Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sorry Miss Houston... are you for real?

Ok so where do I start. Erm... this entry will be done bilingual as usual. But because I know a lot of fans abroad will want to know how Whitney Houston's comeback was, I'm going to review her show predominantly in English.

So after a decent start, with a great opening to the night show by the M8 (with Nikki easily kicking some major butt for the opening and closing before Shaggy came on), the energy was at an all time high, throughout the whole Live & Loud 07 music festival.

Shaggy burned up the stage. I know some people say he's so over and done with, with his last hit being eons ago, but he did pretty well.

Perhaps an indicator of my age, I actually found out I knew most of the songs. Not the crappy later stuff like It Wasn't Me (though I liked the Bill Clinton impersonation mid-way), but more of his classic stuff like Oh Carolina.

By the time it came to Whitney Houston, THE greatest voice of all time - and my number one diva to come onstage... you knew, that something was going wrong big time.

First of all - for some freaking reason - they had to take about an hour to do a sound check on stage. Talk about being unprepared! And this is Whitney's crew we're talking about.

Apparently, word is from insiders, that Whitney's team had f**ked up big time. The sound settings, which they had saved during rehearsal were lost! Someone on her team, FORGOT (crap excuse!) to save the settings on his thumb drive!

By the time they got things going - the crowd had swelled to over 10,000 and counting. People kept streaming in. It was obvious people had come to see only one person. Whitney Houston.

And she was the focus of Live & Loud 07. After all, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had been chosen as THE spot for her comeback concert. For any true blue Whitney fan - this was a historic moment!
For me, it was momentous of course. I mean, placing Madonna, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston as my 'must sees' before I kick the bucket, this was striking one off the list, and closer to the big concert in the sky.

Then... it happened.

First came the repeated announcements.

No taking pictures, or recording the event - or your cameras will be confiscated. Not too unusual. However, strangely enough, this also applied to the media.

NO ONE was allowed to have any recordings, in any form, still or otherwise of Whitney on her comeback. Strange isn't it.

If that wasn't enough, prior announcements were mae by the organiser, that Whitney's contractual agreement extended to her party insisting NO MEDIA COVERAGE whatsoever of the event.

Not even her arrival could be photographed. What the....???!!! As a member of the media, I'm pissed. But as a fan, I am disappointed that my diva could have refused her fans in such a manner to welcome her. It was after all her first time in Malaysia.

Consider the fact that she had stayed in her car, somewhere in the backstage area (spotted her but couldn't approach for the sheer volume of the security - and I have backstage access!!!) until it was almost her turn - Whitney almost came across eccentric.

When she finally took to the stage, my jaw just dropped as the band blared out an energetic version of If I Told You That..

She was wearing this glittery midriff baring top, with pants and a silver trench coat or something. She looked amazing - except for the rounded paunch hanging out! Is she really three months pregnant as rumoured???

It was forgiveable - she mumbled the words, and occasional practically shouted, if she didn't whisper the words. No real singing involved

The crowd was supportive - no doubt. I didn't want to believe she was going on as she was too. She did this back to back snippet of Saving All My Love For You and Greatest Love Of All, where it was obvious, she didn't have the stamina to even sing. In fact, I would say, judging from that - Whitney was rolling on half a tank of fuel, as opposed to the performances expected of her.
Shoop was relaxed, and it didn't her, but the high bits were painful... too painful to hear. When she launched into Heartbreak Hotel, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Here was my diva - I'm watching her live performances on recordings after all these years, and yet, here she was, not even a pale shadow of what she used to be.

It's so frustrating! Mariah Carey never was on my list of divas, cause I think she's just too tarty, as opposed to Whitney, who's just spilling over with soul and emotion in her every song. I've seen Mariah live twice, once in Kuala Lumpur, and once more in Jakarta. And she blew me away (even though I still am disgusted by her placing more importance on her twins popping out and her need to be 'in' with her faux hip-hop fusion).

But I have to say, while in comparison, Mariah was a 7 1/2 for her overall rating for her concert. Whitney was a mere 4, and that taking into account the saving grace of every song, which everyone loves and knows the words to.

How is she going to launch her comeback when the last concerts I was at, in Christina Aguilera and Beyonce, absolutely stunned me, not just for the visual quality, but also their amazing vocals?

If anything - Whitney appeared, not as embarrasing - but close to the Britney Spears horror that was Give Me More where she was ditzy and flabby and so bloody disoriented.
I know Whitney's been down a rough road the past few years, and she really is working hard at it - but after a year, her performance is disappointing.

When she sang It's Not Right But It's Ok, she sounded more closer to a croak, and something you would never have expected to happen, did! People started walking out!

As she got into Step By Step - anyone who was left of the crowd that had halved, got onto their feet to dance. The music drowned out her vocals, and for My Love Is Your Love, her backing vocals overpowered her enough to make it glaringly obvious that she had better back-ups that were able to patch up her flaws.

If anything else, My Love Is Your Love was a little special because she brought her 'daughter' onstage to sing with her.

Oh my God! Is that really Bobbi Kristina? Remember the last pictures I saw of her where she was a toddler. Man has she grown! It was a sweet moment, and it was easy to disregard Whitney still trying to sing.

Now - all this while, everyone noticed on thing. The house mix was horrendous! Her vocals sounded bloody dry and coarse. Whitney's entourage of 35 people, which included her own sound engineers must have been napping. After the mess up with the settings, her sound engineer flubbed up the settings and there was ZERO reverb!!!

She had backing music of concert proportions - and the vocal quality of singing in a small closet, no thanks to the f**k up by her team AGAIN!!!

It was a much needed breather when (step?) brother Gary Houston came on to perform a soothing version of Change The World though I understood how most people there felt as they walked out of the venue disappointed. Many didn't bother to wait for the rest of the show.

Whitney came back again - in a purple dress (lavender?) that betrayed the bulge more. Ok... there has to be some merit in that pregnancy rumour!

She sang I Wanna Dance With Somebody and How Will I Know, before she slowed it down to I Go To The Rock.

When it came to I Will Always Love You - I just sat down. I mean, I watched The Bodyguard SEVEN times in the cinema (I would never admit that to anyone, but now you know) and loved every song in it, and I always imagined hearing it live. Apparently, my imagination was better than Whitney's singing.

Anyway, reverb still non existent - but for some bloody reason they turned up the delay, and her voice was echoing thoughout the song for the layers. Bad karaoke effect alert!

She disappeared to the back of the stage, and the crowd began leaving, to my horror! I had the song list of what she was performing - and I knew she was going to perform I'm Every Woman - but not only did no one call for an encore, instead of chanting 'We Want More!', people began leaving chating 'Please No More!'. Ouch!

When she did come out with I'm Every Woman, it was a souped up version that was the real highlight of her performance. Sadly enough, to the just over thousand or two that stayed to the end, it was obviously a little to late.

For those who read that she was going to preview several songs from her upcoming album - no, she didn't.

In fact, her set didn't include so many things. Missing were my faves in One Moment In Time, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Didn't We Almost Have It All, Run To You and I Have Nothing (which would have been ironic) and especially On My Own, which has been THE song that has served as my sole inspiration through the darkest hours when I needed strength, something to pull me through.

No, I am not a Whitney basher, as I know I will be crucified for being fr this review. I just do not want to have my memories of Whitney tarnished. She has, and always will be a diva, forever and ever. And I will buy her album when it comes out - irregardless of whether she releases singles or not, or they hit the top of the Billboard charts or not.

But honestly - I want Whitney to stop. I'd rather see her make her exit at her prime, despite wanting to hear her, rather than go up in flames for the nasty reviews and horrible critique awaiting when she goes live with that sort of performance States' side.

Still, I suppose yoo could sing, 'I believe in miraaaaaaaaclllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssss' and hope for the best.

Miss Whitney, even though you're not reading this, I wish you all the best and much love for what you've given to me, a humble fan awed at your voice all these years, and I pray that you will come back bigger and better than ever.

People around will probably tell you things you want to hear, but I hope you realise the concert in Malaysia was HORRIBLE! It would have to be for people to walk out midway.
Whatever it is, all the best.

To Whitney fans around the world, note again, I am not hating on Whitney! And if you think I am, then you are not a real fan, as if you were, you would expect nothing less than the best of her, and not want to see her in this state for the world to bash.

If you think this review is crap, my bad for thinking you want to know the truth.
For those who want to read another review of Whitney's show, CLICK HERE for MrManager's review and pictures.

Moving on... (taking a Kleenex out to wipe a distressed tear - shyeah right!), the night was fun, even if my hopes of seeing Whitney blast her vocal pipes didn't materialise.

Had massive fun. Helped Nikki out with the gang involved, before we sat down for the show. It was stressful especially since seeing her get on the hydraulic platform that elevated her high above the main stage. Couldn't imagine if they had gone through the plan for her to fly down from the top of the humongous stage as planned, before it was called off the day before the concert for fear of rain and heavy wind.

The party for me began with Shaggy's show, because that's when I got to bugger off the backstage area and be one of the crowd. Best siot! Aku naik gila nari jer...mesti ada orang ingat aku stone Vanilla Coke.

Ni ada beberapa gambar sempat aku amik. Sorry guys... no better pics. You know my mobile phone sucks. Time to get a new phone (Hurry up with the second generaton of iPhone already!)

The M8 artists huddling in a briefing befor the start of the show.

Nikki, going up on stage, via the hydraulic elevated platform.

The crowd which I think was way above 10,000. Definitely more! This shot was taken on stage.

Anuar Zain was one of the M8

The M8 on the stage runway. I was bored onstage, so I took this piccy.

The M8 from left - Lah, Mode, Noryn Aziz, Azan, Nikki, Anuar Zain, Sufiah Noor, Jaclyn Victor. Down in front is me mate Reymee, the head honcho of Live & Loud 07

Blurry pic, but awesome stage, lighting and sound!

Me with my gal MTV VJ, Fazura. Pose maut sampai aku rasa nak muntah! Heh!!! Jangan marah babe! Also with Asyraf, anak Datuk Seri Khalid Mohd Jiwa.

With by big sister, Nasha, my favourite model anyday!

Awas! Ini bukan perhimpunan HINDRAF! Ini orang balik sebab Whitney hancus.

Kalau lain kali da parking berbatu jauh, tengah tengah jalan, kuar la awal.Orang lain da belah keta ko tengah jalan. Apa daaaa!!!!

All in all, it was a fun night, though sadly not because of Whitney as I hoped for. Apapon, had fun, even though beat as hell. Came home to find Streamyx f**ked up again, so my Internet connection comes and goes. Sorry if my postings come out late until this problem is sorted out.

Until then... cheers, people!