Paper airplanes, interactive fun mark Travis’ return to Seoul

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 26, 2014 - 20:20
  • Updated : Aug 6, 2014 - 11:04
Internationally famous British alt-rock band Travis returned to Seoul an old friend, kicking off a lively concert Tuesday night.

“Hi everyone, it’s been a long time since we’ve been here,” said Fran Healy, the vocalist and leader, opening up the show. “And we’ve never forgotten you!” he shouted.

Travis, considered a forefather of modern British pop-rock, is currently on its Asia tour for its recent album “Where You Stand,” which topped the U.K. album charts last year.

Composed of vocalist and guitarist Fran Healy, guitarist Andy Dunlop, bassist Dougie Payne and drummer Neil Primrose, the band has released a total of seven albums since its debut in 1997 and has won three BRIT Awards. Travis is also credited with influencing other major rock bands such as Coldplay and Keane.

On Tuesday night, Travis delivered its second live concert in Korea in five years. Over 3,000 local fans, some holding signs reading “Travis,” filled Olympic Hall at Olympic Park, eastern Seoul. Breaking the air of excited anticipation, the band appeared on stage right on schedule amid a deafening roar from the audience.

The four rockers fittingly kicked off the night with their hit single “Mother,” as the stage lit up with flashing beams of red and white lights. Excited audience members sang along to the song’s lyrics “Oh, why did we wait so long?” and cheered as Healy shouted out “It’s so nice to be back!”
Travis performs live in Seoul on Tuesday. (SENA Korea)

Travis played a number of songs from old and new albums including “Selfish Jean,” “Moving,” “Where You Stand,” “Reminder,” “Writing to Reach You,” “Sing” and “Side.” Healy led an interactive concert throughout the night, communicating with the audience with ease and wit.

At one point, the vocalist attempted to explain his new look: a long beard that had surprised many fans when he first appeared on stage.

“Yeah, so I started growing a beard ... because they say that you can catch songs with a beard!” chuckled Healy.

Before launching into “Warning Sign,” Healy led fans through a practice run of the decorative chorus “Eh eh eh,” after which the fans and the band sang together.

At other times, Healy explained what inspired the band’s songwriting.

“This is a song about fatherhood. All of our band’s members are now married and have families. Becoming a father has been life-changing, and this is a song about that experience,” Healy said before playing “My Eyes.”

One of the highlights was the band’s hit single “Closer.” The last time they sang it here, Korean fans flew paper planes onto the stage. The Tuesday concert was no exception. Thousands of paper planes flew from all parts of the hall during the signature chorus, creating a spectacular view that resembled hundreds of white doves flying toward the band.

When Travis went backstage after finishing up its scheduled program, fans did not simply shout “encore, encore!” or cheer as audiences typically do. Testifying to the special meaning and popularity that “Closer” holds in Korea, fans clapped and sang the song’s chorus in unison more than six times, prompting the band members to return to the stage.

“We have to sing this for you guys, because it is just so appropriate right now,” said Healy as the band launched into an encore of “Happy,” the title track of “Good Feeling,” the band’s very first album.

“I’m so happy, ’cause you’re so happy,” they sang.

During “Flowers in the Window,” a single from Travis’ third studio album, fans prepared a pleasant surprise for the band by throwing colorful confetti during the song’s chorus.

“Wow, you guys are so amazing and sweet. Thank you so much,” said Healy, obviously touched.

The night came to an energetic close with another hit single, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me,” from the band’s second studio album, during which everyone in the entire hall stood up and swayed. Blowing kisses, the four members of Travis exited the stage wearing gratified smiles and promising to soon return to Korea.

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