A night of “Entertainment”

By Korea Herald

French rock band gives an electrifying night to fans in first Seoul concert

  • Published : Jan 24, 2014 - 19:15
  • Updated : Mar 13, 2014 - 17:58
Phoenix performs at its first concert in Korea at Uniqlo AX Hall, eastern Seoul, on Thursday night. (VU Entertainment)
“Hello Seoul, this is Phoenix from Paris!” shouted French alternative rock band Phoenix amidst an explosion of red lights and fans roaring in deafening unison as the band launched into its first Seoul concert on Thursday.

The concert, held at the UNIQLO AX hall in eastern Seoul, drew thousands of fans in their 20s and 30s, both Korean and non-Korean.

Phoenix, which features hard rock guitar chords with new wave synthesizer sounds, is known for a distinct style of music that combines the genres of pop and rock.

Composed of four members -- Thomas Mars, Laurent Brancowitz, Deck D’arc, and Christian Mazzalai -- the band rose to fame in the 2000s and clinched the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2010 with its fifth studio album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”

On Thursday night, the four French rockers did not make an appearance until an hour past the scheduled time. Instead, the renowned Korean electronic trio IDIOTAPE kicked off the night with heart-thumping electro rhythms. Then the lights went off and the band appeared with its signature synth melody from “Entertainment,” the title track of Phoenix’s recent album “Bankrupt!” The crowd went wild, shouting along, “Entertainment -- show them what you do with me!”

Mixing the new with the old, the band took audience members back with old favorites such as “Lasso,” “Girlfriend,” “Consolation Prizes” and “Armistice” as well as more recent hits including “Chloroform,” “The Real Thing,” “If I Ever Feel Better” and “S.O.S. in Bel Air.”

Phoenix performs at its first concert in Korea at Uniqlo AX Hall, eastern Seoul, on Thursday night. (VU Entertainment)
The night also included snazzy visuals that accompanied the band’s performance. For instance, a majestic image of a snow-topped volcanic mountain covered the back screen as the keyboard’s synth solo blasted away in “Drakkar Noir.” During “Bankrupt!,” psychedelic black and white stripes moved about like an optical illusion while a glistening red hue took up the big screen during the eerie piano chords in “Love Like a Sunset.”

“We waited 14 years to come play for you. Thank you!” shouted the band’s vocalist, Thomas Mars, as the band launched into its smash hit single “1901,” the title track of “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” which won Phoenix a Grammy Award in 2010.

The night came to a close with a 3-song encore beginning with vocalist Mars singing a mellow acoustic version of “Playground Love” and “Countdown” to the delight of many fans. The band then switched gears, bursting into its classic single “Rome,” with the whole crowd shouting the signature lyrics “Rome Rome Rome Rome” together.

To top off the already electrifying night of good music, Phoenix concluded by fittingly performing a prolonged version of “Entertainment” while Mars jumped into the crowd, moving about and shouting “Thank you, thank you!” in a raspy voice.

When Mars finally reached the center of the floor, the crowd suddenly lifted him up and crowd surfed him back rather slowly, as if to keep the band from leaving, back onto the stage. The band’s lead singer then surprised the audience by inviting everyone to come join him up on the stage; armies of excited fans rushed up to see the band up close.

In a chaotic and satisfying end to an exciting and memorable night, the band members shouted in French, “Merci beaucoup!” as they exited the stage waving and wearing gratified smiles.

By  Sohn Ji-young (jiyoung.sohn@heraldcorp.com)