Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maher Zain: The Concert Review

Maher Zain in concert

[This is going to be long]

With all 9000 tickets all sold out, expectations must be high. In Malaysia, who is NOT familiar with Maher Zain? He is one classic example of an artist achieving overnight fame in the country. Suddenly his songs were everywhere.

On Friday, I had my boss’s permission to get back home early. Told him that I had to be somewhere. Maher Zain’s concert! The road to Melawati Stadium was congested and we arrived around 8pm. Outside, a bazaar greeted us, with rows and rows of Maher Zain merchandises.

We had the cheapest ticket, which costs RM 53 and had a potentially catastrophic view of the stage. My brother, being the rebel with a successful track record of sneaking into events without tickets, got us up to the RM 150 seats without batting an eyelash.

We were on the same level with the VIPs, and we were sitting closest to the stage, from the top.

Of course, I didn’t expect anything. Rule no. 1 of a great outing: Don’t expect anything. I learned that the hard way when I was stood up during an outing, and had to watch Paranormal Activity by myself in the cinema.

Just a quick background of the concert. In team teamed up (har har) with Awakening Records and a bunch of other guys to organize this 2nd concert. So naturally, In Team will be the opening act.

The show was supposed to start at 8.30pm but since it was Friday and it was raining outside, so you can imagine the jam. By the time it was 9, the hall started to fill up. The five strapping not-so-young-guys-anymore came out to perform their greatest hits. They did OK, but kudos to the medley. I remember listening to them when I was really young.


Then Irfan Makki came out. We were so excited to see him! Fun fact: Remember last year when a song went viral and people were saying it was Michael Jackson singing the Islamic song? Guess what? That was actually Irfan Makki! He sounds like Michael Jackson and he knows it. He went all out with the fedoras and everything.

His voice came out very shrill and high pitched, more than usual. We were like, MICHAEL JACKSON! MICHAEL JACKSON! I heard someone in the audience saying I thought he was going to have a big voice, he sounds like a perempuan!

I’m sorry that you are so katak bawah tempurung and because of highly critical people like you, Malaysia can’t grow faster. [Don’t cross with an adoring fan can?]

irfan makki

Irfan Makki’s performance was really good, eventhough we had a sneaky suspicion that he was lip-synching. Don’t really care. We had a first preview of his upcoming album, which we can’t wait to get our hands on!

maher on screen

Charming and cute Maher Zain

Maher Zain, the man himself came out after Irfan Makki’s superb performance. Of course he received the loudest applause, loudest screams and most flowers.

The thing about Maher Zain is, eventhough he didn’t have the strongest vocals, and occasionally going out of tune, (watched too much American Idol) it was his charms and his humility that made the crowd go gaga.

After the third song, I heard a raspy-ness to his voice. He took a few sips of mineral water and went “we still have a long night ahead of us, are you having fun?!” The crowd went YESS!

The fourth song was a duet with another artist, Mesut Kurtis from Macedonia. I only recently found out about him, about 2 months back and only listened to his songs a couple of times. Man can he sing. His Arab is extremely good, and he’s not even Arab!

In his video for Burdah, you could hear mellow drums but at the concert, the mellow drums were replaced with a schools of different drums. The music arrangement was fantastic and he did a good job getting the crowd going. At one point, he had the crowd singing to Burdah, which was 100% Arabic, so that means he already has loyal fans here.

mesut kurti

Dashing Mesut Kurtis

This is actually a muslim concert, but as Maher aptly said, we know how to have fun! The concert had it’s moments of mellowness and silence, when Maher went soulful on “Open Your Eyes”, and “Palestine Will Be Free” among others. In many ways, the concert really brought us down to earth, but at the same time it was jolly good fun!

Maher Zain debuted the new single he wrote just two weeks ago, called “Freedom” about the plight of Muslim brothers in freedom movements around the Arab region.

The best part came when having sung almost all the tracks off the album, asked the audience to choose a song for him to sing. They wanted Barakallah, but he jokingly said, that’s for next year; and went on to sing the girls’ favorites “For the Rest of My Life”, a song he wrote for his wife. Then, Barakallah, to which adoring fans welcomed with a loud applause.

Maher Zain showed some sport for doing so many encore performances at the fans’ request. He did Insyallah 3 times!

The only song he didn’t sing was Awaken, which I think is because of the sensitive issues at the core of that song.

All in all, the Maher Zain concert was thoroughly a humbling, enjoyable experience, which further cemented his status as an artist with an Islamic message in Malaysia. The performances were solid and spectacular and had everyone chanting الله اکبر . I mean, where else do you get that, really? I went home feeling having fulfilled something great.

More pictures below:

another one

another another


maher n mesut

And a video snippet of Maher Zain performing Freedom:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beef Bowls By The Book

swimming lalala

I think I wanna go to Singapore for the weekend. Thinking out loud again. If you can have a super power, what would it be? I would choose being able to fly. So cliche, so uncool. Yet the most liberating and adventurous.

Dad proposed going to the Taman Negara National Park this coming April. Everyone is gung ho about it. Guess who's quiet when my dad announces his plans? My mom.

We'll see how it goes. Will definitely be interesting. Ciao!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Specialization is For Insects

weekend love!

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

I’ve posted the quote above before, but I don’t remember when was it. This quote must be one of my favorites of all time because it speaks about the condition we are in. I’ve always envied people who multitask elegantly, juggling every single role like an expert performer.

I think it’s a natural thing for us to wanna do so many things at a time. But because our responsibilities push us to work on very specific things, we miss out on others.

I didn’t write much last week, it was such a hectic week and to top it all off, we had the Chinese New Year one week holiday before that, so the I’m not quite up to gear 5 yet.

Tomorrow I’m helping out a friend with a photography job, my first one, mind you. I don’t plan to do freelance anytime, considering I’m not that good of a photographer myself but when someone pays you to do something, you’ll have to do your best.

Have fun and enjoy your weekend.

On a very cheerful note, a blogger friend, Sabrina is getting married soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Braces Story

july 09 2
I never thought I needed braces, you know, until a few people actually advised me to wear them. By ‘few’, I mean about 4 to 5 people. Even then, I didn’t immediately run to the dentist to get braces on. Thinking about it, maybe I should have.
It was 3 years ago, exactly on Chinese New Year, when my family and I went to Pulau Kapas. So towards the end of the trip, this photo was taken: (ugly picture alert)

The double chin and the almost sneezing expression kills appetite.
That picture was the push that I needed. Let me tell you, the experience of going to the dentist was the most heroic thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I hate dentists. I totally ate up the scary dentist stereotype and that’s why I didn’t wear braces sooner. If it weren’t for my own free will, no way would I end up on the dentist’s chair. But in total desperation(vain –_-), I went to the dentist. Alone.
My family was in Pakistan at the time. I chronicled it here and here. I could’ve brought someone with me anyhow, but thinking that I might chicken out if they do follow, I decided to brave it myself.
The dentist was a kind man, he briefed me on the procedures before attempting to pull out 4 of my teeth. I’ve never had needles touching my gum before that day and you can just imagine how nervous I was. I stopped the kind dentist just as he had the needle positioned near my gum, and told him to brief me again.
15 minutes later, gum numbed, 4 teeth out. Drove back home, cotton pad jutting out of mouth like a moron and showing grandma the holes where my teeth used to be proudly.
Four teeth pulled out, two on each side.
One week later, braces on the bottom row. Two weeks later, braces on top row and that’s how I officially became one of the braces club members.
Three months after putting on braces, there are still lots and lots of gaps of where my teeth used to be. Looks a bit frankenstein-ish. Tip for the first 3 months: Don’t show teeth when smiling.
Five months later, my front row teeth is pushed in a bit but the gaps are still there.
april 09
One year after, aligned and gaps closed but still not quite there yet. Gums still swollen.
dec 09
20 months: teeth aligned tight, no gaps, no protruding gums. Just waiting for dentist to take off braces.
feb 10
22 months.

2 years of wearing braces, and they’re off!
Let’s do a comparison, shall we?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Before. (No braces yet!)
Nove 09 After.
Because my problem was the protruding teeth, wearing braces kind of changed my smile. Before wearing braces, smiling without teeth was awkward.
P6170358 Before.
CIMG9964edited After.
To be honest, smiling showing teeth was also awkward lah before.

Ultimate before and after.
Anyways, people usually come up to me and ask how much does it cost to wear braces? Mine costs rm4.5k. It sounds expensive but you pay rm200 per month for two years. Mine took a short while, but some wear them for 3 years so that’ll only cost about rm100 a month.
For me, it was definitely worth all the trouble of food getting stuck in between braces, and explaining to little innocent children as to why you have metal on your teeth.
You’ll hear this alot. Beauty is pain, baybeh.
Take care. xoxo.

Update 2012: For those who are interested to know who's my brilliant dentist, it's Dr Tay Mok Seng. His clinic is Dr Chong & Rakan which is at Taman Segar, Cheras. Simply google to get his contact details. Peace out! Love xx 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

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