Reviews

Akim & The Majistret @ Dewan Filharmonik Petronas: An Awkward Pairing?

A grandiose stage was given to rock-and-roll sweetheart, Akim & The Majistret. A pairing destined for greatness, or an awkward coupling between orchestra and rock?

On the 20th of February, in the majestic Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS, the stage was once again adorned by music not actually characteristic of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra‘s usual repertoire.  The concert itself will be two years since Faizal Tahir captured the acoustics of the hall with his amazing pipes. As part of Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS‘s initiative in platforming the prowess of local talents, Akim and the Majistret joins the ranks of Yuna, Najwa, Aizat, Hafiz, Hujan and Dayang Nurfaizah. This pop-rock aficionado ensemble is led by Akim, who won third place in Akademi Fantasia back in 2009 and then later on, with his band, created megahits such as Mewangi and Potret.

All of that being said, it seems destined that two greats make a greater whole – so does the usual high energy that Akim and the Majistret carries to their performance work with the setting? Well, not exactly.

The most blatant deficiency is the drastic under-usage of the actual orchestra. Notwithstanding the strings instrumental that played in the intermission after 7 songs;  Akim and the Majistret fans who wanted to see some classic, baroque-style-with-a-modern-tinge to the songs from their favourite bands would be immensely disappointed. It is not exactly something that should be expected either, since past acts of the same ilk managed to utilize the assortment of strings normally found in the orchestra (e.g. Hujan, Dayang Nurfaizah).

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As a regular patron of the Dewan, it is also slightly irksome that the acoustics of the hall did not carry through. The piano was barely audible, thus rendering most of the songs performed partially incomplete.

The set starts of with a collection of pumped up songs that gets you in that spirited vibe, with tracks like Patriot and Terlalu Mudah. And just as you’re about to stand up and head-bang or groove to the music in one way or another, you realize that this is an orchestral hall; where seemingly ‘barbaric’ things like rocking your head back and forth to rhythm is deemed as inappropriate at such a venue. Apparently, someone thought that one should experience the choppy, fast and hard sounds of pop rock with the same stiff, introspective constitution (while being seated) that  one would display when listening to the likes of Tchaikovsky or Vivaldi. Killed the mood a bit, to say the least.

All was not bleak though. For starters, the medley that was played by the band on the stage was unforgettable; with Bunga Melur, Sejarah Mungkin Berulang, Penantian and Kamelia playing back-to-back in an impeccably smooth transition. The band’s interaction with the audience is good too, weaving that charismatic vibe Akim is known for at his concerts. Of course, there were still a few bad jokes here and there, but like music, comedy is subjective, and didn’t really disrupt the overall experience. The lighting for the entire event is phenomenal too, staying true to the Dewan Filharmonik Orkestra’s wonderful penchant for aesthetics on palatial scales.

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Although it is not without flaws, nowhere (and no one) should ever suggest for rock-and-roll bands or popular artistes to avoid from striding a stage such as this. To show off their virtuosity in a venue that seems like an unorthodox combination, since music and performance has always been about breaking barriers, and reaching bigger audiences. What’s important to take note, is that when marriages like this happen; ensuring that it does not spiral into disharmony is every bit as pertinent as actually giving deserved talent the stage.

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