Yuna @ The Glass House, Pomona, CA (2-20-2014)
Note: Due to my camera having broke, everything was taken on my iPod, which sufficed, I guess.
Yuna, you are an angel.
The Malaysian singer-songwriter who was discovered in the US just a few years ago for her smooth sounds and warm acoustics, only to become an international artist still keeping her Malay roots intact, has found ground here in the US for her 2014 Nocturnal Tour, named after her latest album “Nocturnal.”
As the last date of her US tour, Yuna graced Pomona’s Glass House Thursday night with her feel-good tunes and demure presence.
“I grew up practicing Islam and there’s a focus there to just make music for a greater good,” she tells Here & Now. “You know, I just want to spread this positive energy and I think, even though we’re all different, in music … it’s borderless.”
Opening act Marques Toliver warmed the audience up with his classical violin- and guitar-playing accompanied by his smooth R&B vocals. A cultured traveler, his talent and worldly influence was made apparent as he skillfully played his violin in rapid, rhythmic and sometimes soothing motion.
Yuna was the real showstopper, however, as her presence created a very warm atmosphere in the room.
A spacious venue with a second-level balcony and disco-ball, the dimly-lit modern-style room was intimate enough to fit all 779 guests with ample space in the room.
Her voice automatically enchanted the room, as elder Malaysian families and their children, Asian-American teenage groupies, young-to-middle-aged adults and ethnics of all kinds responded to her sound. Her conviction drew you in. Her softness intrigued you. She created a warm, feel-good atmosphere with a nice band to back her up.
On her songwriting, Yuna crafts soft melodies with pop, R&B and Malay influences that are both intriguing and infectious, as she brings you into a world of life and love.
“I see myself as a storyteller so sometimes I feel like I’m writing to an audience,” she continues. “But at the same time, sometimes I feel like I’m writing to just one person… [I think] maybe I will sing about this, I feel like a lot of people can relate to this.”
Perhaps some of my favorite moments of the night was when she played one of her international hits “Lullabies,” which was such a treat to witness live backed by a whole raw band, still creating an atmosphere of sound that surpasses the original recording.
She also performed her rendition of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You,” allowing us to witness her “trying something new” by recording backing-vocals and instruments right in front of the audience to loop. It was a special and sweet moment, as it was hard to not get into the groove of the song. And, her voice adds such a nice and sweet touch that could be a successful song on its own.
Showcasing many of her diverse talents and sounds, she had an array of upbeat songs to more melodramatic ones, to atmospheric sounds and stripped-down acoustic songs like “Decorate,” which she recounts as one of the first songs she wrote upon arriving in the US to make music.
Stopping at some points throughout her set to call out, “Pomonaaaa,” while mentioning that the crowd was one of the best crowds she has played for so far, Yuna made sure her last US tour date was a memorable one–for us and for herself.
The woman is becoming big. I just feel so honored to have been able to see her–driving out just one hour before doors opening–only to catch her on her last US tour date for who knows when will be her next arrival! And, with the luck of my intuition and “feeling things out” after the show (grabbing a bite to eat and thinking with ease of how long it takes to pack up after a show), I was able to see, meet and greet Yuna herself before leaving while snagging a small conversation, and even later was invited to be on Marques’ guest list, as he himself offered, for his show this coming Monday night (he was quite surprised my friend and I deeply appreciated his music).
Sometimes, blessings can hide themselves in weird ways. And even if during those moments, they may feel entirely natural and normal, taking a step back can help you realize that maybe everything does happen for a reason. It is these moments when reality shakes you into what you really like and where you really belong—with music.