shouted “Get married!” to which Lay replied, “With who?” The crowd answered back, “Me!”
After thinking about his goals, he said he wants to come to the Philippines more often. “It took me 10 years, please.”
When asked if there’s a genre that he hasn’t done yet that he wants to do in his upcoming release, Lay said, “I want to try some Afrobeats.”
On what keeps him motivated in doing the things he loves, Lay said it’s his fans “because fans love, support and give me the power and energy to keep the motivation in everything.”
“And also, I love my job,” Lay added, and when his fans told him they didn’t love their job, he said, “Give up!” and laughed. “I think if you love your job, career, and boss, then you will get more money.”
Picking one more question, Lay was asked if he still has dreams he hasn’t pursued and is looking forward to.
He then turned to his fans for suggestions on who he should work with within the Philippines. The fans were quick to shout various actors, artists, and bands namely Sarah Geronimo, Al James, Moira dela Torre, Lola Amour, and more.
At the end of the segment, the fans sang “Right Back” to Lay and presented the video they prepared for him that contains clips of their appreciation and support for Lay through the years as well as messages from fans who weren’t able to join the fan meeting.
New songs, coming back soon
Lay’s Filipino fans are indeed the luckiest because they got to hear his new songs during the listening party.
Although just snippets of his new songs “Psychic” and “Step” were shared with the fans, the fact that they were the first to hear those songs was enough and got them more excited for the full versions.
Lay promised that these songs would be released “as soon as possible,” during the first half of 2024.
As for his solo concert GRANDLINE 3, he also made a pact with his fans that he would bring it to Manila in 2024.
“I fulfilled the promise, right?” he asked, pertaining to the promise he made of coming back to the Philippines.
Talking more about his direction, Lay said he wants to put some Chinese elements such as culture and language into his music.
“In the future, I think culture can cross country to country, languages, and interact, me and you, culture to culture,” he said.
For his final message, Lay said to his fans, “Keep healthy and stay with me until the end.”
Indeed, good things come to those who wait. For XBacks and EXO-Ls (like myself), Lay Zhang was definitely worth the wait.
Image credits: Warner Music Philippines