[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’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!
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.
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:
And a video snippet of Maher Zain performing Freedom: