Remembering Michael Jackson’s First Singapore Gig

In 1993, Florence Fong attended Michael Jackson’s first concert in Singapore. Twice. Stirred by the King of Pop’s sudden demise on June 25, 2009, she remembers the time. (This story first appeared in Issue 976 on Jul 2, 2009.)

It was a life-altering first concert for a dorky, uptight 13-year old.

August 29, 1993 — the opening night of the Singapore leg of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour at the National Stadium. My older brother and I had scraped together $65 each for the cheapest tickets in the free-seating gallery area. We took the bus to the stadium at 8am — even though the King of Pop wasn’t due to appear almost 12 hours later at 7.30pm. Details of how we entertained ourselves during the long wait are sketchy, but I recall finally entering the stadium feeling gross and sweaty. But snagging pretty good seats.

Then the moment arrived: MJ burst onstage in a dramatic explosion of fireworks, shimmering in a gold-and-black body suit, straggly-haired, small from where I was, but larger than life. He stood still for minutes, letting the 45,000-strong crowd swoon in his gloriousness.

“Argh,” I’d gasped, grasping my brother's arm. “I can’t believe he’s here!" And then the band broke out into the bass-driven ‘Jam’ and The Gloved One showed us how to crotch-grab and footslide in a way Justin Timberlake can only dream of. If the then 34-year-old was feeling the strain from the child molest charges against him at that time, he didn't show it. It was the first time in my life I yelled and danced like a maniac for two hours straight — and I was at an age when the humilation of being seen shaking my arse in public was second only to being caught paying for sanitary napkins at FairPrice. When someone offered to sell us tickets for the next night’s finale gig, we went home and begged our parents for another $65 each.

But the next evening, we turned up only to be told the concert was postponed as Michael had an “acute vascular headache”. All psyched up with no Jacko in sight, we walked dejectedly from the stadium all the way to Raffles Hotel where the star stayed (even trudging along Nicoll Highway — sorry, mum) as the roads were clogged with traffic. We then spent a foolish half hour below his suite calling out his name along with a bunch of fellow fans. “Michael, we love you!” shrieked one of my brother’s 18-year-old macho guy friends like a lovesick girl.

We weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him at the hotel, but we did catch his second equally exhilarating performance two days later. Sixteen years on, when I can now finally afford a top-tier $200 ticket, those two concerts remain the best ones I’ve ever been to.

Thanks, Michael, for showing me how to face the music and dance.

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