25th MARCH 07
My brother in KB laughed when I told him I was going for a Ahmad Jais concert. He warned me that AJ may single me in the crowd to come on stage. Why me? Firstly, I'm somewhere near AJ's era, plus or minus a few years. Secondly, he thought the crowd will be small and I'll stand out amongst the crowd. We laughed heartily together. But I have the last laugh! Firstly, AJ is not my era. He is 71 and I was just breaking my teens when he cut his firt album in 1961. And the crowd - a sell out for the entire 3 days of his live performance at Istana Budaya.
I bought the tickets for wifey and myself 2 weeks earlier, assuring us of good front seats. With 20% discount for senior citizens (tq), the tickets didn't burn a big hole in my retired pocket. Skeptical I was. Would Istana Budaya filled up for a 71 year old veteran singing all the lagu irama Melayu & Asli, and not for a 1 night stand but a 3-day affair?
A couple (Mohar and wife), seated for a quick dinner with us prior to the show, bought their tickets on the day of the show. They were lucky to get 2 seats, right on the top tier, probably furthest away from the stage! I know what Mohar will do for future concerts. The couples love concerts and theatres.
Anyway, skepticism aside, it was FULL. EVERYDAY, with repeat audience too! For me, it was the first time to hear and "sing" with him live.
I sang his numbers very often (I mean used to), mainly in toilets. The echo of the toilet enhances my vocal chords. Those day, we dont have echos from Karaoke sets to give us that "feel great" sound.
Dressed in his trademark white suit with matching white shoes, the first number Umpan Jinak Di Air Tenang was indeed the umpan (bait) for what's coming for the next 2 hours. Crowd response was spontaneous. If one studies the titles of his songs, it's almost all romanticism and frustrations in love. Good for the teenaged souls but not to be overdone. We had DiAmbang Sore, Kucupan Azimat, Berpisah Jauh, Menanti DiAmbang Syurga, Keciwa Juga Sudah Nya, his all time high note Gelisah and a sad Bunga Ku Puja Di Petik Orang.
Datuk Ahmad Jais' "must hear" songs were all there, accompanied by a 60-strong National Symphony Orchestra led by Mustafa Fuzer Nawi, an accomplished conductor. The veteran singer told the crowd he requested from the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee to re-record P. Ramlee's Azizah, a song from the film Penarek Beca. If P. Ramlee is still alive, he would have endorsed his approval many times over. AJ was just fantastic.
We had actor Zulkifli Zain and actress wife Normala seated besides us. They too were in their elements, applauding and at times singing along, just like I did, just like the majority of the crowd were doing.
The 60-piece National Symphony Orchestra led by Mustafa Fuzer Nawi provided the live-wire musical backing. S Atan and Pak Ngah did justice to their accordions with an intro for one of the songs. Saxophonist Razak Rahman too presented a number.
Haziq of the AF fame rendered Halimun Malam and sang it like a veteran. He also duet with AJ in a catchy Potong Padi. Accompanied by the Istana Budaya dancers, they brought us back to the kampong of yesteryears.
Datuk Yusni Hamid completed the invited singers. This evergreen lass (now 61) gave a number and later duet with AJ for Budi Setahun Segunung Bintang.
Present to give moral support were thePenyanyi 60an in the likes of A Rahman Hassan and wife Azizah, Andrew Goh the singing Baba from Malacca. From Singapore came Kasim of the La Obe fame and Zam Zam. There were also M Ishak, Adnan "something" and I believe Afida Es. These Penyayi 60 an were invited to the stage at the end of the show.
All in, it was time and money well spent. Accolades to Istana Budaya, a purpose built theatre and musical complex. I have since registered as a rakan Istana Budaya. With that, I expect to be advised through emails of future events and hoped to patronise some, if not all.