updated 28 May 2014, 11:41
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Empty seats reserved for high rollers
by Tan Kee Yun

WHENEVER local pop star Stefanie Sun holds her solo concerts, be it here or overseas, it is always a full-house audience that greets her.

Last year in May, for example, her star power packed Taipei’s premier gig venue Taipei Arena, which has a capacity of 15,000, to the brim. Two months later, the 31-year-old had a 7,500-strong crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium singing along with her.

Not last night though.

At the singer’s one-night-only gig at the Compass Ballroom of Resorts World Convention Centre, glaring empty pockets of seats greeted her.

Ten minutes before her concert started, nearly one-quarter of the prime seats, right in the middle of the indoor venue, were still left unfilled.

It turned out that tickets to those seats were given free to casino guests, members and high rollers. According to Mr Robin Goh, Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) assistant director of communications, some of these guests “did not turn up” eventually.

He explained that it is “common practice” for casino resorts all over the world to reserve seats for their most important guests.

“For example, when Celine Dion did her resident headlining show in Las Vegas, the best seats will be reserved for the casino VIPs,” he said.

Mr Goh added that in the case of Stefanie’s concert, “less than 20 per cent” of the 4,000 seats went to Resorts World’s casino guests.

He declined to go into details as to who these high rollers were.

In any case, once the lights dimmed, the empty seats caused an immediate commotion among the ticket holders who were seated much further behind. Many rushed forward, making a beeline for the empty seats to get a better view of their idol.

It was a chaotic situation that went slightly out of hand, admitted Mr Goh.

“No concert would allow such a thing to happen, because it is simply not fair for the other ticket holders who had paid for their seats,” he said.

Ticket prices ranged from $88 to $198.

It is a “learning process” for the ushers, he explained, many of whom were taken aback by the unruly behaviour some members of the audience displayed.

“After this, we might consider hiring bouncers for our future concerts,” said Mr Goh.

It is Resorts World Sentosa’s second concert since it opened its doors in January.

The first act that performed at the Compass Ballroom was American pop rock band Boys Like Girls, who did a free standing gig on 28 Jan, mosh-pit style.

Stefanie’s concert is the first seated concert for the integrated resort. It held the official opening of its casino four days ago to enthusiastic response.

Come March, RWS will play host to Welsh evergreen singer Tom Jones.

But despite the disappointing no-show by the high rollers, Stefanie brought the house down with her energetic two-hour long performance. While it wasn’t on as massive a scale as her previous gigs, she proved that quality was what mattered in the end.

Stefanie serenaded her fans – among them families with kids and excited teenagers – with some of her greatest hits spanning her 10-year music career.

Everyone hummed along when she sang crowd favourites Same Kind and I’m Not Sad.

Her costumes were shimmering beautifully, especially on the Bollywood-themed Mystique; her shining gold get-up that showed off her slender legs was a visual treat. The sound system proved to be solid as well and her soaring vocals were a delight to the ears.

Perhaps, it was love that was spurring her on – her boyfriend, Dutchman Nadim Van Der Ros, was spotted among the audience.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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