by Nurul Azliah Aripin
Malaysian singer Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, better known as Yuna, effortlessly delivered a pleasing concert for her Singapore fans.
During her one-and-a-half hour performance at the Marina Bay Sands’ Mastercard Theatre on Wednesday (14 Oct), the singer kept her show decor minimal and the atmosphere intimate.
As much as the 28-year-old owner of lifestyle store November Culture loves home décor, there were no extravagant stage decorations, and no onstage theatrics a la Rihanna and the like.
Last night’s show, her fourth concert in Singapore, proved that her chic fashion style, carefree and down-to-earth self as well as her music, were enough to enthrall the close to 2,000 concert attendees.
Performing in Malay and English, the dreamy-voiced Yuna came onstage clad in a disco-inspired, bright and shimmery sequined getup, paired with a long navy vest, knee high boots and her signature headgear. She treated her “shy” and fairly rigid fans to a balanced string of groovy folk-pop and R&B numbers, taken from five of her albums (Yuna EP, Decorate, Terukir Di Bintang, Material and Nocturnal).
Backed by a five-piece band – two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer, the former law student’s set list of 15 songs started with an upbeat rendition of her first single, “Dan Sebenarnya”.
The fashion entrepreneur surprised the audience when she performed an unreleased ballad called “All I Do”, which she wrote with Canadian record producer David Foster. The track will be included in her upcoming album, due for release in 2016.
She has come a long way since publishing her songs on the once popular music and social site Myspace. Now based in Los Angeles, she began performing in Malaysia in 2006 before getting signed to the New York based Fader Label in 2011.
Her hit “Live Your Life” was produced by Grammy award-winner Pharrell Williams in 2012. She also performed on popular US television shows such as Last Call with Carson Daly and Conan.
Like many of Yuna’s performances, last night was like a pleasant evening walk in the park. Yuna looked calm and collected despite her hectic tour schedule – she was scheduled to leave for Malaysia, before heading to her US tour destinations, which include Washington DC and Brooklyn.
Despite constantly travelling between different continents, and immersing herself in different cultures, Yuna has remained true to her roots by continuing to produce and perform music in her mother tongue. She comes across as grounded, easy-going and confident in her Malay/Muslim identity - a role model that many younger Malay/Muslim women can identify with.
In many ways, she lives out the message she sings in “Live Your Life” and invites others to do the same.