Shorter concert, better quality

Lin Lin Khaing

Rock group Iron Cross will stage four monthly solo concerts by each of the group’s four rockers: Lay Phyu, A Nge, Myo Gyi, and Y Wine. The 90-minute concerts aim to set the standard for other concerts that mostly last more than two hours.

The “Live 90” concert series will kick off with a performance by Lay Phyu on May 15 at Myanmar Event Park, which will be televised live. The rocker sat down recently with Myanmar Eleven to discuss the merits of the 90-minute format and live broadcasting.

Tell us about the concert series.

The concert is a joint collaboration between Iron Cross and Family Entertainment. My concert takes place this month, followed by the one by A Nge in June, Myo Gyi in July, and Y Wine in August. After this concert series, we’re planning another series from September to December.  We have high expectations regarding this series.

We’re not really the first band adopting this 90-minute concert format. It’s not our principle either. The format has been in use in other countries where concerts last between 60 and 90 minutes. In Myanmar, concerts go on and on for three and a half to four hours. It has become like a tradition now. 

We don’t want the fans that are coming to our ‘one man show’ to have any misunderstandings. Our concert will run for 90 minutes as stated in our concert title. I want to encourage other artists to adopt this practice.

To put it simply, you can perform for 60 minutes under this format if you have only released one album. You can have two songs by artists you respect and invite a friend to perform with you as a guest. I want this platform in place. Our group has made a lot of investment. The concerts will be broadcast live on 4HD and 5 Special channels. We plan to broadcast the second series nationwide on free to air channels in September.

Why does the new format matter?

A major advantage is that if an artist is performing at Sanchaung, fans can go and watch another artist performing in Insein later. There are 1,000 tickets to my solo concert. Given the fame of Iron Cross, we could sell at least 3,000 or 4,000 tickets for each concert. There may be fans who have come to our concerts for several times. It’s difficult to stage a big concert these days. In the past, we even had to seek permission from the Deputy Commander. Now we have to apply for permission from the regional chief after the civil government took office. Not many concerts receive permission. We want to create a new opportunity for people in the music industry. We can hold a concert for 500 people in Yangon as well as in Myingyan.  A concert should have its expected duration just like a puppet show or a movie screening. We want to create a new culture, a new lifestyle. I want others to help us make it happen.

Will all concerts be held in Yangon only?

For the first series, yes. After that, we’re thinking about staging concerts in somewhere else as well. While Myo Gyi is performing in Yangon, A Nge may be performing in Pyin Oo Lwin, for example. It’s my attempt [to improve] our music industry. When this happens, we will be able to fulfill the need for copyright [protection]. Our country has much potential to generate income with our artistic skills. Among the entertainment sectors, the music [industry] doesn’t need much to reach the international level. The only obstacle is language. This is not difficult for those kids who have been learning English since kindergarten. We need to prepare [them] for the international trends.

No live broadcasting ever in the past. Why now?

I want this format to take off in this country. When a concert’s format is more compact, the music quality could reach a level that we have never seen before. Many people asked why Iron Cross [concerts] never went live on TV. Well, we weren’t ready [back then]. Now we are able to broadcast our concerts on TV with high quality by cooperating with some experts. We have been discussing this format for two years now, with lots of preparations to make. We plan to award Ks 200,000 (US$200) to each composer for this broadcast. The set list covers 16 songs.

In what ways is this solo concert different from your previous ones?

It’s much different in terms of duration. We normally performed for three and a half hours. But with the new format, it’s down to only 90 minutes this time. We have both regular fans who have been to our concerts many times and those have seen us once in concert.  We will try to make sure our concert series is worth attending. We will perform our best with 16 songs.

Will Iron Cross stage concerts regularly?

Yes. As usual, we will perform during major festivals like Thingyan and New Year. We will focus on our ‘smaller’ concerts so that this format will over time be adopted by fellow singers. I.C (Iron Cross) will carry on in both ways, though: long big concerts and 90-miinute concerts.