A leg­endary night

Malaysia’s queen of jazz makes a tri­umphant re­turn to Sta­dium Ne­gara.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - Re­view by WILLIAM K.C. KEE en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

IN the months lead­ing up to Sheila Ma­jid The Con­cert Kuala Lumpur 2017, the singer was quoted in me­dia in­ter­views as say­ing this would be her most am­bi­tious con­cert yet. It was to in­te­grate mil­lion-ring­git au­dio sys­tems and col­lab­o­ra­tion with top mu­si­cians in the re­gion.

And it was also to mark her re­turn to Sta­dium Ne­gara: it was 26 years ago (how time flies!) that she staged the aptly-named La­genda at that venue.

With all that hype gen­er­ated, her fans turned up in full force last Sat­ur­day evening – some from as far as In­done­sia and Brunei.

So, did Datuk Sheila Ma­jid de­liver on all the ex­pec­ta­tions? The an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes.

Although the con­cert started 45 min­utes late, the full-house crowd didn’t seem to mind, greet­ing her en­thu­si­as­ti­cally as she made her en­trance with Pengemis Muda.

Right from the be­gin­ning, the queen of jazz was in her el­e­ment; it’s amaz­ing how one petite-sized per­son can com­mand a sta­di­um­full of spec­ta­tors.

Her sense of hu­mour was ev­i­dent. She made fun of her brief foray into act­ing (1985’s Ali Se­tan, which spouted the in­fa­mous line “Ti­pah ter­tipu, pak!”), and how her en­dorse­ments nowa­days are for a more ma­tured clien­tele.

Upon nail­ing a high note ef­fort­lessly, she jested: “Not bad for a 52-year-old, huh?”

The light­ing and spe­cial ef­fects were im­pres­sive, con­stantly chang­ing to fit the mood of a song. And the sound sys­tem was top notch; her voice rang crys­tal clear all the way to the back of the sta­dium. Through­out the three-hour show­case, Sheila had three out­fit changes; each Michael Ong gown more glit­tery than the last.

For this con­cert ex­trav­a­ganza, Sheila teamed up with former col­lab­o­ra­tors Mac Chew and Jenny Chin. Her hus­band Acis also joined her on stage.

Sheila joked that when she pre­sented her en­tire reper­toire of songs to Chew, he com­mented that it would take three days to get through that list.

So, a shrewd de­ci­sion was made to present her hits in the form of med­leys.

There was a seg­ment ded­i­cated to her 1980s bal­lads, which Sheila en­dear­ingly called bunuhdiri (com­mit sui­cide) songs for their melan­cholic na­ture.

There was also a touch­ing med­ley ded­i­cated to com­poser Jo­han Nawawi, who passed away in March. She sang Jen­tayu, a duet Jo­han wrote for Sheila and his singer wife Nora in 1995, which bagged Best Song at the Anugerah In­dus­tri Muzik (AIM) a year later.

For one seg­ment, Sheila brought on sur­prise guest, Toh­pati. The well-known In­done­sian com­poser and gui­tarist has col­lab­o­rated with Sheila on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing her lat­est al­bum Boneka.

They per­formed a cou­ple of tracks from Boneka – the stand­out was the heart-wrench­ing (and yes, bunuhdiri ) bal­lad Haruskah Ku Pergi.

Then came the evening’s most crowd-pleas­ing seg­ment: her trib­ute to the late great Tan Sri P. Ram­lee. Af­ter per­form­ing a few catchy dit­ties (in­clud­ing Bila Larut Malam), she launched into her mon­ster hit La­genda.

It was at this point that the sta­dium truly came alive. Look­ing around me, it was heart­en­ing to see the au­di­ence – com­pris­ing dif­fer­ent races and ages – united in their sway­ing of hands, mouthing the words to the time­less song.

Sheila even at­tempted a Ja­panese num­ber Sparkle (which she pre­vi­ously per­formed when she broke into Ja­pan in the early 1990s).

To close the con­cert, her cho­sen song was Me­mori but of course, the au­di­ence was not let­ting her go with­out their dose of Si­naran.

So, Sheila re­turned for an en­core, per­form­ing Aku Cinta Padamu (ded­i­cated to her long­time fans) and nat­u­rally, the shiny dance num­ber that got ev­ery­one on their feet.

Truly, it was a mag­i­cal night, filled with nostalgic, feel-good mo­ments that will linger on in the au­di­ences’ minds. Let’s just hope it won’t take an­other decade for her to stage the next con­cert.

Sheila’s sec­ond cos­tume change of the night. All her three glit­tery out­fits are de­signed by Ong.

Be­sides her clas­sic hits La­genda and Si­naran, she also per­formed songs from her new al­bum Boneka. — Pho­tos: NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star

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