Another piece of history was made on Indonesian soil when the legendary yet super charismatic Morrissey finally landed here and performed his best hits. It was more like a pilgrimage than a music gig.
The atmosphere was arguably different from any other concert held here when Jakarta’s Tennis Indoor Senayan Stadium found itself swamped by thousands of die-hard fans of Stephen Patrick Morrissey.
The visit by Morrisey, or Moz as he is affectionately called, was highly anticipated for a very long time. His superb past with The Smiths really stole the love of probably millions of men and women across the world, including those in Indonesia.
Tickets to his concert sold out within hours when online sales opened a few months ago. The sale of black market tickets also went wild, with an average price increase of 30 percent. Remaining tickets took only minutes to sell, with demand being exceptionally high.
Most indie kids were there dressed in their best and longtime fans stepped out in the best Moz or The Smiths tees. It was a great celebration of life.
Not only that, Moz put out a brief statement about animal cruelty. Prior to his concert, Moz, who is an animal rights activist and vegetarian, sent a letter to the Indonesian Forestry Ministry to demand that action be taken against Surabaya Zoo in East Java.
The zoo has been in the spotlight due to the many animals that have died while under its care. One of the most recent cases was the death of a giraffe that had more than 20 kilograms of plastic in its stomach.
“There can be no justification for seemingly endless debates and delays while animals continue to suffer and die. Please take immediate action to close the Surabaya Zoo and transfer its animals to more suitable environments,” the letter, made available to The Jakarta Post by animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said.
The outside area of the venue housed one booth for local animal rights organization Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). Natalie Stewart, one of JAAN’s founding members, said the organization had been contacted by PETA, who asked whether it would like to have a booth there.
“[Morrissey’s] really interested in the Surabaya Zoo issue, as we are, and we have gone there and met with the zoo people many times. So we are happy to see international pressure concerning the issue because it’s really important,” she said before the concert began.
But, whatever political issues he brought to town, music will always be his main agenda. After the gates opened at around 7:30 p.m., fans had to wait another 90 minutes before the curtain finally fell and Moz’ visit to Jakarta became reality.
The Smiths’ old single, “How Soon is Now” opened the set at 9 p.m. sharp. Of course, the crowd went wild with euphoria.
“Selamat malam (Good evening), Jakarta. Now my Jakarta is full,” he said as an opener pleaser to the crowd. He probably had heard the many shouts of approval by his Indonesian fans and yes, it was a great moment to remember.
Moz hit the stage at a high pace in first half of the concert with his best hits in Indonesia being among the very first few songs.
“I did, I did not expect this,” he said prior to “Alma Matters”, his fourth song of the night.
The audience sang along, especially those born in the 1990s when his songs were big hits here.
“You’re English is very good,” he said to the crowd after performing all-time favorite “Everyday is Like Sunday”.
Praditya Sutrisno from Indika Cipta Kreasi, which organized the event, said the organizers had trouble finding vendors who were willing to sell non-meat products only, which Moz had firmly requested.
However, in the end they managed to find several vendors and members of the audience did not bother leaving the area to find food containing meat but were content eating vegetarian wraps and nasi pecel (rice with boiled vegetables and peanut sauce).
During “Meat of Murder”, another The Smiths’ song he played that night, Moz featured the slaughter of animals very clearly. He probably wanted his fans to feel the reality of what animals face. It was a bit sickening but then again, Moz got his point across.
The audience was also treated to a non-smoking concert as they were requested to leave behind their cigarettes before entering the venue, also in line with the singer’s wishes.
Mantas, an audience member, said he was a bit irritated by the rules. “But I must admit, it’s more comfortable this way,” he added.
For die-hard fans of Morrissey, the rules were merely small sacrifices. In their opinion, Moz is bigger than anything so the restrictions he requested were no big deal.
Fietra, who has three Morrissey-related tattoos, said that she went to the airport to see the singer arrive and remained right at the front of the stage despite being squashed by other audience members who were bigger than her.
“That genius [Morrissey] can make lyrics that [tells stories] that can happen to us anytime, but we don’t know it.
He is, of course, a human being but how can he predict so much in his lyrics?” she said.
Aca, another fan, said he was so enthusiastic about seeing Morrissey perform that he also went to the singer’s Singapore show, which was held a few days before.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to explain [why I like Morrissey]. I like him because he is just cool the way he is. He doesn’t need to do anything really,” he said.
Now that he had finally seen the singer in person, Aca said that he felt a little hollow inside. “I have seen the show twice. Now what should I do?” he said.
But speaking of fans’ impression of the concert, the winner of it all is Iqbal Djoha who managed to climb onto the stage and hug Morrissey as hard as he could. He was faced with a big crew accompanying Moz on the world tour.
“My intention was to actually hug him. No matter what happened, I wanted to try my best. Then at the end of the show, I noticed that security was not that tight. I jumped onto the stage when the opportunity arose. I landed awkwardly and felt a bit of pain. Anyone can feel pain, but not just anyone can hug Moz, right?” he said proudly.
It was regrettable that Moz performed so many of his hits in the first half of the concert. His encore was not perfect as the audience was mostly unfamiliar with the songs.
But then again, it’s Moz and no one could ask for more. As his final song ended, he retreated behind the curtain while calling out: “Aku cinta kamu [I love you], with all my heart. May we never be apart.”
Love is there for Moz, wherever he may roam in this country.