AR Rahman's KL Concert: A Total Washout?

In all honesty, this was the worst concert experience in my life. Yes, the preceding sentence was carefully considered and chosen. It was a complete mess. So, what went wrong? Who is to be blamed?

The business of staging concerts is no piece of cake. It may seem pretty straightforward, but it definitely is not. One one hand, you need to ensure the quality of the entertainment. At the same time you need to ensure your ticket sales are going strong so that you don't end up closing shop after the event. Most importantly, you need to ensure that the consumer experience is not compromised. That experience begins the moment the consumer  purchases the ticket to the time he has left the venue premises after the concert.

Perhaps, lets start of with a  factual recount of the event. To begin with, let us first visualise the event setting. Below is the seating plan for your reference.

Venue - Seating Plan - Ticket Prices
From the above, you may have noticed that only the VVIP (1299 Ringgit) and VIP (999 Ringgit) category had allocated seating. Those seats consisted probably less than 10% of the total available seats. The rest were free seating. As such, you would naturally expect people to turn up early to get the best seats. I was there at 6.30pm for a concert that was slated to begin at 8pm and I felt that I was one of the later ones to get there. There was already quite a crowd building up.

You would have also realised that categories 4 and 5 were the only ones that were covered. They were part of the Grandstand section of the Merdeka Stadium. To make matters worse, it had already started to rain by the time I got to my seats. Imagine this, you now had 80 % of the seats, including the VVIP seats that were getting wet. 

Any organiser worth his salt would normally indicate if there was a restricted view of the entire stage. For this event,categories 4 and 6 would not have enjoyed a complete view because of the design of the stage and would have to rely on the 2 large screens that were mounted beside the stage. This was not disclosed in any of their marketing peripherals.

The Delay
This poster was released by the organisers on the day of the event. On hindsight, this poster is actually quite funny considering the long wait the people had for the event to start.

The concert started at 11pm. Yes, you heard me right. The irony is  that, at 6.30pm, when I got to Merdeka Stadium, a member of the organising crew told me that the concert will end by no later than 11pm.

Let's be honest. Mistakes do happen. In this case, it was how the organisers, Black Horse and SAC Group, handled the situation that made the night horrible. They had constructed a stage which was not completely sheltered. As such, half the stage was soaked. Rumour has it that water had entered some instruments, and they could not begin the show.

Instead of taking responsibility, they sent singers to apologise and pacify the crowd that was still getting drenched in the rain since 6.30pm.

After more than an hour of delay, Shakthishree Gopalan and Vijay Prakash appeared on stage briefly for the delay and informed us that the show will begin in ten minutes. That ten minutes became an hour and AR Rahman made an appearance to reassure the crowd. It was still raining. At about 10.30, when the crowd had become increasingly impatient and started chanting, asking for refunds, Shakthishree made a second appearance.

This time round, her words did not do much as the crowd continued to voice their disapproval. It was very clear that one of the organising crew by her side had asked her to sing a few lines and we had a few lines of a cappella rendition of  her hit song "Nenjukulle". That was enough to send the crowd cheering for a few seconds before we went to the activity of the day, WAITING.

Security Lapses and Unprofessional Crew

As the night progressed, some people seated in categories 6, 7 and 8 (109, 299 and 399) realised that there nothing preventing them for making their way to the central portion of the stadium and helped themselves to seats in the category 3 (699 ringgit) and the VIP sections.

Even the organising crew helped themselves to the seats. Some even brought chairs and created their own front row seats. There were others who took the chance to escape the rain and make themselves home in the covered seats. Clearly, many crew members decided to take a break and watch the concert as well. I even witnessed a crew member who decided to voluntarily end his shift to 'lepak' with his friends and watch the concert.

While the organisers had published a document about the rules which included that was to be no smoking at the event premises, this was not enforced. When the concert begin, I even had a crew member who decided to plonk himself next to me and lit a cigarette. 

There was no clear direction or announcements. There were rumours about a possible postponement when the concert finally begin. By that time, it was very obvious that some people had left. I was already at my wits end  waiting in the covered section. I cannot fathom the plight of those who were getting drenched in the rain for close to 5 hours.

The Music

Well, its A R Rahman, need we say more? However, this lacked the usual perfection that is expected from the Mozart of Madras. There were obvious mistakes in a few songs.  

The Sound system was clearly a problem. The music broke into the annoying high pitched audio feedback far too many times for a professional event. For one song, the microphone for the female vocalist seemed to be non existent. To top it off, the concert ended in a rather abrupt fashion after just 2 hours.  We barely heard from some of the singers.

There were flashes of brilliance but it was definitely not enough to salvage the night.

The Organiser

Black Horse Movie (M) Sdn  who claims to be  highly regarded in the special events industry are apparently continually creating, reinventing, and executing successful entertainment. From my observation, I am confident that the only thing they are good at is creating alternative realities. After hundreds of negative reviews and complaints, this is what they had to say.

Firstly,we are not idiots. The only party who would stand to lose from postponing the event would be the organisers themselves. They would need to pay extra in venue rental, set up costs, crew wages, accomodation for performers, transportation charges amongst many others. Yes, there would some who may not be able to make it for the alternative date and they should have been rightfully refunded. But, should the priority not to give the audience a quality show? 

After all this, the organisers seem more interested in praising themselves.

But, are the organisers really to be blamed? We gained sight of an alternative theory that was published on FB.

The lady happens to be the spouse of one of the organisers. So, perhaps, she may be privy to some inside information. 

So, what do you think, should the event organiser bear the full responsibility for a concert or should the entire team take the rap. It is no secret that the artistes get paid regardless of whether the event turns out to be a success. When a concert is a success, it is the artiste that usually gets the credit and praise. Why should it be otherwise, when the concert fails? Think about it.

Just make sure you do not make the mistake of attending another Black Horse Event.

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