Back to boyband roots in high-octane show

KRU's (from far left) Norman, Yusry and Edry pleasing the crowd with old hits or by laughing at themselves.
KRU's (from far left) Norman, Yusry and Edry pleasing the crowd with old hits or by laughing at themselves.PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

The three brothers who make up pop group KRU have become savvy businessmen whose Malaysian entertainment empire encompass hit movies, popular artists and even animation schools - all without losing their touch as entertainers.

Their Esplanade gig, one of the marquee attractions of Malay arts festival Pesta Raya, is the first in their planned series of gigs to mark their 25th anniversary as a group - and Norman, 46, Yusry, 43, and Edry, 40, gleefully reached back to their boyband roots for the occasion.

While they performed more recent singles, such as this year's Hingga Ke Jannah, the two-hour show was the equivalent of a "best of" compilation album, with plenty of Malay radio hits in their discography spanning genres such as funk-pop, R&B and hip-hop.

The crowd, many in their 30s, went wild for Awas! (1994), Ooh! La! La! (1996) and Mengerti (1993), hook-laden, chorus-centred songs that took them back two decades.

Backed by a live band, they showed they could still do triple harmonies, not to mention pull off some of the cheesy synchronised dance moves that were all the rage back in the early 1990s.

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  • PESTA RAYA - MALAY FESTIVAL OF ARTS KRU 25

    Esplanade Concert Hall

    Last Saturday

These moves were few and far between, though - the brothers let their posse of six hip-hop dancers do most of the heavy-lifting.

What was most striking was how at ease they seemed to be on stage, despite not performing live as much as they used to, much less put on a full-length, high-octane pop show.

Edry, the youngest, was the most jovial; oldest brother Norman self-assured; and Yusry the smoothest when it came to singing.

More retro cheese came in the form of video montages that reminded the audience how much, stylistically, at least, they have changed over the years.

The old haircuts and questionable choices of attire from back in the day are thankfully gone. The costume changes at the Esplanade were a lot more age-appropriate, from all-white three-piece suits to black-jacket and jeans ensembles.

At one point, they came out in denim attire, explaining that it was a dig at the arcane rules that used to govern Malaysian television appearances in the past, when even wearing blue jeans was considered "inappropriate".

Whether they were performing old hits or laughing at themselves, crowd-pleasing stunts were the order of the night, including one segment where one of their masked dancers was revealed to be Yusry's wife, popular actress Lisa Surihani.

In another, they invited six fans on stage to sing the "I love you" chorus in Tiga Kata (2013) in different languages ranging from Korean to Tamil.

It was all uplifting cheese.

They did not take themselves too seriously and, as far as ageing boybands go, KRU still have what it takes to put on a merry show.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2016, with the headline 'Back to boyband roots in high-octane show'. Print Edition | Subscribe