In its latest rockestra, the MPO performed alongside 3 Malaysian rock stars — Hattan, Hazama and Azlan — in a special ‘Rock Tri-O’ concert
By AZALEA AZUAR
THE Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) is no stranger to performing rock-themed concerts, having debuted its “rockestra” gig in 2013 when it paid tribute to icons such as Led Zeppelin and rocked along legends like Ella.
In its latest rockestra, the MPO performed alongside three Malaysian rock stars — Datuk Mohd Shukri “Hattan” Shahabudin, Hazama Ahmad Azmi and Nor Azlan Rosle from Azlan & The Typewriter band — in a special “Rock Tri-O” concert.
The concert was held from Nov 16-17 and lasted about 2½ hours each night in the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), the MPO’s mothership.
“Rock Tri-O” kicked off with a magnificent overture led by the Penangite and Berklee alumni Ahmad Muriz Che Rose. The songs in the overture consisted of “Kamelia”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rock Like a Hurricane”.
Rock veteran Hattan felt that performing together with an orchestra was like an otherworld experience and boy, he was right! The presence of the MPO and the unique symphonic arrangements enabled one to connect to the music unlike any studio recordings.
There were times when one felt like being on an adventure, and times when one can deeply feel the melancholia of a song.
Azlan: The Energetic Rocker
Azlan was the first among the trio to rock out.
He came onstage blending with the orchestra, in a suit complete with a red bow tie. Yet, he reminded the audience that he was first and foremost a rock star with his black-studded platform shoes and sunglasses. Azlan had indeed suited up for a rockestra!
His first “Tiada Lagi Kidungmu” was added with a sentimental and dramatic touch.
The song was originally performed by Lefthanded and was released in their debut album “Keadlian” back in 1986.
Azlan also performed his own version of “Stairway to Heaven” with the accompanying stage lights that seemed to be doing their own interpretation to the classic masterpiece.
The white-coloured spotlight shone through the mist, giving off a mysterious but serene feeling.
“And she’s buying the stairway to heaven!” Azlan concluded the song with his trademark highpitched husky scream.
Members of the audience were looking forward for his take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and this time, he allowed the audience to join in by singing the “Hello!” part.
Azlan may have started off with the rock genre, but he has moved on to exploring Malay ballads.
However, he still maintains his high-pitched hoarse screams like the rock star that he was born to be.
He also maintained his youthful and energetic presence throughout the show.
Hazama Apologised for Sounding Javanese
The Akademi Fantasia Season 9’s winner, Hazama brought in his strong melodic vocals to the show.
Wearing a unique half-black, protest song about the Troubles, a conflict which occurred in Northern Ireland.
With Hazama’s sentimental vocals and the distinctive sound of the violins, the song became sadder and deeper than the original.
The slow rhythm picked up speed as the orchestra entered 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On?” Hazama, who is also a “Sweet Charity” fan, made a tribute to the Singaporean band by performing a medley of their songs.
The songs were “Sejuta Wajah”, “Hilang Gelap Terbitlah Terang” and “Kamelia”.
Hazama admitted that he had never won any awards in the music industry, but performing at the DFP felt like some kind of a huge win.
Throughout the show, he constantly thanked the audience, the MPO and Petronas for the opportunity.
Hattan, the Proud ‘Negori’
Being an old-timer in the Malaysian music industry, Hattan had such a cool and charismatic stage presence.
Among the three, he interacted the most with the audience.
For “Rendang Tak Berbuah”, he wanted the audience to sing before the orchestra started playing its part.
The proud musician from Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan, would speak in the “Negori” dialect wherever he goes and ask concert audiences if anyone hailed from the same state.
Hattan’s song, “Biso Bonar” pays tribute to his roots as it is sung in the local dialect.
The song was composed with rock and psychedelic influences.
However, for “Rock Tri-O”, the arrangements felt livelier. While the orchestra made the song more exciting, the green and yellow stage lights made the performance stay true to its psychedelic elements.
Hattan is also known for giving cover songs his own twist which he did at the concert with Alleycats’ “Sekuntum Mawar Merah”.
For this concert, he changed the lyrics of his song “Gerhana”.
Instead of singing “Gerhana Dalam Jiwaku”, Hattan cleverly sang “Petronas Dalam Jiwaku”.
A Humorous Trio and an Awesome Medley
The three were having a laugh before the medley, with Azlan jokingly asked Hattan what happened to his long hair, to which he replied that he had a “helipad” lineage.
Hattan also poked fun at Hazama’s bicoloured suit.
The medley kicked off with that trademark guitar riffs of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and went into an orchestral arrangement of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” although the dominant part remained to be the heavy bass and guitars, which were what made the song popular.
Hazama, with his vocal ability, sang identically to the original singer. His duplicating of original singers’ vocals were since his Akademi Fantasia days where fans would remember his cover of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister”.
Now, he managed to sing almost like AC/DC’s third lead vocalist Brian Johnson.
Initially, Azlan was afraid to perform “Back to Black”, but with his high-pitched scream and husky voice, he definitely nailed it.
The medley concluded with the much anticipated “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
The trio evidently had a blast performing the rock classics while the audience, however, was unhappy, because the show had ended too soon.
To cheer them up, the trio decided to treat the audience with an encore medley of “Fantasia Bulan Madu”, “Bi ru Mata Hitamku”, “Sentuhan Kecundang” and “Pawana”.
It was a great night which the fans wouldn’t mind having repeated in the future.