Joker Xue (薛之谦): Extraterrestrial World Tour, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, March 26th 2024 – Live Review

Joker Xue (薛之谦) is a singer who has proven himself to be one of the best in the Chinese music industry.

After seeing him for the first time, I can confirm, Joker Xue is truly one of a kind. It was absolutely eye opening to learn about him through his Extraterrestrial World Tour. The Chinese singer-songwriter has always been known to excel through his distinctive vocals and emotive performances, so I was extremely eager to see him live in concert.

Gathered at Rod Laver Arena on a Tuesday night, fans eagerly waited for Joker Xue to take to the stage. The stage was lit up, a circular UFO like feature beamed lights across the arena with a mysterious hanging ray under it.

The video introduction connected the dots and set the concept of the night in place before Xue even took the stage. Xue was an outer space being, Agent 0717, sent to Earth with a mission to destroy it. His spacecraft landed in Melbourne, the mysterious curtains dropped, and Xue stood high while belting ‘Alien From The Sky (天外来物)’.

I was surprised when he came in full force for ‘Prince Returns (王子归来)’, I knew he was a great singer, but did not expect a full choreography and dance break for this song. Xue hilariously introduced himself to Australian fans with comically horrible Chinglish (Chinese/English combined) which gained a lot of laughter and cheers from the Melbourne crowd. What I didn’t expect was how comfortable he was communicating to the patrons.

Xue had a dedicated segment which panned to different members of the audience where he simply teased those who came on screen. Xue announced the end of the world was coming, and further convinced everyone with a VCR of the Rod Laver Arena engulfed in flames. After the audience provided an insincere reaction to the end of the world coming, Xue commented that the audience shouldn’t be so happy and that they should be scared. Then roasted the audience to be more committed to the plotline since they decided to buy the ticket to be here.

His signature song ‘Actor (演员)’ had the audience singing with him from the very first note. But during the second verse when Xue stuck his microphone out for the audience to sing, silence spread through the arena which forced Xue to stop the song and cheekily criticize his fans for not knowing the part. The song restarted and he was satisfied by how loud they sang during the second attempt.

Xue’s performances were surely a show. They were spectacular, grand and true to the storyline. ‘Martians Have Been Here (火星人来过)’ and ‘Animal World (动物世界)’ had all the aspects of an alien abduction and post-apocalyptic vibes. Lasers and smoke, as well as dancers dressed in animal costumes who fought for a ticket for survival.

My personal favourite moment of the night was Joker Xue’s performance of ‘Ugly (丑八怪)’. There was no fancy stage setup for this number, no dancers to back him up, but there was so much emotion and passion that Xue infused into this performance which was breathtaking when Xue hit the climax. ‘Worship (崇拜)’ on the other hand was beautifully crafted and perfected, like a well-designed music video. It was a beautiful love story reenacted on stage and heart wrenching to watch.

Touched by the emotional love story, Agent 0717 travelled back in time to Earth to see more of its beauty. The stage was decorated with carousel horses and warm lighting and was a clever segue to connect a medley of his hit songs including ‘Serious Snow (认真的雪)’, ‘Ambiguous (暧昧)’, ‘Yellow Maple Leaf (黄色枫叶)’ and ’Gentleman (绅士)‘. Around the end of this segment, Xue abruptly jumped off stage to get up close and personal with his fans.

There were many fan interactions with patrons given the mic to sing themselves, Xue also took lots of selfies and even hoisted himself up on the barriers to give everyone a better view. A lucky fanboy was even given a kiss on the cheek by Xue after he was gifted a portrait that the fan drew. I was surprised how stable Xue’s voice was during this medley, especially while he was engulfed by his fans, Xue still provided a flawless performance.

After he returned on stage, the floor of Rod Laver Arena had turned into a mosh pit with fans all of out their seats, with complimentary lightsticks in hand which everyone’s waved up and down to ‘Accident (意外)’ and ‘Against Youth (违背的青春)’.

At one point in the earlier talking segments, Xue went on a rant about what the world is like in Australia. Driving on the other side of the road and all the creepy crawlies that lived here. He spoke about alligators, snakes, lizards, birds, jellyfish and spiders. I was confused as to why he spent so much time on these animals until we reached ‘What Do You Want Me To Do (你还要我怎样)’ where his prankster personality incorporated all these animals into the changed lyrics of the song.

Xue announced that the Alien headquarters were about to shoot a cannon to destroy Earth. In order to stop it, we vowed to protect the world and make changes such as protect the oceans, stop being haters online, and to not start wars and arguments. Phone torches were switched on to accompany the blue lightsticks and Xue gave up his extraterrestrial identity to become one with humans on Earth. His last song ‘Accompany You To Wander (陪你去流浪)’ was showered by confetti.

Of course, fans craved for more and screamed his name until he returned on stage with ‘It’s Been So Long (这么久没见)’. This particular song had me in awe with the lighting design. The screens displayed imagery of landscapes, sunsets and sunrises as Xue sat on the edge of a raised stage. The lighting that shot from the stage perfectly matched the displays which gave you the illusion of the sun shining on you as the sun was setting and rising. 

‘Like The Wind (像风一样)’ gave me goosebumps when he gently sang the first verse. I loved the song prior but hearing it in person really added to the artistry and beauty of this song. The way Xue pauses, breathes, and holds onto notes elevated the experience.

He mentioned the last time he was in Melbourne that he held a show for about five thousand people, but the show this time was doubled in capacity with over ten thousand attendees. Xue shared that he hopes that the next time he returns, he is able to double his audience again; and promised to return to Australia next year or the year after.

Just when I thought the show had ended with his last song, ‘Nian (念)’, Xue circled back and sung ‘Alien From The Sky (天外来物)’ again to conclude the concert. The entire arena was on their feet and Xue went to every part of the stage kneeling and expressing his gratitude.

I was surprised how committed to the storyline this concert was. It wasn’t a silly concept that was forgotten mid-way through. From the stage design, the lighting used, the prerecorded videos, the outfits Xue wore, every aspect was extremely well thought out and designed. They stuck to the story so well it really felt like a journey from start to finish. You could see Joker Xue’s passion and love through his performances. His comedic personality was incorporated into every song and the choreography and Xue’s dramatic and expressive movements made every song memorable.

To be perfectly honest, I am a casual listener of Joker Xue and did not know many songs coming into this concert; but I certainly did leave adding so many of his songs to my playlist. I know that I will dedicatedly follow Joker Xue’s upcoming works from now on and would love to see him again when he hopefully returns to Melbourne. I am already excited at the idea to be able to sing along to every one of his songs for any future Joker Xue concerts in my city.

Proudly presented by Live Nation Australia, Joker Xue performed a sold-out concert in Melbourne at Rod Laver Arena as part of his Extraterrestrial World Tour on Tuesday the 26th of March. He also performed in Sydney on Saturday 23rd March at Qudos Bank Arena, and Auckland on Sunday 30th March at Spark Arena.

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Photography of the Sydney concert supplied by Live Nation Australia.

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