RANGOON—Danish pop band Michael Learns to Rock is due to take to the stage in Rangoon on Saturday night, becoming the second major international act to perform in Burma’s old capital in recent months.
The band said they were delighted to be among the first musicians to offer the Burmese public an international pop performance. Such concerts became possible in Burma only recently, after a reformist government replaced the previous military regime in 2011.
“I want to say first that it’s great honor to be here for a concert in Myanmar. I think we have been looking forward to being here for a long time,” Jascha Richter, the band’ singer and keyboardist, said during a press conference at the Sedona Hotel on Friday.
“We have been traveling around Asia for 20 years. We always wanted to be here… We are all very happy,” he said.
The English songs singing Danish band was formed in the early 1990s and enjoyed many pop hits, selling 11 million records worldwide, mostly in Asia. Their 2006 hit ‘Take Me to Your Heart’ was the most downloaded single of the year and is hugely popular in Asia, where it is a karaoke singing favorite.
“I am very proud that many of our songs in Asia have been translated thousands of times and are played at karaoke bars,” said band member Mikkel Lentz, adding, “It is really nice to know that people also translated our songs into Burmese.”
The band will play at the People’s Park at the base of Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda Saturday night and Burmese musicians Zaw Win Htut and Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein will also perform.
“I feel very excited to sing with them. I can learn from them because they are here; such how they speak and how they work,” said Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein. The Burmese singer also reflected on the great changes that are affecting his country and are making visits by international artists possible.
“We are people who lost communication with the world. Now, I feel we get closer to them as our country has changed and all the people in the world would know us and we become one global community now,” said Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein. “We are free now. This gives us a lot of confidence.”
It will be the third major internationally-organized public event in Rangoon in recent months, after American pop star Jason Mraz performed in the city on Dec. 16 and a Thai entertainment group organized Burma’s first-ever New Year’s countdown. About 50,000 people attended these free events.
Michael Learns to Rock’s concert however, is a commercial affair and ticket prices range from US $23 to $112, a hefty price for a public that is among the very poorest in Asia.
The band’s singer Jascha Richter believed nonetheless, that the success of the concert would depend on the atmosphere and the reaction of the Burmese concertgoers to the band’s soft rock songs.
“For audiences who come to concerts, it really hard to predict what is going to happen, how the atmosphere is going to be and we hope that good vibrations will come out and we will have great party. We hope that a lot of people come out to the show and sing along with us,” he said.