From Rock to Romance
covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, February 21, 2024


From Rock to Romance



Iron Cross

Iron Cross, Burma’s best-known rock band, joined the Cyclone Nargis relief effort with a fundraising concert in Rangoon.






Burma’s top rock band, also known as IC, is 17 years old but still hammering out a beat. When it was formed in 1991—by five musicians led by the late guitar virtuoso Saw Bwe Hmu, an ethnic Karen Christian—it played mostly cover versions of foreign numbers with Burmese lyrics. But songwriters Maung Maung Zaw Latt and L Phyu freed it from its reliance on such popular American bands as Metallica and won it critical acclaim and a wide public.

The other founders of Iron Cross were lead guitarist Chit San Maung, bassist Khin Maung Thant, keyboard player Ba Nyar Naing and drummer Kha Yan.

A later addition to the group, lead singer Lay Phyu (not to be confused with songwriter L Phyu), rapidly acquired a huge following but inexplicably disappeared from the concert scene in 2006—reappearing in August 2008 at a Cyclone Nargis relief concert given by Iron Cross. No explanation was given for his two-year absence.

About 50,000 fans packed Rangoon’s Thuwanah Sports Stadium for the Nargis fundraiser—the largest concert audience ever seen in Burma.

Joining Lay Phyu on the program were three other popular IC rockers—Ah Nge, Myo Gyi and Wyne Wyne.

Thee Lay Thee & Say Yaung zon

Thee Lay Thee & Say Yaung Zon after a performance in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in January 2008. (Photo: Moe Kyaw/The Irrawaddy)
Burma’s well-known a-nyeint comedy troupe, Thee Lay Thee & Say Yaung Zon, lightened the hearts of Burmese around the world with an international tour that brought their jokes and traditional dances to appreciative audiences in several countries.

Consisting of five male comedians—Godzilla, Sein Thee, Pan Thee, Kye Thee and Zee Thee—and two female dancers—Mya Sabae Ngone and Chaw Suu Myo—the group is known especially for cracking jokes and performing satirical skits at the expense of the Burmese junta.

Last November, the troupe performed on Myaw Zin Gyun, an islet in Rangoon’s Kandawgyi Lake. They had been asked by the authorities to sign a document saying they would not make political jokes on stage. But that did not stop them from directing their wit at the regime’s savage crackdown on demonstrating monks last September. A VCD of their performance became a huge hit and was immediately banned by the authorities.

The VCD soon traveled beyond the country’s borders, and the troupe was invited by Burmese communities in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan to perform in these countries.

The troupe said their jokes were inspired by real events on the streets of Burma, and expressed the “real voice of the people.”

“We just have to listen to the voice of the people, and then we reflect on their lives,” said Godzilla.

Nay Toe

Nay Toe’s next film will help raise funds for the Cyclone Nargis relief effort.
Screen heartthrob Nay Toe, an Arakanese actor whose good looks and fine physique command a big following among Burmese women, is devoting his next film to raising money for Cylone Nargis victims. The film, “Yaw Yaw Shi,” will be directed by another leading man in Burma’s film world, Nyunt Myanmar Nyi Nyi Aung.

Nay Toe was busy filming when Cyclone Nargis struck, and he still regrets that he couldn’t join other personalities in taking aid to the victims in the Irrawaddy delta.

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