By Eddino Abdul Hadi
The Straits Times Communities
Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza's concert last Saturday at the Star Theatre shows why she is still one of the marquee names in the regional Malay music industry close to two decades since she made her debut in the music business. The 35-year-old is one star who truly reaches out to her fans.
At her first major solo concert in Singapore in six years, the singer with the soaring, mellifluous voice went down into the crowd no fewer than four times.
Her rendition of one of her signature tunes, Cindai, was performed almost entirely in the middle of the audience, who created a near ruckus as many literally ran from their seats to get close to their idol.
Siti gamely posed for countless selfies with fans while singing among them, despite security staff's best efforts to prevent fans from taking pictures or recording the show on their mobile phones.
At one point, she even went to a wheelchair-bound fan to hand her flowers and chocolates and to thank her for attending the show.
Her two-hour performance, preceded by local newcomer Farisha Ishak's brief opening set, was clearly designed for the fans in Singapore.
As she promised in a recent interview with Life!, a whole segment of the show was dedicated to her favourite tunes from veteran Singapore acts. She told the crowd how she grew up listening to Singaporean singer Rahimah Rahim, seated in the front row, next to another local singing legend, Nona Asiah.
Besides Rahimah's Gadis Dan Bunga (Ladies And Flowers), Siti also tackled upbeat interpretations of other tunes by Singapore acts such as Sweet Charity's Kamelia and Black Dog Bone's Gadis Ayu (Beautiful Lady).
When she brought Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah on stage, she almost brought the house down.
Many fans got on their feet to dance and cheer wildly when the pair dueted on Ramli Sarip and Khadijah Ibrahim's Doa Buat Kekasih (Prayers For A Lover) and Black Dog Bone's Khayalan (Fantasy).
The 4,000-strong audience, as Siti pointed out, included not just her husband, known affectionately as Datuk K, but also Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong and Malaysia's High Commissioner to Singapore, Dato' Husni Zai Yaacob.
The wide range of her music was on show, as she performed dressed in three vamped-up and modern versions of the Malay baju kurung and hijab combo.
Show openers Jika Kau Tak Datang (If You Don't Come) and Siti Situ Sana Sini (Here And There Siti) were buoyant funk-pop numbers with the singer showing off synchronised dance moves with her sextet of dancers, while Joget Kasih Tak Sudah (Endless Love Dance) and Joget Joget Senyum Memikat (Charming Smile Dance) were traditional Malay joget, or dance, tunes.
Siti the torch singer was on full display in tunes such as Terbaik Bagimu (The Best For You), a new song from an upcoming album that she sang for the first time, and Kesilapanku Keegoanmu (My Mistake, Your Ego).
The singer's problem at this concert was that she had too many hits which she tried to cram into heavily saturated segments, dragging down the show at times.
Some of her best-known tunes, such as Bukan Cinta Biasa (No Ordinary Love) and Jerat Percintaan (Love Trap), were hacked down to just their choruses, just so that she could merge them all into medleys.
The setlist could have been edited better to have these songs either played in their entirety or left out altogether - and the fans would still love her.