Rain-soaked night with AR Rahman

Rahman (left) keeps audience spellbound with a myriad of entertainment.
Rahman (left) keeps audience spellbound with a myriad of entertainment.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Thousands of AR Rahman fans waited in the pouring rain at Merdeka Stadium on Saturday for his highly-anticipated concert to start. 

The AR Rahman Live in Concert which had been scheduled to start at 8pm was delayed by close to three hours and left fans, regardless of whether they had raincoats, umbrellas or plastic bags meant to cover VIP chairs, soaked. 

It was even worse for those who bought free seating tickets and were in the stadium from as early as 3pm in hopes of securing the best seats.

There was also no easy access to lavatories or refreshments. The stage was covered in rain water and equipments were protected with tarpaulin and plastic sheets. 

Their patience was further tested when first-time concert organisers Black Horse Movie (M) Sdn Bhd failed to make any announcement for the delay throughout the night. 

Irate fans took to social media to complain about the lack of information and an apology posted by the organiser was bombarded with criticism over their handling of the delay. 

At 8.15pm, the Mozart of Madras, as Rahman is known, was heard thanking fans for coming, adding his signature phrase: Ellam pughazhum iraivanukke (All glory to God).

Fifteen minutes later, he tweeted: “Thank you for your patience KL… It’s going to be an awesome show because of your unconditional love, God bless, be safe!”

At 9pm, singers Vijay Prakash and Shakthishree Gopalan came on stage and said they were excited to be in Malaysia and were looking forward to starting the show in 30 minutes.

The fans cheered them on and continued waiting. 

Amidst this, the fans were privy to the première of Rahman’s official music video Ginga from his latest biopic Pele: Birth of a Legend, dedicated to the Brazilian football legend.  

Clips from upcoming movies Kabali and local flavour Mayangaathey were also aired sporadically. 

However, by 10.30pm, the crowd finally began to lose their patience and started chanting “refund”, “cepat lah” and “we want Rahman”. 

Every time the chants started, they were drowned out by audio tracks and video reruns. Many simply gave up the waiting game and left the stadium. 

Shakthishree came out the second time to thank fans for staying on and even sang a few lines to calm them down. 

Their patience was finally rewarded when Rahman came on stage at 10.50pm. The Oscar-winning performer, who has just been named India’s fourth Goodwill Ambassador for Rio Olympics, with his team of world class performers presented a mesmerising two-hour concert.

After the show, student Shafiq Sharif, 21, said he felt short-changed as they were promised a three-hour concert.

“There should have been more songs by the legend himself, especially after waiting in the rain for so many hours,” he said.

Raghu Thiyagarajan, posted on the event’s Facebook page: “ARR, singers and the crew did extremely well despite the incompetence of Black Horse Movie (M) Sdn Bhd!!! For all those who are not satisfied with the services provided by karuppu kuthirai (black horse), kindly lodge an official complaint at National Consumer Complaints Centre, rather than the normal habits of complaining on social media. I did my part already www.nccc.org.my/v2/index.php/home.

Thayalan Thuraisingam posted: “I saw the mop fella more than ARR.”

The last time music enthusiasts were caught in a rainy international act at this stadium was during Mariah Carey Live in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, which was delayed by 75 minutes. 

The plus side to Saturday’s event was the sitting area on the field had non-slip tiles, unlike Carey’s show.