Sat, 16 Sep 2000

Iwan Fals turns from rebel to concerned star

By Matdon

BANDUNG (JP): Without any intention of playing down other singers, Iwan Fals along with Chrisye remain Indonesia's top singers. Although both of them have different listeners, their concerts are always successful, crowded and eagerly waited by their loyal fans.

Chrisye is famous for nostalgic and melancholic songs without being sentimental, while Iwan's songs are energetic, poetic while critical at the same time.

Despite their popularity, Iwan is considered closer to the public as most of his songs "represent" people's feelings, expressing oppression, poverty, anger along with their anxiety.

On Thursday evening Sept. 14, Iwan scored another success in his latest concert at Siliwangi Stadium in Bandung.

Usually, his concerts end in chaos as his fans turn wild if they feel he does not sing enough songs to satisfy them, or if other singers or bands share the stage with him. Sometimes, they get upset simply because of the poor quality of the sound system. But such chaotic concerts stopped two years ago. Then, Iwan proved, during a show at Sasana Budaya Ganesha hall, that his concert could end in peace.

"This is not cowboy country. Rioting is not necessary. This is what I have been dreaming of witnessing for a long time," Iwan told The Jakarta Post a few hours before he went on stage on Thursday.

Contrary to the organizing committee's fears, not a single stone was pelted by the crowd despite the presence of other singers. The crowd simply booed but did nothing further.

Before Iwan appeared on stage, talented child singer Rudi Makassar belted out Iwan's songs, followed by Franky Sahilatua and the Musik Setengah Tiang group.

When Iwan took the stage, some 50,000 fans cheered loudly, singing along with their idol who performed his hit songs like Mimpi Yang Terbeli (Bought Dream), Kebaya Merah (Red Kebaya), the explosive Bongkar (Demolish) and Hio (Incense).

For a full two hours, he belted out 15 songs, which made the crowd introspective while at other times the songs' lyrics moved and heated them up.

"We all have our deep concern over the bombings in Jakarta. We do not need to fight it with violence. We must fight it with tenderness," said Iwan, inserting his statements between his singing.

In the past, Iwan was wild and a kind of rebellious spirit. Today, he is a totally different person. Although he still heated up the crowd with his Oemar Bakri hit, gone is his fiery shouting, which is now replaced with wise statements calling for peace.

During Thursday's concert, Iwan appeared on stage with Inisisri on rhythm guitar, Nanu on bass and Anto on the drums. Iwan's wife, Yos, and daughter Cikal were among the audience.

Tickets for the show were sold at Rp 16,500, but after Iwan had sung two songs, people entered the stadium freely after producing their identity card and showing they were not carrying any weapons.

Security was tight, with about 500 local policemen deployed in and around the stadium during the concert, called the Charity Concert for Human Rights Concern, A Day in a Refugee Camp. The event was organized by 11 private universities in Bandung and all the proceeds were donated to the refugees in Bengkulu and Ambon.

The concert ended with Iwan singing Kebaya Merah.