British Pop Band With a Particular Warmth for Korea

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British Pop Band With a Particular Warmth for Korea

Rialto, an electronic pop band from Britain that topped Korean music charts in 1998, performed at Mesa Popcon in Namdaemun on Friday. More than 350 fans waited for the four musicians in the standing-room-only concert hall.

In a blinding flash of light and smoke, Rialto took the stage with "Anyone Out There," a song from its latest album, "Night on Earth." For an hour and a half, Rialto performed songs from "Night on Earth," released Jan. 4 in Korea by Warner Music Korea, and "Rialto," an earlier album.

One of the new singles, "Catherine's Wheel," got its first release worldwide in Korea.

Lead singer Louis Eliot grabbed his guitar for the second song, "Broken Barbie Doll," from "Rialto." The spotlight focused on Jonny Bull as he leaned back with pursed lips, lost in playing his guitar. At the back of the black stage, drummer Pete Cuthbert was hard to see. Later, during an interlude, the bass player Julian Taylor took a Korean fan from an admirer near the stage and fanned himself.

The dramatic music showed influences ranging from the new wave band OMD and the Beatles, performed by a lead singer who was coiffed a la John Lennon and who earlier last week named the tortured goth songwriter and singer Nick Cave as his favorite musician. Korean fans, some still wearing coats and hats, swayed in place, jumping to older, better-known songs.

After the flashing stage lights finally dimmed, the band left to cries of "Rialto!"

Called back for an encore, Mr. Eliot walked on stage alone and sang a cover of the song, "She Is Moving On." Smoke filled the stage as the other band members walked on one by one. After "Russian Doll" and "Skyscraper," the band gathered at the edge of the stage and kneeled with the audience behind them for a photo.

"Shh," Mr. Eliot said, adding, "This one might be familiar," before playing "Monday Morning 5.19," a single from the 1998 album that helped make Korea the country with the best Rialto album sales.

During the week before the concert, Rialto saw parts of Seoul normally reserved for window washers and furniture movers. The band members spent Wednesday shivering on the rooftop of a 10-story building in Samsung-dong making a music video for "Catherine's Wheel."

The video will feature the Korean actress and model Lee Na-young. "The song is about the pleasure and pain of falling for someone," Mr. Eliot said. "She looked kind of sensitive and complex."

The new album is "a collection of songs of night on earth, vignettes reflecting on life on earth," said a shivering Mr. Eliot after climbing down from the roof.

When asked why the band chose to make the music video in Korea, Mr. Eliot compared Korea to England, saying Korea "is such a different world. I'd much rather be here."

by Joe Yong-hee

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