Saturday, July 11, 2009

Nostalgia X'travaganza: Semalam di Malaysia

Writing now from Malaysia, where I am based until the end of September. I attended last night a musical concert called Nostalgia X'travaganza: Semalam di Malaysia at the Life Centre on Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur, a featured event in the KL Music Festival.

Though titled 'a night in Malaysia' it featured a backup band from Singapore (Singapore Explosion) and a lineup of 10 pop and dangdut singers popular in Malaysia during the 1970s - 6 of whom were in fact Indonesian. My wife, who grew up on this music, was ecstatic to see in the (sagging) flesh pop icons of her youth and dragged along me and my daughter (who slept through practically the whole concert). We sat in the cheap seats all the way in back of the hall (48 ringgits a seat).

The concert lasted about 2.5 hours, including an intermission. Each singer sung two of their hit songs from the 1970s and 80s, one in the first half an one in the second. A VCD of these songs (also for sale outside the hall) was played before the show and during the intermission.

It was an intimate affair, despite the large audience numbers (at least 1000, by my count). A number of singers entered from the audience and some danced with audience members or presented the mike to individual audience members and had them sing lines from their songs. One (male) audience member was invited on stage to dance and sing with a singer. One of the singers, aged late 50s, dressed in tight-fitting outfits and made comments on her own sexy appearance. Another (male) singer repeatedly requested that the audience applaud him. Singers spoke about their past appearances in Malaysia (one Indonesian singer first sang in Malaysia in 1967) and offered personal anecdotes.

The audience mostly consisted of people in their 40s and 50s. Some brought their children along. There were many jilbab among them - and few Chinese or Indians or DLLs visible.

On the way back to our hotel we took a cab driven by a driver who turned out to be from Serang, Banten. In a Malaysian accent, he explained that he had lived in Malaysia sinc 1980. Most everyone working in KL, he told us, were migrants from elsewhere - many of them from Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi.

1 comment:

J. Simon van der Walt said...

Good to read your blog again Matthew, once again exploring the byways of cultures high and low. Keep 'em coming :)