Posted: 13 Apr 2014 06:00 PM PDT
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I had taken over United Kingdom's hospitality for over a month and during that period I attended a handful of concerts with one of them being Yuna's. I know most of you are thinking, "She went all the way to UK to see a Malaysian artist perform?" Right you are. I was more curious to observe the culture of a show hosted by a Malaysian artist than seeing her perform because I have obviously seen her in KL — what blasphemy it would be if I had not.
On my way to Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for Yuna's show, I had already made up several expectations of what the show would be like; I would see only (if not, mostly) Malaysians at the show but not because I thought Yuna didn't appeal to English people, it's just Malaysians have a tendency to support anything Malaysian 200% more than they do when they're overseas – especially if it's someone that's popular on a global scale.
We arrive an hour before the doors opened, only we did not see any doors leading to any ballrooms – simply because it would be held in one in KL. However, there was a drawing on a blackboard at the bar that read 'Yuna – Sold Out Show Outside' – our very confused facial expressions caught a very helpful doorman's attention who pointed us to the right direction, and that's where we saw them- the hijabsters. There were so many of them; they could have seriously formed their own extremely fashionable army – I felt underdress in my maxi dress. I felt like I was back in KL with all the Malaysians staring at one another, looking like they wanted to start a conversation but were too shy to do it — and of course, the conversations were in Bahasa Malaysia.
We had been queuing for just a few minutes, and the number of people kept growing. There were only two people looking after the door and I wondered how fast it would take for them to process our tickets but it was rather quick; one checked and the other stamped — quite like getting access to a nightclub because that's where the show was — in an underground bar. We had walked down these stairs which reminded me of Batu Caves because it felt like they were not going to end of the dimly lit tavern. It was an intimate show, so about 150 people were present, and as I scoured the room I realised that there were more Europeans present than Malaysians. Surprise, surprise!
Yuna's opening act, Kelvin Jones, charmed the crowd with a mix of covers and original songs – his originals were rather depressing, but he expressed that it was not intentional. If you've had your heart broken, or experienced unrequited love, his songs will be most relatable or if you'd like to listen to someone with Jazz-esque vocals, check him out. He also happened to be a fan of Yuna and was thrilled to open for her, you could tell by the wide smile he had plastered on his face when he was talking about her.
At 9pm, Yuna graced the stage and mesmerised everyone for over an hour with 16 songs comprising of "Coffee", "Falling", "Mountains", "Lullabies", "Lelaki" with AG Coco of Hujan, "Decorate" and crowd favorites, "I Wanna Go" and "Rescue" were among the few she performed. She was flawless – it was as if I was listening to her CD throughout the night. Yuna interacted with the audience every chance she had by emphasizing on how thankful and surreal it was for her to be touring Europe and England.
After attending a number of gigs in KL, the one thing I dislike is our shit sound system. The venue was about the size of KL Live, and I panicked, "Is there going to be noise and distortions throughout the night? Will the people standing at the back be able to hear?" But the sound system was faultless. It was perfect no matter where you stood and most importantly, no noise. Thank you, Universe.
What I noticed, aside from everyone's continuous support for Yuna, was that certain people behaved as if she owed them something just because they came from the same country. I was fortunate to have met her after the show with a few others and one fan thought it would be appropriate to conduct an impromptu interview with her minutes after she mentioned that she was feeling ill. After the show, the few people that met her complained that she was sombong. Even during the show there were individuals that were making jokes about her music while she performed. I was also quite curious if they attended the show because they were fans or because of where she came from? Whatever it was, there were more good than bad.
Overall, Yuna performed a great set, and there were no signs of her being sick, so an extra 100 points to her! The crowd was more reserved than the ones back home, only because I think there were more Europeans, so there was less of the 'She is our nation's pride!' vibe around – and there were more dancing there than back home. I still don't understand why people are shy to dance – the world is your dancefloor!
Text & Photos: Rathika Sheila
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