There is something really special about seeing a band that you loved when you were a teenager and had pretty much forgotten since they dropped off your radar as time went on. When we saw that the Cranberries were playing at Ancol, we knew that we had to go. If only to reminisce about life in the good old days when I stole Tash’s Cranberrries tape until it got chewed up by the tape player in the Datsun from overplaying “Zombie” and thinking I had a great Irish accent as I shouted out “Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to? Do you have to? Do you have to let it lingerrrrrr?”.
The Cranberries played as part of Java Rockin’ Land – an annual event in Jakarta, luring local and international acts and a crowd of pierced and black tshirt adorned rock fans. This festival had it all; Happy Mondays, Good Charlotte, Thirty Seconds to Mars and surprise, shock, what the? Frente?
But the Cranberries were what motivated us to brave the Jakarta traffic from the South to the North, an unheard of journey to us who quiver about growing old in macet total without the patience of Indonesians to carry us there; without feeling a sense of insanity brought about by being trapped in an unmoving vehicle.
Lucky us, we arrived unscathed and at a normal level of sanity at Ancol, brushed past the endless stream of scalpers and were drawn into the depths of Ancol by the sound of death metal in the distance. And as luck would have it, with bintang freshly purchased we wondered for a moment where the stage would be as the national anthem blared over the loudspeakers and then there was the sound of screaming and everyone around us starting to run towards the international stage. Yes! Perfect! They had begun.
There is something that can be sometimes isolating about living in a foreign country; a sense of not really belonging and never blending in with the locals, always being the “Mister” and never the “Miss”. But this something was lost when the Cranberries played. There we were (admittedly, stuck behind a large pole on the side of the stage for most of the concert) singing our hearts out to our favourite old tunes along with a huge, happy crowd of Indonesians and feeling the truth of the old saying about music breaking down international boundaries…or language…or life being a mistake without music.
And Dolores, sang her little heart out, did some interesting dance moves, played all of our favourite hits and importantly, wore a variety of hats to keep us engaged. It’s a funny feeling to see a band that you used to love and think about the years in between – it had been 20 years (gulp) since Tash bought that tape I wrecked it and so much has happened in our lives since then. And as I watched Dolores singing the old tunes, and slipping in a couple of new ones, I thought, oh my god, how many times has she had to sing this in the last 20 years? Is she ok? Should I cheer louder for the new songs to give her some spirit?
What I love about going to concerts in Indonesia is the crowd who of course love it and sing along, sometimes text, always take photos, but definitely enjoy it and clap along with the songs, but once the song is over, there is silence. It’s always great to wait until the band leaves the stage and wait for the usual clapping and cheering for an encore and see if Indonesians will even bother with the effort. I have
seen a few bands who have had to come out to a silent audience, not feeling the bravado of rock stars they were hoping for. But there were enough people in Ancol to make a little noise for them to come out again for a couple of extras, which I suppose is a good sign.
My pacar said that they should have tried harder and maybe said a couple of words of Indonesian, just a ‘selamat malam Jakarta’ would have driven the crowd wild, but I had a vision of her with the playlist before the concert that had just been handed to her before the show, looking at it, sighing a little inside and thinking “yep, hasn’t changed much in 20 years”. But maybe that’s just my imagination. Just my imagination. It was.