SINGAPORE - Madonna fan Diane Chan paid $388 for her ticket to the singer's first concert in Singapore on Sunday (Feb 28) at the National Stadium. But she could not make out what the star was saying most of the time and could barely see her, either.
"From where I sat, the sound was horrible," says the 43-year-old marketing director, who was seated up in the stands. "There was too much echo and a lot of the time I could not make out what Madonna was saying. And I knew before going to the show that my seat was not near the stage but I didn't expect the video screens that zoomed in on her to be so small either.
"The fans in the standing section near the stage seem to be only ones enjoying themselves."
Indeed, while many of her fans were happy that Madonna finally put on a show in Singapore, there were plenty more like Ms Chan who felt like the concert left much to be desired. Apart from the complaints about the venue's bad sound quality, which also plagued other concerts, fans also said they could barely see their idol - because the jumbo video screens on stage were not jumbo enough for the large venue and also because of ticketing and seating issues.
The tickets to the concert were among the most expensive for a concert held in Singapore, ranging from $108 to $1,288.
Dental surgeon Calvin Chin, who had flown to Taiwan to catch Madonna's show there earlier this month, says the singer's set there was much better than the Singapore stop, and not just because the Taiwan show was "unadulterated", featuring songs and segments banned here.
"I feel that the sound and view in Taiwan was better because it was a smaller and closed venue, rather than the National Stadium, which was much bigger," says the 36-year-old who paid $188 for his ticket.
Madonna's Taiwan show was held at an indoor venue, the Taipei Arena, which has a 15,000 capacity. The National Stadium can hold up to 55,000 but was less than half full for Madonna's concert.
Music and marketing manager Low Seow Yee's view of the concert was also less than desirable, but she did not mind it because the occasion was special.
Says the 37-year-old: "I bought $188 tickets in the standing pen and in normal circumstances and for any other artist, perhaps I would have demanded a better view.
"But this is Madonna, and I know how much a show like this can cost so I can understand. Ironically, I got a much better view when I went to the back and outside of the standing pen."
Besides the sound and view, there were also ticketing kerfuffles that left many in a huff.
Last Friday, fans who had bought early standing tickets at $188 got upset when they found out that a new ticketing category was later added in front of where they were supposed to stand.
While the map on the ticketing page was altered to make it look like their segment has been pushed back, the organisers later explained that the map was "not drawn to scale" and that their position was unchanged.
On show day itself, scores of $288 ticket holders received last-minute text messages, informing them that their seats had been upgraded "due to a technical setup".
Fans such as lawyer Stephen Ong, 40, who had paid $388 for their tickets, were irked by the move because the upgraded fans got better seats than him.
"I don't think it's fair and I've written in to the Sports Hub Tix to ask for a $100 refund. Why should I have paid more when those who paid less got upgraded to an even better section?"
The organisers did not respond to The Straits Times' queries for clarifications by press time.
Of course, none of those problems about sound, view and seating took away the fun for those who were near the stage, such as home-grown Mandopop star Stefanie Sun. She told The Straits Times that she was "very happy" with the concert.
Having performed her own show at the National Stadium during the 2014 Kepler World Tour, she noted: "The sound system was a lot better today compared to my show."
Additional reporting by Anjali Raguraman