Legendary rock band breaks its long silence
Deulgukhwa, which means chamomile, is often referred to as the pioneer of Korean underground bands. The rock band became a sensation by bringing Western funk rock music to the then-repressive Korean society in the mid-1980s.
Its first two albums were huge successes, solely through its live shows while shunning appearing on radio broadcasts, which? was ?something unheard of in the Korean music industry at that time. However, because of ?different opinions among the members, the group ?disbanded in 1989. Yet, a host of Koreans missed its music so much that some ?singers released remakes of its songs.
Last year, Deulgukhwa broke its 24-year drought by announcing its comeback and held several small and big concerts compris?ed of old hits.
Deulgukhwa, which debuted with the song “March,” geared up to the delight of fans through ?10 days of concerts titled “Again, March,” which kicked off April 4 at Interpark Art Hall, Mapo District, western Seoul.
On opening night, the sold-out concert was packed with ?middle-aged fans, ?teenagers in uniforms and those in their 20s, too. Along with them, some public figures also enjoyed the concert, including leading comedian and TV show host Shin Dong-yeop, singer Ali, professional music critic Lim Jin-mo and renowned author Park Min-kyu. All of them ?sang along to the songs. The starstruck audience ?also ?urged on the group. Shin, as a longtime fan of Deulgukhwa, told an old story about the band on the stage. “When I was in high school, I visited and asked the band to perform at my school festival,” he said. “Impressed by my audacity, they took my solicitation despite its tight schedules.” He told the trio, “My generation grew up listening to your music. Now that you are back, please don’t leave us.”
After his comment, a soldier in his 20s stood up abruptly and asked the trio, “I’m on a short break from the military service. Please call out my name, so I can last the remaining days in the army.” The band obliged by calling out his name onstage despite the giggling audience.
In line with the title “Again, March,” the concert began with the old-hit “March.”
Lead vocalist Jun In-kwon, who is famous for his unique husky voice, warmed up the showcase by mesmerizing the audience by hitting a high note. In contrast, bassist Choi Sung-won’s singing was a bit shaky. But it was still enough to woo the fans.
The 58-year-old lead vocalist said, “I devoted myself to the practice, I do nothing that can harm my voice [although he has a history of drug charges].” He added, “I will work harder to reward my fans for the support they’ve given me.”
The trio performed a serial of its hits like “That’s Only My World” and “After the Love.” Of course, the most anticipated moment was when it unveiled its new songs, “Song, Wake up from Sleep,” composed by Jun In-kwon and written by Choi Sung-won, and “Walk and Walk,” composed and written by Jun In-kwon. Both of them were compelling. “Walk and Walk” read like a poem: “Maybe I’m blessed to be born and live. I walk and walk beyond the shining star.” The song sounded like a much-needed tribute for the weary walking the lonely path of life as artists.
Meanwhile, verses from “Song, Wake up from Sleep” read like this: “Song, wake up from Sleep. So I can love myself again and I can feel myself” sound like a soliloquy. It also implies the group’s resolution to commit to music forever.
Music critic Lim said of the show, “The concert is a reminder of the immense power the band’s music holds. It shows what music should be like to those who make and sing just repetitive songs.” He added, “The lyrics of ‘Song, Wake up from Sleep’ will serve as a mantra for the band.
The opening night ended with “Don’t Worry,” a song that plants hope in the hopeless.
“Let go of the past. Whatever the memories are, they all have their own meaning in our lives. Leave them behind, and let’s sing. Say we had a beautiful dream without regret.”
Through the concert, Deulgukhwa proved that it’s still alive and well despite the long break and its share of scandals. The group’s new album containing the new songs will be released next month.
By Yang Sung-hee [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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