A stage, a crowd and a mike ― that’s all these singers needAnyone who calls himself a singer hungers for the stage, where they can bare their souls and voices.
There are some in the field, however, who exhibit more passion for live performances than their peers do. If Jo Yong-pil epitomizes the Korean singer who has made a stage his own, then Lee Moon-sae and Yoon Band are his proteges.
The kind of concert we’re talking about is no once- or twice-a-year affair. It’s practically the equivalent of a single, traveling performance that fills an entire year’s calendar.
After years of success in the 1980s focusing on TV performances, Jo Yong-pil switched gears in the 1990s to the live stage. Ten years have since passed. Before the tears over his wife’s death in January had dried, Mr. Jo started performing onstage again in April. His road show hit venues in Uijeongbu, Ulsan, Masan and Jamsil Olympic Stadium, where his 35th-anniversary “History” concert last August drew a crowd of 45,000.
He didn’t rest in Jamsil, however, continuing on to Anyang, Bucheon, Suwon, Cheongju, Chuncheon and Cheonan. From Wednesday to Dec. 16, he will perform at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater, before tying a ribbon on the year at KBS Hall in the port city of Busan.
“Many people have told me that I was unrealistic when I decided to focus on stage performances,” he says. “But right now, since raising the quality of my show from steady stage experience, audiences are turning out strictly based on word of mouth.”
Lee Moon-sae, who vanished from TV for a while, also reconfigured himself as a singer focusing on live shows. His next concert, at Ewha Womans University, will be his fifth performance in Seoul this year.
Lee never planned on doing live gigs when he founded the Lee Moon-sae Recital six years ago. “At first, I only visited four or five big cities,” he says. “But my passion for live performance got so intense that today I visit more than 10 smaller cities.”
Ah, but who can match the passion of the Yoon Do-hyoun Band ― or simply the Yoon Band ― who haul their stage to Korea’s provincial backwaters on a trailer?
Following the release of their new album, “YB Stream,” the group took to the road in September. Their plan: Whoop it up in 32 cities and towns across the country before February.
“Over 90 percent of pop music performances are centered around Seoul,” said one band member. “We wanted to give [folks] a real performance by visiting the smaller cities.”
By no means are these three alone in focusing on live performances. Lee Seung-chul, Cherry Filter, Jun In-kwon, Bicycle Riding Scene, Zoo and many others greet their fans eye-to-eye at live shows.
Why do they persist in performing in the flesh? Have they merely switched gears to cope with sinking prospects in the music business? All of them firmly answer, “Never.” A stage is where a singer naturally belongs, they say.
“Comparing a stage that wasn’t prepared for me to a stage which I prepared for by dedicating my own time and effort is strictly impossible,” said one Yoon Band member. “They all hold the same strength in that a stage is where we exert our energy and receive it.”
He continues, “A performance itself is the process of obtaining energy. Three or four songs that were written from inspiration that we got on our road shows are recorded on this sixth album.”
by Lee Eun-ju