Konsert R(A) – Updated Poster Details Promo…

I had uploaded a promo poster of the abovementioned event a few weeks ago, but the line-up has since changed. Avara, has been replaced by Matta Band, the group who made the song “Ketahuan” famous back in 2007. And as an added bonus, three local acts will be featured in this concert. You might have heard of the Anugerah Band 2008 champions, Rancour. But you might not have heard much of Sarah Liyana and Zul Hilmi unless you’re avid listeners of the “Go Glam” segment on RIA 897FM, hosted by Hafeez Glamour or if you’re the kind who scours Youtube for unpolished diamonds.  I think for the price of $68, you’re getting value for money with five good acts, and I’m sure the young upstarts from Singapore will not disappoint. If you’re free this Sunday and have nothing else to do, why not head down to Grassroots Club Auditorium and enjoy the concert, which is organised by fans of music, rather than the usual event promoters, a first of its kind in Singapore

Video courtesy of Sarah Liyana Musa

Video Highlights of Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu…

Start of a brand new work / school week for working adults and school-going children / teenagers. I know Monday is quite a blue day for some, if not most of us. In the last entry, I did mention that I was going to upload video clips on the above subject matter, the sold-out Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu held at Fort Canning Park on New Year’s Day. So wait no more as I have compressed the night’s happenings into three parts. Apologies if the sound you hear is not of good quality. I was seated quite close to the speakers that night, so I dunno if that might have an impact on what you would be hearing. Thank you to everyone who dropped by to read the last entry last Friday, which resulted in my readership jumping four-folds. I normally struggle to get a daily visitorship of even 300, so that was quite a memorable day to savour. Thanks to DJ KC for promoting my entry on his Facebook page…

Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu…

For regular readers of this blog, I know this comes as a massive surprise to you, but no, I was not at The Float @ Marina Bay for Countdown 2012, even though one of my favourite singers, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, was performing on my 33rd birthday. I was happily relaxing and watching the show from the comfort of home, and I would have probably gone had my favourite team not played that night. But the night of rest did me good as I welcomed 2012 by attending the RIA 897FM-organised “Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu” event held at Fort Canning Park on the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. I have been delaying this particular entry for the fact that I have been quite busy, to the point I was reminded to post this entry as soon as possible by none other than the creative mind behind the success of the most highly rated programme on the radio station, none other than DJ KC himself.

Speaking as the co-administrator of the official blog of the said programme, I have witnessed first hand how the show has evolved since he took over the helm some four years ago from the previous incumbent Zan Sofiyan. KC has done such a fantastic job to lift the quality standards of the programme to the point that his occasional absences through leave or sickness is lamented by fans on the station’s official Facebook page Wall. Even when there were occasions he was not feeling well, he soldiered on, or came back just to do the two hour programme, its popularity spreading across the world with the availability of internet radio and via radio applications on smart phones. I know how popular it is just by looking at the number of emails received by fans of the programme who shared their personal experiences, a bulk of them coming from across the Causeway, as well as as far away as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, even Dubai. The show is such a hit that to have a concert was a good way to show the station’s appreciation to the fans.

This popularity was very much evident on the day of the concert, when 6000-odd fans thronged the lush lawns of the Fort Canning Park. When I reached the venue close to 6pm, a long queue had formed outside the entrance. I was fortunate enough to get a parking lot as a vehicle had moved off just as I was nearing it. We were allowed in at about 6:20pm and it was a sight to behold seeing the area being filled to its brim. I have never seen a local concert filled with just local acts get such a positive response as this. But then again, the topic of the supernatural has always been a fascinating and intriguing one in our community so it was no surprise that even without big names to grace the event, the theme itself guaranteed bums on the lush green grass of the venue. And I believe this was the first supernatural-themed concert held in a grand way in Singapore. Forget any Halloween-related parties, but correct me please if I’m wrong here.

I was pleased to know that a space was set aside for concert-goers to observe their obligatory responsibilities and it was heartening to see quite a number of people observing them judging by the queues and patient waiting outside the area. The only thing I was a little peeved about was why did the pre-show host, who happened to be one half of the hosts during the Grand Final of the Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament, choose to use the time between 7:10pm and 7:45pm to hype the crowd and encouraging them to make a lot of noise??? I personally felt it was disrespectful to those who were observing their responsibilities. He could have at least started say around 7:30pm, not right smack when people were saying their prayers. I dunno if this was the station’s decision to hype the crowd as early as possible or was it the pre-show host’s own doing, but I hope in future, a little amount of respect would be observed. I’m sure for anyone who observes their daily obligations, they hate to be interrupted or disturbed by things happening around them and want full concentration.

Fiza O and Hassan Salleh…

The show began with the hosts Fiza O and Hassan Salleh, the station’s programme director coming on stage dressed as what appeared to be hideous characters. Not sure what character was Mr Hassan supposed to be portraying as he was dressed what appeared to be “Hantu Kum-Kum“, but Fiza was dressed as a “Langsuir” complete with make up on her lower neck to show that her head was previously “detached” from her body. As they welcomed us to the show and thanked the various sponsors, they also took the time to remind the audience that the concert also marked the official launch of the “Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu” VCD / CD containing horror-themed songs normally heard during the weekly two-hour programme. These songs were composed and performed by our local acts as well as DJ KC himself. The VCD / CD also contains a short film titled “Saka Mak Minah” and acted by none other than the deejays themselves. On top of that, there are short video clips of KC reading ghost stories at locations in Singapore regarded as haunted. The VCD / CD was sold at a special rate of $18.00 that night whereas it is available in good stores today at a price of $19.90. Suffice to say, the popularity of the programme guaranteed three-thousand odd copies being sold that night!!!

Besides the concert marking a milestone for the radio station with the launch of the VCD / CD, it also coincided with the annual Projek Rentak competition organised by RIA 897FM and COMPASS. As the theme of this concert was of the supernatural and horror, songs composed for this competition also had to have the same or related theme. The three finalists who came on stage to perform their songs – Klutz (“Mentera Dendam Puteri“), Iskandar Rawi (“Lari“) and Md Bakti Ridhwan (“Madah Pohon Beringin“) did not disappoint. Each song and performance had their own strengths and speciality. In the end, the humour-infused “Lari” was chosen as the winner of the competition, even though my personal favourite was Klutz‘s “Mentera Dendam Puteri“, who came in second. Md Bakti Ridhwan‘s “Madah Pohon Beringin” bagged the Best Performance of the night to go along with the second-runner up tag that he received. All the compositions were judged by Brader Bo, Moliano, Sham Wahab and Noor Hasnah Adam; music producers, composers and lyricists in their own rights. The Best Performance category was judged by Dr. Edmund Lam, president of COMPASS and Ms Zakiah Halim, Assistant Vice-President of Malay / Indian / Expat Programming for Mediacorp Radio.

Iskandar Rawi (second from right) was the winner of Projek Rentak: MJ12, seen here with Ms. Zakiah Halim and his fellow performers receiving their award…

I will not delve too much about the other performances and segments that night as you would be able to view them in the video montage that I will put up in due time. I was suitable impressed with the guest band that was formed (they called themselves “The Momoks“), led by Brader Bo, with Fadly of X-Tech / No Strings Attached fame on lead vocals. Fans of the 2008 Anugerah Band competition would remember Fadly for the vocal powerhouse that he is, and that night he whipped the crowd into frenzy with his unmatched prowess. I know that certain quarters complained that it felt more like a rock concert but I thought the songs performed that night were given a fresh injection with much needed energy. As the title of the concert had stated, “Jangan Takut Hantu“, the pumped-up feeling I got from the blasting music sure as hell made me forget about being scared of ghosts. If that was their intention by playing that kind of loud music, then I think they have achieved their aim. Other local acts who performed that night were Shafyre, Kraton, Rifaah Ridzuwanulhakim of 2D fame and B8, whom I heard, regrouped again specially for that night only.

One itinerary in the programme line-up that had the crowd in stitches was the “Momok Paling Sachok” segment. Concert-goers were encouraged to dress as ghosts, even the stagehands and concert crew were dressed as scary characters. Most notable of all was one of the crew members (if I’m not mistaken, it’s DJ Harie Azhari of XFM 963FM / Warna 942FM), who portrayed the irritating “Makcik Keropok” by walking to and fro giving crackers and asking for money in return. The five finalists who went on stage for that particular segment certainly had to be given full marks for the effort they came up with. I must say most in the audience were also very much impressed by their respective get-ups. Some even formed queues to take a photograph with them. In the end, the one who won the segment was the lady by the name of “Wati“, who was dressed as a Pontianak. The funny part about that segment was not only were the “ghosts” cracking jokes on stage with the hosts for the segment, Aura Shai and Nity Baizura, but they were also game enough to dance along to the tunes of Inul Daratista‘s dangdut songs.

The true star of the show: DJ KC…

All in all, I had an enjoyable night. What was supposed to end at 10:30pm ended about thirty-five minutes later, but I did not feel the time passing by at all. I heard complaints afterwards that the sound system was bad. Where I was, it did not feel that way, maybe because I was seated quite close to the speakers. I was just thankful that I had premium “seats” in the house. As the co-administrator of the Misteri Jam 12 official blog, I felt heartened by the turnout of the concert. I felt extremely happy and proud for the producer of the concert himself, KC, whose hard work to make this programme and subsequently the concert a success, paid off big time. People only see the end product of his efforts but the amount of time and sacrifices he puts in daily to entertain listeners is extremely commendable, especially moreso when days leading up to the concert, he stumbled upon several personal obstacles to overcome physically and mentally. For that, respect and my humble salute is accorded to him and to me, he was the true star of the concert. No one can begrudge him of that.

Video clip courtesy of DJ KC‘s Youtube channel…

Snapshots of Konsert MJ12: Jangan Takut Hantu

Fazly Sapuan, lead singer of Klutz, performing “Mentera Dendam Puteri“, the group’s composition that made it to the finals of Projek Rentak: MJ12.

Iskandar Rawi, the composer of “Lari“, the other finalist of Projek Rentak: MJ12

Md Bakti Ridhwan, the son of Md Khair Md Yasin of Rausyanfikir fame, performed his composition “Madah Pohon Beringin” with his father contributing to the lyrics to the song…

Dr. Edmund Lam, President of COMPASS and Ms. Zakiah Halim, Assistant Vice-President of Malay / Indian / Expat Programming, Mediacorp Radio, were the judges for Best Performance of the night by the three finalists of Projek Rentak: MJ12

Moliano was one of the judges for Projek Rentak MJ12

Klutz awaiting their fate…

Projek Rentak: MJ12 2nd Runner-Up: “Madah Pohon Beringin“…

Iskandar Rawi and friends bracing themselves for the final results…

Klutz receiving the 1st Runner-Up award…

 

 “Makcik Keropok” was in the house as well…

Fadly of X-Tech was in his element that night…

So was Brader Bo

 Shafyre performed “Jampi Serapah” and “Mimpi Duyung“…

 

 Nity Baizura and Aura Shai took over hosting duties for the “Momok Paling Sachok” segment…

 

 Contestants of the “Momok Paling Sachok” competition…

Makcik Keropok” dances along to Inul Daratista‘s “Goyang Inul“...

He must have breathed through his mouth throughout the night…

The winner, Wati the “Pontianak“…

Fuzzley of B8…

 Izad of B8

 KC reading a story to the audience…

 Lamenting how hot the mask was…

Rifaah Ridzuwanulhakim of 2D fame, performed “Hantu Relek One Korner“…

Rico, the younger brother of Rifaah

KC performed a medley of songs normally heard during the Misteri Jam 12 programme…

Rifaah unmasked…

 

Surayah of Kraton performing Misha Omar‘s “Pulangkan“…

She was complemented well by her husband, Jufri, whose showmanship is a hallmark of the group’s performances…

Kraton also performed their hit single “Fanaq” that night…

KC gave away these cushions to the audience…

The finale witnessed the performers singing the classic hit “Pontianak“, made famous by Allahyarham Dato’ Ahmad Daud

Muzik Festival Melayu Promo…

Muzik FM 2012 promises one full day of entertainment galore on 18 February 2012 at Marina Barrage Green Top. With stellar foreign acts like One Nation Emcees and Sofaz, along with award-winning artistes KOTAK, Dayang Nurfaizah and Amanda Imani, the event brings together artistes from the Nusantara under one roof!!! The likes of Shahridzuan Selamat, Nana Zakaria, The Sallys, Merah and Virus Cinta are some of the artistes who will be flying the local flag. The first half of the event (1-6pm) will be helmed by local acts while some of them will join the foreign acts on stage when the second half resumes at 7:30pm. For $35, this is value-for-money with ten hours of entertainment!!! What’s more, there’s an offer of “Buy 5 tickets & Get 1 Free“!!! Let’s picnic under the sun and the moon with friends and family and be entertained by great music and songs from our local and foreign acts!!!

Simfoni Lebaran Revisited…

I know this blog has been dead for the past month or so. It was meant to be deliberate that way since I did not attend any entertainment-related events of late. We are already into the last few days of Syawal. Goodness how time flies. Hope that your respective celebrations with family, friends and loved ones have been joyous and happy occasions so far. Before I move on and I hope it’s not too late to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim readers Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I am also taking the opportunity to apologise from the bottom of my heart if my reviews or entries have been misunderstood or if I had angered and disappoint anyone through the words, tones and vocabulary used to express my thoughts. I’m not perfect, but I am also not holier-than-thou, so if I had come across as such, then I am truly sorry for potraying it.

Since this entry is a warm-up before I start being active all over again, it’s just going to be a short one with a compilation video of Simfoni Lebaran snapshots I took some two months ago. Yes, you guys might have watched the show on the eve of Hari Raya but the actual recording of the event was done on 8th July 2011, a week before the Anugerah Planet Muzik event. For those expecting me to post a review of the recent Wings concert, no I did not attend it. I would have gone if Search was part of a Double Trouble concert but not Wings alone. I’m also not going to review the upcoming Zain siblings’ (Ziana & AnuarPesta Raya concert, even though I am attending the event solely for Anuar Zain, so hopefully no one’s expecting me to post photographs, video clips or reviews concerning the show. Last but not least, enjoy the video…

Imran Ajmain 100 Hari Acoustic Tour Reminisced…

(Graphics poster courtesy of imranajmain.com)

I did say in one of my previous entries that this blog will be on hiatus during the blessed month of Ramadhan. As in years past, it has been that way, as I normally do not attend any functions or events related to the entertainment scene during this month. But I know I owe the readers of my blog this particular entry, which is why I decided to dust the three-week old cobwebs away and return for a short update. We are already halfway into the fasting month and we’re left with another two weeks. I hope that each and everyone of you are doing well, in the pink of health and grabbing every possible opportunity that Almighty Allah have bestowed upon us this month. Such is the beauty of Ramadhan, that I wish it could be a daily occurrence.

Anyway back to the event that I attended a few days after Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 was held here in Singapore. Imran Ajmain‘s “100 Hari Acoustic Tour“, was a celebration to commemorate him quitting smoking for good. It all began with him doing the countdown to 100 days on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook back in February 2011, without telling anyone what he was counting down for. By the end of it, he achieved his mission and the acoustic tour was one that he wanted to share with his ardent followers. The last I attended Imran‘s showcase was back on 26 February 2008 at the Arts House @ Old Parliament Building. I did attend the launch of his second album “Punca Dan Tindakan” a year and a half after that at Rendezvous Hotel, but it did not quite count as a showcase, even though he sang a majority of the songs found in the album that night.

This showcase featured the likes of Dr. Fazley Yaakob, eternally remembered for the hit “Asmara Ini” and Hydir Idris, a semi-finalist of Anugerah 2009, who in my opinion was one of the favourites to win in that year’s competition. I dunno if it was secretly planned or was it impromptu, but our talented local act, Roze Kasmani, who was in the audience was also roped in to sing with Dr. Fazley and Imran himself. This was a feel good (and not to mention, sold-out) event shared by everyone who came. This was evident from the smiling faces that left the venue, Badoque Cafe, feeling extremely satisfied. With good company, excellent service, great entertainment and of course the tantalising menu, what more could we have asked for??? It was a night to be remembered and even if Dr. Fazley did not sing some of my personal favourites like “Cerita Asmara“, “Hujan” and “Sesaat Kau Tiada“, I have no complaints and went home a happy man…

Snapshots of Imran Ajmain’s 100 Hari Acoustic Tour in Singapore

Imran welcoming us to the showcase…

Hydir Idris opened the show with three songs…

He surprised yours truly for having the gift to play the guitar…

Most importantly, Hydir is more composed and at ease performing as compared to two years ago…

I last watched Dr. Fazley performing live at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2002…

He has lost none of his charisma and stage presence… The trademark moustache is gone though… Hahahah…

An Imran Ajmain showcase is never complete without his interesting anecdotes…

I guess that’s what the fans missed, besides his presence on stage to entertain us with his soulful voice…

The night’s performers with their accompanying sessionists, Ucop (left) and Syazwan (right)…

Konsert Ramuan Reminisced…

I know that most of you entering this site would expect to read something on the Anugerah 2011 Grand Finals this past Tuesday night. While it is tempting to type on something which is still so fresh in my head, it is not something that I do immediately after a show on a regular basis. Yes I was at the show live, but I always make it a point to watch it again via the Catchup site to listen to the contestants’ vocals once again for clarity sake. So you guys coming in here would have to wait till at least the end of the week before I put up my entry and share what I feel, with regards to the Grand Finals. First up is Konsert Ramuan, which was  successfully held at Goodman Arts Centre on 19th June 2011. The concert, as was mentioned in my promo a couple of weeks ago, was a fundraising affair in support of “Ramuan Rahasia“, a locally-produced film directed by award-winning director, Sanif Olek.

Hosts for the day – Junaidi Sali & Effandy Idris

It has been quite awhile since I last attended an event of such magnitude, which brought together an array of local acts to grace the stage with their different sets of styles, genres and ensembles. I think the last one I had attended was RIA‘s Birthday Bash in February 2010 where a cast of strictly local acts had graced the Republic Polytechnic’s Convention Centre stage. Even then the number of acts were not as many as this one. Here, all the acts, a total of twenty-five of them according to Sanif himself via his Twitter, came together for a common cause, a bond that unites them, a shared vision to see through a mission of realising the dreams of finally seeing our first true local Malay film on the silver screens. Oh how heartening it was to see everyone, from the mainstream to the indies, joining forces for one goal – To raise funds for the making and completion of Ramuan Rahasia.

Sanif Olek, the film director of  “Ramuan Rahasia” addressing the audience…

The timing of the event (11:00am) till evening (I had left at around 4:45pm not to know what time the whole thing ended) felt like a Malay wedding event. Besides being entertained by stellar acts, the event became a reunion of sorts amongst people who have not met in ages, just like a Malay wedding scenario. A lot of happy faces were seen, tired but satisfied looks by the organisers and people who had worked hard behind the scenes to make this event a success. Though the turnout could have been better, it was still a good start and I sincerely hope that it would have gone some way to ease the funding burdens. The event reminded me of the local music festival “Melayu Ada“, which was also organised by Cokelat Events & Production. This time round, they joined forces with Sanif‘s “Reeljuice” company and a number of good friends in the local industry.

Due to family and other commitments, I could not be at the event throughout and only reached the venue slightly before 3:00pm. By then, I had missed out on the performances of several artistes like Anugerah Planet Muzik nominee SleeQ, Projek Rentak 2010 winner X-Clusive, former Bhumiband vocalist Adha, and acts like Tujuh, Revolusi, Yunos Erksan and Asnida Daud amongst others. As I had planned to join up with the rest of my family members who were at City Square Mall for the Anugerah Finals Roadshow, it meant I missed out on watching acts I’ve not seen in a long while, most notably Roze Kasmani, Imran Ajmain, Klutz and Kraton. But I’m sure everyone who came enjoyed themselves and I was no exception. I enjoyed watching Dinodi making a rare live appearance and belting their haunting hit “Cinta Tragika“, but most people forget / do not know that they did record an album with excellent tracks other than that hit.

For $10 / $12 entrance fees, and watching so many acts performing under one roof, it was certainly value for money and proved that Singapore do not lack quality talents. They just lack the support from locals who are more in tune with what is across our shores and beyond. Or from my personal observations, the regular monthly wedding / halal food exhibitions at Singapore Expo have somewhat contributed to the decline in interest of watching paid concerts / shows / gigs amongst local entertainment lovers because they can watch them for free at these events. The only way for our local music industry to grow is if we make the time and effort to come down and watch them, regardless of entrance fees or buying their singles / albums and not downloading them illegally. It was heartening to see local acts, singers, bands, actors coming together and show their solidarity. It certainly bodes well for the local industry to have people fighting for one another. I leave you with a song specially composed and written for this fundraising effort and performed live during the concert by Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal. A lovely song for a noble effort. I hope you would help to contribute too as efforts are still ongoing. For more information, do drop by www.ramuanrahasia.com

Snapshots of Konsert Ramuan

One half of the wacky hosts – Junaidi Sali

 The other half – Effandy Idris

The supporters of local music…

Some of the items being sold at the flea market outside the event hall…

A new face on television thanks to the Kopi Bujang series – Raimi Liandy Safari (right) – manning the ticketing booth…

This hip-hop duo who call themselves “A-Phat“, reminds me of 90s group Nico from their dress sense and having a group member’s moniker as the name of the group…

Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal, never fail to wow me with his voice…

I did not understand a single word that the lead vocalist of A.U.M. sang that day (or should that be screaming???), but their music is infectious, I felt like headbanging along…

A comeback long-awaited – Dinodi

Shafyre‘s showmanship is top-notch. Like a true rocker…

Izzat Yusoff, lead vocalist of Shine, was another who did not disappoint. Another group that made me want to dance along to their reggae beats…

Zaibaktian came on stage to join Dinodi in performing the former’s hit “Dunia Yang Fana“. This song collaboration was made into a soundtrack for the “Mimpi Mekah” programme which aired on Suria last year…

Zax entered the earlier rounds of this year’s Anugerah 2011 competition. Though he was quite decent with his delivery, I just felt his rendition of “Seroja” was too similar to how Ace had performed during the recent semi-final rounds…

Sanif with Sani Hussin and Aidli “Alin” Mosbit, two actors who are part of the “Ramuan Rahasia” film…

Maher Zain Concert Review…

I believe this has been one of the most anticipated concerts on our shores for quite some time. For the past year, rave reviews on his music and inspirational songs have filled our ears and injected a newfound love for the Nasyid genre, especially to those who were initially not inclined or have never gotten themselves acquainted. With the emergence of Maher Zain in the international music scene, Nasyid songs have suddenly become hip again, like the time the likes of Raihan and Rabbani amongst others, have successfully found their ways into our hearts back in the late 90s and early 2000s. His rise in the international scene has been nothing short of meteoric and dare I say, phenomenal as his music has transcended upon different lands and cultures across the globe. Stopping short of calling him a Messiah, I believe his music and songs have the ability to unite Muslims together as well as inspire us to better ourselves as servants of Allah and followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Along with positive response to his music and humble character, the clamour for his presence on our shores for a concert grew louder as the days in 2011 went by. Finally on the ninth day of March 2011, the news was confirmed that Maher Zain would be coming to town for his first solo concert. Such was the fervoured anticipation of his maiden concert here that when the day of ticket sales began on 1st April 2011, the SISTIC website slowed down and a lot of people found it hard to book the best seats possible, yours truly included. I had heard a lot of good things prior to the concert, on his previous performances around our region, and I had hoped that Singapore would also be able to witness it first-hand. The anticipation heightened further when the official radio station of the concert, RIA 89.7FM, did a stellar job in promoting it and by playing songs from his album on a regular basis, an initial move which caught me pleasantly by surprise, as radio have not played songs of an outright religious nature for quite some time due to Media Development Authority‘s strict guidelines.

Irfan Makki from Canada… 

And so when the day came (Saturday 18th June 2011), I attended my first concert with my kids in tow, when normally it’s just the wife and myself. It is not uncommon for children to be heard singing songs by Maher Zain these days and my kids are no different. They always pester us to play his songs every day, so it was only natural that we brought them along for their very first concert. We were one of the early birds to enter the concert venue (Singapore Expo Hall 3) at around 7:40pm. It was heart-warming to see people of all ages entering the event venue all wanting to savour the soulful voice that has captured our imagination and perhaps brought us closer to appreciate the beauty of God and HIS creations. It was even more heartening to note that no matter how early some of the concert-goers were, they were seen at quiet spots on the second level of the Singapore Expo building performing their obligatory responsibilities.

Just to sidetrack a bit. Out of courtesy, I had applied for media accreditation for this concert, mainly to use my own camera to snap photographs but my request was turned down by the organisers, Offshore Entertainment Production. I was told to use the photographs taken by their official photographers and to credit them once they are up on their official website. I thought it was no big deal as I have had to experience this kind of arrangement when I covered the Pesta Raya showcases involving Hujan and The Fabulous Cats at the Esplanade – Theatres By The Bay back in October 2010. The positive point was not having to lug my camera bag along with two active kids in tow. However, a concert which was supposed to begin at 8:00pm ended up starting only at 9:05pm. I dunno what was the cause of the delay but I had heard and seen from various complaints online that quite a number of people had to queue up a long time just to get into the event venue.

The multi-lingual Mesut Kurtis who hails from Macedonia. He speaks as many as five languages fluently…

I dunno if this was due to the various exhibitions happening at the same time last weekend, but I had anticipated the place itself would have been swarmed by about 10,000 odd people attending various events in the area. That was the reason why we chose to come earlier to get good parking spots and also because we were informed that prayer areas would be provided. But I certainly did not expect the wait to be so long. Even when it was 8:30pm, the concert venue was only about half full. I’m not sure who is to blame for this delay, the organisers or the people who came to watch the concert. I just feel that the organisers should have just started the concert right on the dot or at the very latest, half an hour after the stipulated timing printed on our tickets. This is afterall a concert of an Islamic nature and our religion certainly did not teach us about flawed promises.

It was slightly after 9:00pm that the host of the night’s event, none other than RIA 89.7FM‘s Hafeez Glamour, came on stage dressed just like Maher Zain himself and began to warm up the audience. He had three passes to give away and asked for three members of the audience to come on stage to claim it but somehow, the instructions got lost along the way and about twenty people of all ages ended up on stage. Each took turns singing Maher Zain‘s songs and those justifiably eliminated missed out on their chance either because they couldn’t sing as well as those who ended up getting the passes, they were impatient and rowdy or they were not able to pronounce simple words like “Allah” properly. Yes, it was a surprise to me and perhaps those seated watching the proceedings as well. I will reserve further comments henceforth regarding the matter and hope that we take the time to perfect our pronunciation on words found in our Holy Qur’an, as reciting them wrongly would give rise to different meanings.

Maher Zain – An image of serenity and tranquility…

Irfan Makki from Canada came on stage to open the concert with four songs (or was it five??? I lost count). Though I like the songs he sang that night namely “Mama“, “Waiting For The Call“, “I’m Sorry“, and “Mabrook“, I could not help feeling a little shortchanged as I had a feeling that Irfan did not perform live. I was seated near the speakers and I could hear the stark difference in the clarity of his voice as compared to when Mesut Kurtis, the second act of the night, and Maher Zain himself came on stage later on. I could be wrong about the part on singing live, as Irfan sang without the accompanying live band, relying instead on minus one / recorded tracks, while the other two singers of the night performed with the band. Due to the poor sound system, the music emanating from the accompanying live band drowned the richness of Mesut Kurtis and Maher Zain‘s voices throughout the night.

A song that left an indelible impression on me during Irfan Makki‘s set was “Waiting For The Call“. The song was accompanied by a video montage of scenes from the two holy cities of Madinah Al-Munawwarah and Makkah Al-Mukarramah. I felt a lump in my throat seeing the footages and clips of people performing the Umrah and Hajj rituals. Though I did not cry like some in the audience, I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I recalled the times spent in the two holy cities during my honeymoon back in June 2006. I did not enjoy Mesut Kurtis‘ performance, not because it was not good, but I was already feeling bored that the main concert itself was late and it was close to 10:00pm, almost two hours of wait for Maher Zain to come on stage. But I have to say I like the old classic “Thala Al-Badr” sung by Mesut. Though the concert had its shortcomings, I tried to find positives out of it and listening to evergreen songs in praises of the Almighty and also to our beloved Prophet more or less made up for it. I felt that it was not a bad decision afterall to bring my kids as they were exposed to these kind of songs, which for Syahindah is like a refresher course as some of the songs or zikir found in the songs have been taught to her in school.

I will not describe Maher Zain‘s performances per se as I am sure you would have viewed them via YouTube. All I can say is that the boredom, the impatience and anger I felt earlier at having to wait for his arrival on stage disappeared when he came on. And what a way to start his concert with the blast of pyrotechnics. I certainly did not expect it even though I saw the nozzels being lined up on stage. I thought they would shoot confetti instead. Maher Zain is a phenomenon that no matter what he does on stage, the audience would love it. Just that I felt the audience was kinda dead when the man himself asked us to sing and clap along. Actually it was not a surprise at all to me as Singaporean audience in general are known to be dead watchers of most concerts anyway. It was just unfair to the man that a 7000 strong crowd, a sell-out one for added measure, failed to display why his first concert here was an anticipated one.

Maher sang all but one of his songs from his debut album “Thank You Allah“. Not quite a surprise as the song could possibly have political implications attached to it and seeing that we’re not an Islamic country to begin with. But in any concert, you don’t expect the artiste to sing every single song in his / her album anyway. What he did not sing, he made up for it by singing twice for “Insya-Allah” and “For The Rest of My Life“, both songs he sang in English and Malay. It was impressive that he managed to sing the Malay versions without any promptings, especially “Sepanjang Hidup” which was released as a single quite recently,  a mark of professionalism on his part. It was also heartening to note that he addressed the audience by throwing in basic vocabulary from our language. He did not have to win the audience that way, but it truly showed his utmost sincerity, humility and honesty in sharing his happiness at performing for us and we were all satisfied with it. What was dissatisfying was of course the bad sound system. It was difficult to appreciate his voice and performances as a whole because of that.

After the concert ended, I joined several lucky winners from the Singtel and radio contests in meeting him backstage but my dissatisfaction returned once again when from being one of the earlier batches of people queueing in the line to meet the man himself, myself along with several others were whisked away by security to another side and we ended up being the very last to go in. Even though I tried reasoning with the security guys that we were all part of the Singtel and radio contest winners, they said that since we were wearing VIP passes, the instructions they received were for VIP Pass holders to join in the other queue outside the event venue, when we were all already queueing up backstage. Major cock-up on the organisers part and it is no surprise that I see quite a few people already venting their frustrations with them online, some going as far as saying they were treated like dogs. Though I would not go as far as to say I was treated like a mutt, the whole system itself was a major catastrophe which had no standardised uniformity.

I appreciate the fact that the organisers have done all they could to allow as many people as possible to meet and take photographs with Maher Zain, but the way we had to queue and wait and then queue again and ending up being the last was a bad experience as a whole as a lot of time was wasted. Even when we met him in person, we were not allowed to take photographs with him using our cameras and instead take as a group with complete strangers via the official photographers on standby. Being the last, I thought I could at least make small talk with the guy, but we were rushed through by his minders and I ended up just greeting him with the salam, shook his hands and taking that last photograph. But take nothing away from the guy, just by that few seconds of looking into his tired eyes, he was a picture of calm and serenity, his sincerity and aura of tranquility just shoots right through you. The anger I felt at being pushed down to the very last in the line disappeared when I saw his patience at entertaining his ardent fans, even when he was clearly tired.

Those who got to meet Maher Zain in person received these premiums as mementos…

True, there were hits and misses at the concert. Me being my natural self, my patience was severely tested that night as I am naturally a stickler for time. I felt a lot of time was wasted that night on waiting and waiting. But the concert itself, if you were to take away the waiting time, the bad sound system and the “dead” audience aside, was what I came to see and expected from a man who has been quite the music phenomenon in the Islamic world. I know some of you reading this entry might say that I am being ungrateful with my complaints when I had the opportunity to meet him in person in the end, while most could only wish they were in my shoes. I paid for the most expensive seats for myself and my whole family, it is only natural I expected the best out of the experience. I’m sure for those who paid less, they too would have complained on how far they sat from the stage etc. To some extent, I did enjoy the concert but I’m sure it could have been much better had what I listed above been realised. Hopefully the organisers could learn in kind and take in all the feedbacks received and make it a better one the next time. Still, thank you Offshore Entertainment Production for bringing in Maher Zain for his maiden concert in Singapore.

P.S. The photographs featured in this entry belong to a renowned caricature artist, the original “Mat Tocang“, who has been contributing his art works for a long time in our local Malay papers. He has strictly given the instructions that his photographs are not to be downloaded. So I hope you guys would respect his decision. Thank you brother for letting me share the photos you have taken that night in my blog entry. Appreciate it much. I simply love the caricature you made and gave personally to Maher Zain. What a stroke of genius!!! Thank you also to bro Hafeez Glamour for giving me the opportunity to meet Maher Zain in person via your radio contest.

This is the caricature that Mat Tocang had made for Maher Zain. Beautiful isn’t it???

Konsert Ramuan Rahasia Promo…

KONSERT RAMUAN is a music festival that brings together various Singaporean artistes, performing in solidarity to raise funds for Sanif Olek’s yet-to-be-completed feature film, RAMUAN RAHASIA. A total of 24 bands and solo acts will be sharing stage on Sunday, 19 June 2011 from 11am to 6pm at the Goodman Arts Centre (90, Goodman Road, S439053). Together, fascinating flea market with vendors selling eclectic products will add colour to the event!

KONSERT RAMUAN is only the first of a fundraising project series that hopes to create awareness about the film appeal for funds. Following this concert, a monologue ensemble, entitled MONOLOG RAHASIA, featuring established theatre/TV actors is already in the pipeline.

KONSERT RAMUAN tickets are already on sale @ $10 via Paypal (sanif.olek@gmail.com) and Zax (81137883). Tickets will also be available at the door on the event day at $12. Free entry for children aged 12 years and below.

For those interested to rent a table at the flea market, they may contact Zio at 90214934.

All proceeds from the concert will be channeled to the RAMUAN RAHASIA fund appeal.

ABOUT THE FILM

RAMUAN RAHASIA is a feature film, directed by Sanif Olek that has abruptly stalled since late 2009 due to insufficient funds. To date, only 60% of its filming has been achieved.  The project is now racing to be completed.

 It is an endearing tale of hope blending spicy food, classic Nusantara Malay songs and love into a digestible contemporary platter. It boasts a stellar cast from Dato’ Rahim Razali to Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Keagan Kang, Aaron Aziz, Sani Hussin, J A Halim and many more.

Principal Cast:

  • Dato’ Rahim Razali
  • Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit
  • Rafaat Hj Hamzah
  • Asnida Daud
  • Keagan Kang

Supporting Cast:

  • Aaron Aziz
  • Marina Yusoff
  • J A Halim
  • Sani Hussin
  • Keatar H M
  • Shah Iskandar
  • Khalid Baboo
  • Aryati Tyeb Papar
  • Nina Halim
  • Aminah Ahmad
  • Hashimah Hamidon
  • Norsiah Ramly
  • Dalina Jaapar
  • Roslan Kemat
  • Abdullah Ahmad
  • Nurul Aini

Original story by Sanif Olek

Screenplay by Gene Sha Rudyn and Sanif Olek

For further details on the concert, please contact Azizah Zakaria at 94248514.

[For more details about the film, please visit www.ramuanrahasia.com]