Last Thursday I took the train up to Seoul to catch Duran Duran. It was the first time in almost twenty years that they were playing South Korea. I figured that they would be a great band to see as my last concert here in the ROK. With that in mind, I scored a ticket in the standing area right in front of the stage. In fact, it was the sixth row of the standing section. Wrap your head around that concept.
So I get to the Olympic Park Gymnasium and pick up my ticket. The security guards then directed those in the standing section to proceed to one side of the venue. Now here is the part of Korean concert going that I will never understand: They then lined us up by ticket number. The standing section of most of the concerts I've attended in North America and Europe are first come first served. Yet here in a country that still struggles with lines at the grocery stores, they have people line up like those crazy "get to know you" games at camp. "OK, this time everyone line up by height. Next by reverse alphabetical order of your middle names." Security guards spent the hour before the doors opened making sure that people were in numerical order. Once the tickets were taken and the doors opened, it was all a waste as people just rushed to the spots nearest to the stage. My long legs, quick stride and determination allowed me to find a spot on the front row.
Now another aspect of the oxymoronic aspect of entertainment here is that you can buy bootlegged DVDs on many street corners, yet they are fairly strict about taking photos at some concerts. Four or five guys, who I guess might be drop outs of the military, were stationed in the front to crack down on cameras. They would scan the audience looking for the metallic shine or unfortunate flash. For some like myself and the guy next to me it becomes a game. The goal is to see how many shots you can get without being noticed. Needless to say, I think I won this concerts game. Although the dude next to me with the SLR wins top prize for both most photos and largest camera used categories.
For those wondering about the show, I'll just say it was everything I expected. They busted out all their hits, as well as the newer stuff. I actually really enjoyed some of the new stuff, even if Timberlake's name was dropped as a co-writer of one song. I was a little worried when I heard that they had forgotten some lyrics at a previous show. I can report they didn't forget the lyrics, just forgot the order. As they closed out the show with "Rio" it sounded like they were trying a round as Simon sang "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand" while John was busting out, "Her name is Rio she don't need to understand." I'll cut them some slack, as they are pushing 50, have recorded over twelve albums, and the song they were singing was older than some of my coworkers.