Last night (Sunday, Dec. 17), the godfather of Korean rock music Shin Joong-hyun held his “last” concert, rocking out a career in a three-hour gig showcasing his great career. He played many of his biggest songs (although certainly not all of them… there are simply too many). He played them all different styles, just as his career has crossed over so many styles of music.
It was my first time seeing Shin play live, so I was pretty psyched. He opened with Bissok-ui Yeoin, which was okay, but things got a lot more interesting with the third song, Bombi — good song, and he played it more in the original style (throughout the first act of the show, he shifted between playing the songs in their original, “psychedelic” style and a more KBS-trot style). Other highlights were a great version of Mireon and Baram. And when he played Areumdaum Gangsan, he played it in the “disco” style of the Shin Joong-hyun Myujik Pawo (Shin Joong-hyun Music Power) album.
His two “guests” were Shin Hyo-beom and In Sun-i, who were completely different musically than Shin Joong-hyun. I guess that sort of thing is inevitable at a Korean rock concert. Sigh. (Although I will say that In was looking pretty damn good for a woman her age… doing the techno-dance thing just like Uhm Jung-hwa).
The last section of the show featured more of his recent song (which I do not like so much), but done in a more rock style, with just guitars and drums (which I do like). He even played a couple of songs with all his sons on backing, which was kind of cool.
To be honest, it was not a great concert. Age has taken its toll on Shin’s voice. Although he has played so many different kinds of rock over the years, last night showed how he was gotten stuck in the dubious blues-based commercial rock of the 1980s. But it was Shin’s last show, and I guess he is allowed to play it however the hell he wants to.
And so, Shin did not burn out. Last night, the founder of rock in Korea and the single most important figure in the country’s musical history, faded away, leaving a 50-year career with dignity and grace. I was just happy I could be there.
(Note: The first two pics are of Shin Joong-hyun back in his heyday. Second two pics are more recent. I’ll add concert photos once my friend sends me some.)