Siti displays true star power in LondonBy CHOI TUCK WO
Siti Nurhaliza took London by storm with a dazzling performance at the Royal Albert Hall last Friday. The pop diva was in her element as she captivated the 2,500 near-capacity crowd with her charm and ethereal voice during the two-hour concert. Considering that the singing sensation had just recovered from a sore throat, the 120 minutes of solid performance spoke volumes of her extraordinary talent.
No wonder Siti has been nicknamed the “Celine Dion of Malaysia” by no less than three BBC radio stations for her powerful voice. The pop princess effectively combined the fiery vocals of Celine with the stunning elegance and beauty of lyric phrasing of Saloma, yet another Malaysian legend.
Crooning effortlessly, the 26-year-old Kuala Lipis lass endeared herself to her fans with her gorgeous melodic style. Despite it being her debut performance at the prestigious venue, Siti displayed immense maturity.
The promotional posters’ depiction of her as Asia’s best-kept secret hardly did justice to her singing prowess judging from the successful performance. Immediately after the concert, Siti was sounded out for a special return concert, as well as a possible appearance at a United Nations-sponsored show in the UK.
The speed with which concert promoters have recognised Siti’s amazing talent is quite stunning. As Royal Albert Hall chief executive David Elliott puts it: “Siti is an extraordinary talent. She has a great voice and good rapport with the audience.”
Elliott, who watched the concert right through to the end, noted that some performers might have fantastic voices but lacked stage presentation.
“Siti has both. She is very relaxed,” he said, adding, however, that the singer should do more cover albums to cater to an international audience.
After all, her rendition of British singer Oleta Adam’s hit song Get Here – the only English song out of her repertoire of over 22 Bahasa Malaysia numbers for the London show – received thunderous applause all round.
Ably supported by the 34-member London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Erwin Gutawa, Siti’s rich vocals reverberated throughout the 134-year-old hall. With a voice as mesmerising as her beauty, the audience was captivated by her natural demure and courtly moves on stage.
One moment, she would be crooning melodramatic love songs with spellbinding effect; the next she would be grooving to non-stop up-tempo joget medley hits.
Gazing down at her shoes, she smiled politely and thanked Datuk Jimmy Choo (“for my shoes”) and then pointed to her jewellery saying “and Habib Jewellers too”.
Not only did Siti sing from her heart, she also displayed excellent rapport with her fans, who were lapping up all she could offer.
There was one poignant moment when she dedicated a song Percayalah which she wrote and composed herself especially for her fans.
“Many of you have sacrificed a lot to come to London to watch my concert. Some have pecahkan (broken) their savings boxes or saved for a long time to come here. I thank you with all my heart,” she said.
Clad in a white shimmering gown, Siti started off the night with her vocals alone filling the hall with her popular hit Dialah Di Hati. After an initial silence, the fans began to warm up to the singer’s brand of eclectic but distinctly unique music.
During the first segment, the fans were treated to a medley of joget as well as top hits such as Cindai, Mahligei Permata and Ya Manlai. The ease with which she switched from slow to hot numbers such as Ku Milik Mu, Cinta Tak Berganti and Debaran Cinta had the fans clamouring for more.
Siti kicked off the second part of the show with Zapin Budi accompanied by a traditional music group under Pak Ngah Suhaimi, followed by favourites such as Nirmala and a folk medley.
After a 20-minute break, the 34-member London Symphony Orchestra struck up several popular Malay hits. Sixteen dancers from Yayasan Warisan Johor put up a spirited performance, adding a touch of glamour to the proceedings.
Chants of “Encore” and “We Want More” were heard from the crowd as Siti belted her last song Seindah Biasa. This prompted her to return and deliver a slow medley before rounding off the night with Cindai.
It was certainly a night that all Malaysians can be proud off – thanks to Malaysia’s singing envoy. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak aptly described Siti as “the country’s national treasure” when he urged Malaysian students to attend her concert during a visit to Manchester recently.
Judging from the thunderous applause from the audience, which included the Sultan and Sultanah of Pahang, Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and 27 members of the Brunei royal family, it’s obvious that Siti is poised for greater success.