Actually the above title is much longer with the words “Pesta Raya Festival” omitted. This review is going to be shorter than most reviews I’ve done (maybe!!!), simply because I’m protesting against the anal rules being enforced by Esplanade i.e. no photographies / video recording allowed, on top of not allowing me to queue up to take photographs with the artistes after the show (sounds petty I know!!!), plus I did not jot down any notes on the songs being performed. I’m sure for regular visitors of this blog, you would know by now of my apparent “biasness” towards Imran Ajmain. For those who, like me attended this event, you would agree for sure, this “biasness” comes with a lot of credence and knowing for the fact that this young man is that DAMN GOOD!!! So I’m making no apologies if I were to wax lyrical with every review I make on him.
So where do we start??? It was not too long ago that Imran played second fiddle to Rahimah Rahim at the Esplanade on 19th November 2006, which was also another Pesta Raya Festival affair. This young man has definitely come a long way in such a short space of time (sounds contradicting huh???). If 2006 was a year of introduction to his massive talents, then 2007 has so far been a year of vindication to that. After doing well with his mini-showcase at The Playden on 25th April 2007, he followed it up by nailing two jury awards at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007. Since then, he has been making waves across the Causeway with his haunting hit “Seribu Tahun” and his hard work has been rewarded with his very own maiden concert at the Esplanade last night. Those in the arts / entertainment scene would know, it takes great responsibility, trust and an honourable CV to be invited to grace the Esplanade and it could not come any better for Imran, knowing he would have good sound system and acoustics in his favour.
This wasn’t just any concert. It was a huge responsibility on Imran to deliver old Malay classics from the P.Ramlee era to the current time, in his own rendition. As someone who did not live through the Jalan Ampas era to appreciate songs in those days, I walked into the Recital Studio of the Esplanade waiting to be blown away and I was not disappointed one bit. Every dollar of the $27 I spent on each ticket was money well spent, and I wished I could pay and sit through it one more time. Backed by the renowned Sri Mahligai, Imran switched from bossanova, mambo, chacha, waltz, tango, zapin, keroncong, asli and even dangdut so seamlessly, you wonder if you had just been watching a multi-talented singer or someone who is on the verge of even more greatness. Pray tell me of any singers besides Siti Nurhaliza who can switch genres effortlessly, even if Imran himself admitted he still sings them with an R&B lingo and for the fact that he did his homework by watching a lot of YouTube clips.
Listening to him sing, I think if he were to make the call for prayer or recite the Holy Qur’an, he’ll still nail it like how easy it is to snap our fingers. Based on yesterday’s concert, I feel that we have just found ourselves the Malay version of Michael Buble, even though Sean Ghazi fans have something to say about that. The rapport with the audience is forever improving, the jokes telling us this gentle giant is a funnyman himself. The only thing he needs to work on, if ever, is his dance steps and that hairstyle which made him looked like Aznil Haji Nawawi. Whisper it softly but I don’t think the two Idols can hold a candle out to him when it comes to being multi-genre. Yeah yeah you guys might argue they had to go through singing different genres during the Idol rounds but back then they were not asked to sing the genres I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The show was ably supported by Norfasarie and Hyrul Anwar. If there were any doubters before this on the credentials of these two generally known pop singers, last night’s concert was the perfect riposte. They might still lack the cutting edge that Elfee R. Ismail and Haryani Hassan Bakri have when delivering traditional songs but you cannot deny that the potential they showed was very much promising and I for one was very impressed by both their showings, especially with Norfa‘s delivery. She certainly has improved by leaps and bounds from the singer I remembered who was slightly overawed by the occasion at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2003 in Kuala Lumpur. I was thinking throughout the show, these singers should be ambassadors of some sort with regards to introducing old songs to the younger generation. The fact that this concert was a sold-out event speaks volumes of the credentials of these three young entertainers.
Last night’s concert was an excellent showcase of what our younger generation of singers could do to preserve old Malay classics and reintroducing them to those who did not live through that era. Even though they sang it in their own versions, Imran, Norfasarie and Hyrul Anwar delivered them with such panache, that you’ll fall for the songs even if that was the first time you heard them. If Liza Hanim is widely known as the best person to have made a tribute album to P. Ramlee and Saloma, I’m sure if Imran was given the opportunity to do so, he too will not disappoint and he might even win more fans across the Causeway. Hopefully this would be food for thought for him knowing he would be reading this review with much interest…
Thank you Imran, Norfa, Hyrul & Sri Mahligai!!! Thank you for making me fall in love with old songs and appreciating the different genres, especially the traditional ones. You guys rose to the challenge and you guys executed them beautifully. Sometimes I felt, too beautiful than even the original versions…