I was invited by Batam Tourism to check out Michael Learns To Rock concert in Batam. Yes, you heard right, in Batam, the Island just south of Singapore in Indonesia that can be reached just an hour from the ferry.
Batam, being the largest city in the province of the Riau Island, didn’t feature much in our lives until the Singapore government decided to work with the Indonesian government in the 80s to develop Batam by introducing Industrial Parks. Since then Singaporeans has visited Batam and Bintan for work and play, an alternative when connection to Johor Bahru is jammed up.
Batam is really a food, shopping and massage haven of Singaporeans including myself. At a fraction of the price, I can get good massage for 2 hours and relax. Shopping at the local supermarkets I can stock up my personal grooming products such as deodorants, facial wash cream and shavers.
If things move along, I can add one more activity to Batam: Live entertainment. So here I was in the banquet hall of Radisson Hotel and that’s when Michael Learns To Rock (MLTR) performed their memorable songs.
Judging by how the whole hall was transformed into one big Karaoke session, everyone has truly enjoyed themselves belting out hits like “That’s Why You Go Away” “Take Me To Your Heart (Jacky Cheung’s 吻别)” “25 Minutes” and other songs.
Having a concert by famous world-class entertainer(s) is not foreign to Singaporeans. There are concerts by international acts in Singapore and there are those who made trips to Resorts World Genting to listen to artistes such as Grasshoppers 草蜢， Angela Zhang 张韶涵, Na Ying 那英 and Fei Yu Ching 费玉清 to name a few.
The main reasons why we don’t mind travelling to watch our favourite acts is because the cost of the ticket is more acceptable than watching it in Singapore. Granted, without the travelling costs, Singapore is cheaper that way but the allure of watching the concerts outside of Singapore opens up possibilities of other touristy things we can do. In that sense, going to the concert can be part of the holiday experience that Tourism Offices and Operators have not really fully maximise them yet in my books.
This is where I think Batam has an untapped potential that Genting in Malaysia has an advantage for quite a long time, including having a good performance hall. Batam definitely needs a better venue to accommodate more people.
Then again, the MLTR need no introduction to the Indonesians. Word is the tickets are sold out 2 weeks before the concert is to be held. Having a small venue with limited seats also contributes to quick sale. However, I wondered if Batam has a bigger venue, would Singaporeans come as well?
I feel that the potential is there if the organisers took the effort to market to Singaporeans with an English version of their ticketing system. And it is quite affordable too ranging from $55 to $250 (S$1 = IDR10000) and a nightly room rate of about $50-70 per night plus $34 return ferry tickets in total will cost just slightly more than a Singapore ticket at the Esplanade or MBS Theatre.
I have heard there will be a music festival in Batam in March. Hopefully, I have more information to share with everyone then.