A Night with an Indonesian Legend

22 Feb

About halfway through my trip I saw a sign for a concert in Jogja. Having only seen it in a fleeting glance I scoured the town trying to find another one. The poster was for Iwan Fals- one of the greatest Indonesian musicians who was also voted a Great Asian Hero a few years ago. Sure enough he was performing in Jogja on my last night in Indonesia in a performance called Nostalgia Cinta Untuk Jogja. This was a strange coincidence as he was also in Jogja on my last night there last year but I missed out on tickets.

That was it. I decided I had to buy a ticket which itself was a somewhat confusing process and I headed to the Grand Pacific Hall last Saturday to witness what was one of the best concerts I have ever been to.

Iwan Fals live in concert

Iwan Fals is nothing short of a legend in Indonesia. You see graffiti around which says “Iwan Fals for President”. His music unites Indonesians no matter what religion or ethnicity they are in a career that has spanned from the early 80s until today. During the New Order Regime he criticised  Suharto, something that was almost unheard of without severe consequences.

The venue was packed with all kinds of Indonesians from government officials to student activists, young and old and of course a few Westerners. Then as the smoke began to roll across the stage and the first few chords played the cheering began and continued for the next two and a half hours.

So many camera phones

The audience sang along with every song and the backing band were great (particular mention to the drummer who did some epic solos). I had awesome seats about 6 rows back from the stage and dead centre. My highlight of the night would have been when he played his song Ibu which is a beautiful song but there’s a particular part halfway through where he powers out one of the verses which gives you goosebumps and I saw a few of my fellow audience members shedding a tear or two.

The concert was truly sensational. You couldn’t help but feel somewhat inspired by it and there is no doubt as to why the Indonesian government saw him as such a threat back in the 80s and 90s. There was a real energy in the room unlike anything I had ever experienced before and it’s a feeling I’ll definitely treasure for a long time.

Truly a Great Asian Hero


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