IT WAS indeed a concert to remember. That is the best way to describe the performance Datuk Siti Nurhaliza delivered at Kuala Lumpur’s Stadium Negara last Saturday with her two-hour concert entitled Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Friends. However, things started off on a worrying note. For an artiste of Siti’s reputation and renown, the opening act was tame, lame and dull. The concert kicked off with a young girl dancing confusingly onstage. The dancer was supposed to represent Siti as a young girl who dreamt of becoming an entertainer. However, I think the concept didn’t work out as intended. Instead of enchanting everyone, this act made the crowd restless. We couldn’t wait for the dancing to stop and the music to begin. Thankfully, Siti soon appeared and saved the day, with her opening song Aku Cinta Padamu. From that point on, the concert was a rollercoaster ride of pure entertainment, as the singer had the crowd of over 7,000 eating out of the palm of her hand. Siti performed more than 20 songs, in celebration of her 20 years in the music industry. She also invited well known singers from both Malaysia and Indonesia to join her on stage for some memorable duets. Many of her fans were waiting anxiously for her collaboration with Anggun, the renowned Paris-based Indonesian singer. Anggun had flown in to Kuala Lumpur just hours before the concert. Hence, they barely had any time for rehearsals. Yet, they managed to give a remarkable performance. Their first duet was on Anggun’s iconic hit, Snow on the Sahara. Then, they sung one of Siti’s popular songs, Bukan Cinta Biasa, which had the crowd cheering wildly and enthusiastically. Sometimes, when you have a duet with two skilled singers, things can go terribly wrong. They may try to upstage one other. Thankfully, that did not happen here. Anggun and Siti complemented each other perfectly. It was just two good friends having a good time on stage. At an earlier press conference, Anggun told the media that she was glad to be a part of the concert. “I am here because I am her fan and her friend,” she said. Besides inviting some of the region’s most talented singers to join her on stage, Siti also proved her mastery in creating a spectacular show. She performed her first set of songs unplugged, then brought on a live band to accompany her for her next set, and then finished the final half of the show backed up by a full orchestra. For me personally, the best duet of the night was when Siti sang her hit Biarlah Rahsia with Indonesian singer Afghan. The combination of his raspy voice and her powerful vocals provided a unique and interesting flavour for the evening. The other memorable duet was when Siti performed her other hit, Bagaikan Sakti with singer-songwriter Faizal Tahir. She sang the original version of the song with the legendary M Nasir. Here, Faizal managed to put his own personality into the song. The other singers who participated in Siti’s concert included local artistes Joe Flizzow, SonaOne, Hafiz Suip, and Jacyln Victor, as well as Cakra Khan from Indonesia. During Siti’s costume changes, the large screen in the stadium would show pre-recorded interviews of Siti’s family, friends, work colleagues, and teachers sharing personal stories about her. The best moment came courtesy of her mother Siti Salmah Bachik, who sportingly hummed the tune of her daughter’s first hit, Cindai. One of the highlights of the night was when Siti fulfilled her dream of performing with the late Whitney Houston, singing a duet on one of Houston’s unreleased songs, Memories. Houston’s image appeared on the screen, and her pre-recorded vocals merged with Siti’s live singing. Adam Kidron, CEO of Yonder Music, the organiser for Siti’s concert, later said: “When I met Siti, I asked who were her favourite singers. She cited P. Ramlee, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Then, I remembered [Memories which] was never featured in any of her albums.” Siti was extremely happy and grateful that her concert went smoothly. “Tonight, I can sleep with a smile,” she said. No doubt, most of her die-hard fans at the concert went to bed with smiles on their faces, too.