Review: Lee Seung Chul, Live in Canada

Lee Seung Chul in Toronto
Lee Seung Chul in Toronto

When I attend concerts and shows as media, I try to look at the performance with two sets of eyes – from a regular concert goer’s perspective and from a media perspective. In most shows, both sets of eyes tell me the same thing – whether good or bad – but occasionally, they differ. Why do I view the performance through two lenses? Primarily because doing so gives me a better insight into the show as a whole. More on that later though… let’s talk about the Lee Seung Chul (이승철) concert in Toronto.

I was excited about the Lee Seung Chul show because he’s an older performer who’s still relevant and it’s always fun to see someone whose career has spanned more than one decade as they usually put on a wonderful show. And he was no different. While I knew who he was, if you don’t, Ask a Korean has a great article on him to get you up to speed, plus you might know him from his time as a judge on the Korean music show, Superstar K. Or you might have heard one of his songs in a Korean drama as several of his songs have been used in dramas over the years.

But enough of the intro, I bet you want to know what the show was like… keep reading then.

Lots of happy fans at the meet & greet
Lots of happy fans at the meet & greet

Review of the Lee Seung Chul concert in Toronto

Media (myself and two local Korean outlets) were invited to the VVIP pre-show meet & greet at 5:30 which turned out to be a photo with Lee Seung Chul. Unlike some meet & greets/photo-with-artist sessions where the photos are done in larger groups so you don’t always know the other people in your photo or can’t see anyone well, these photos were done either individually or in pairs for the most part so there were a lot of very happy fans. There was also light refreshments for all the VVIPs. This was one element that the organizers did very well and I saw nothing but smiles.

You could buy CDs and glow sticks - some of the money from the show went to charity
You could buy CDs and glow sticks – some of the money from the show went to charity

After the meet & greet, everyone drifted to the lobby of the Roy Thompson Hall (the venue for the show, which is the primary venue for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) where there was a chance to buy his CD or a glow stick, as well as a few sponsor tables and games. I was surprised at how many fans bought glow sticks as the audience skewered older but I believe a portion of the sales went to charity. Regardless, you could definitely see them scattered in the audience throughout the show. Once the doors opened, the venue filled up nicely, not quite sold-out but close (based on the limited number of empty seats I could see).

I really wish I had info about what was going to happen (see later in the review for more details), as I hate flying blind at shows I’m going to review. Luckily, the brochure/program had the songs listed in it so I knew there was going to be 23 songs including the encore. 

The opening act
The opening act

The show opened with a solo female artist (sorry, no info on her) who had a lovely voice and whom I suspect was local as they said she had performed in Toronto and Korea previously. Of course, the writer in me was checking out the audience – I love people watching – and it was primarily older, mainly aged 30-65, which made sense, but that didn’t dim their enthusiasm for the show. The audience spent a good portion of it on their feet, waving their glow sticks and dancing.

The musicians were good
The musicians were good

The musicians, especially the violinist and the drummer, were amazing. I wish I had have recorded the drum solo as it was a pleasure to listen to. The dancers had a ton of enthusiasm and helped keep the energy levels up drugging the show. But of course, the main element of the show was Lee Seung Chul and he didn’t disappoint.

Lots of different dance styles and costumes
Lots of different dance styles and costumes

Between the music, he spoke with the audience, in Korean of course, and garnered several laughs and chuckles. While all the speaking, and the program were in Korean, so was most of the audience so it played well (and I was able to understand enough to keep up). But it was truly his music and performance that made the show. It was obvious that he not only has a good voice but that he enjoys performing.

Lee Seung Chul was a happy performer
Lee Seung Chul was a happy performer

My issues with the show

My issues with the show are strictly from a media perspective. It was one of the concerts that my different viewpoints gave me different feedback. You see, I had no idea what to expect of the show as I received no details prior to the show from the organizers, other than what time to show up, despite having contacted them a month in advance. The organizers were very friendly, both in advance and at the show, but even after talking to four different staff at the venue, I still didn’t know the photo rules. Was it just the first 3 songs, was there a photo pit, could we move around?

I ended up asking the usher who was very helpful and found out the answer for me. From talking to other media (we all know each other), I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have much info but the lack of details. Turns out that there was no photo pit and shooting from the back row of the venue did make things challenging. But it was only an issue for the media, not the audience.

Such a good performer
Such a good performer

The organizers, trying to be helpful, told us just as the show was starting that we could move up to any empty seats (there were a couple but not many) but people were still coming in and after sitting in someone’s seat, that didn’t work out well and I felt uncomfortable seat hopping so ended up back where I started. I did notice that the other media changed seats at least one time (and perhaps more) because people were still entering the venue. A photo pit, even for only the first three songs, would have alleviated this issue.

But those two issues – the lack of details prior to the show and the difficulties as a photographer – wouldn’t have affected regular attendees.

Lots of love from the audience for Lee Seung Chul
Lots of love from the audience for Lee Seung Chul

Final Thoughts

It was a good show that the audience obviously loved. My issues as media aside, there was a lot of admire about the showmanship, music and performance by Lee Seung Chul. It’s obvious why he’s been in the entertainment field, successfully, for so long.

Did you see Lee Seung Chul?
Did you see Lee Seung Chul?

Were you at the show? What did you think of it?

Editor’s note: apologies for the late post, we’ve been having technical issues for the past week.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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