Great music transcends language barriers. Saturday night I wished I understood Burmese when I went to University of Maryland to see Iron Cross. I know I would have enjoyed the show even more. Iron Cross attracted a large crowd of people who were fluent in their native tongue. They chanted, cheered, and apparently enjoyed the show.
Iron Cross put on an amazing three and half hour show with no intermission. They rotated vocalists in and out through out the evening but the core musicians played the majority of the time. Besides the language barrier, the show was everything you would expect from a rock/pop concert. On one side of the stage was a screen projecting the band. On the opposite of the stage another screen projected pictures, videos, and images as the songs played. They also had lights highlighted by earth-looking images displayed on the walls and ceilings. The sound balance was perfect and the audience could hear the musicians. The vocals were mixed properly so you could hear them above the instruments.
The evening started with an instrumental tune that drummer Kha Yam started beating out the rhythm. Bassist Khin Maung Thant came on stage and joined in on the piece. Finally the keyboardist Banyar Naing and guitarist Chit San Maung completed the jam. The next song was heavy and had a great crowd call and response going with singer Myo Gyi. His set included three of the hardest rocking songs before he left the stage with a ballad.
The next singer was Y Wine. The band changed gears. His songs included some ballads and one song that had a bit of twang to it. Next up was the guest D Lun who gave the band a new dimension since she was a female vocalist. Her set consisted of three songs. The last one was a beautiful ballad which really highlighted the keyboard skills of Banyar Niang. She was followed by a short set by Ah Nyge and a set by Lay Phyu. Lay had the crowd on their feet with his first song. He followed that with a ballad and then a hard rock song. He finished with a song that had the feel of a power ballad.
The band jammed into a cover of “Whipe Out” which turned into an incredible drum solo by Kha Yam. After the drum solo D Lun returned to the stage for another short set. The vocalists added a lot of texture to the music. They would often switch from something rocking hard to something soft or pop like. The contrast was quite welcomed. All of the singers would return for another set. In between would be a keyboard solo and guitar solo.
Banyar Niang put on a keyboard clinic during his solo. He switched effortlessly from one keyboard to another and sometimes playing multiple keyboards at the same time. He showed flash and was a great showmanship but his solo made musical sense and every note fit like it should.
Chit San Maung showed why he was considered among the best guitarists in Asia during the long show. He changed from almost heavy metal to pop music with ease. He showed tapping and shredding styles which with rival those of Eddie Van Halen, Vai, or Malmsteen. His guitar solo spot clearly showed he belonged among the best guitarists in the world period. He threw in the typical flash of playing the guitar behind his back but he topped that by playing it upside down and in multiple angles. He played two guitar solos at once on a double neck guitar. If that was not enough he played a guitar he was holding and played another guitar a roadie was holding for him at the same time. Tapping, slapping, shredding he highlighted all of his guitar wizardry during his extended solo time.
Iron Cross was a tremendous show and a cultural event. Iron Cross proved music is an international language that can be enjoyed by all.
Running time: 3.5 hours with no intermission.
Iron Cross played one night, Saturday August 11, 2012 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland, Stadium Drive, in College Park, MD. for upcoming events check out their calendar or call (301) 405-2787.