“THE KOREAN word “daebak” means awesome, the best, or a big hit. It perfectly describes the Manila stop of CNBLUE’s Blue Moon Concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday. And the quartet of Jung Yong Hwa (leader and lead vocals), guitarist Lee Jong Hyun, drummer Kang Min Hyuk and bassist Lee Jung Shin proved they deserve to be the first Korean band to ever hold a world tour.
A high strung performance on a stage made more spectacular by well-timed lights and explosive effects provided the audience with a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience unlike any other Kpop shows staged in Manila in recent years.
For two hours, Filipino fans witnessed the phenomenon that is CNBLUE.
CNBLUE stands for Code Name Burning Lovely Untouchable Emotional — the adjectives represent Jong Hyun, Min Hyun, Jung Shin, and Yong Hwa, respectively. Starting as an indie band performing on the streets and clubs of Japan in August 2009, CNBLUE formally debuted in Korea in January 2010. The band, which has since swept the music charts with one hit after the other, deviates from the standard song-and-dance style of the dozens of Kpop acts flooding the Korean entertainment industry.
But it has not been easy for the CNBLUE boys, who came in for a nasty bashing when they were starting out for their alleged inability to play instruments, among others. But it soon became apparent even to their detractors that they were the real deal.
Saturday’s concert was an affirmation that CNBLUE is one of the fastest rising Korean acts and that language is not a barrier for music lovers.
Prior to Manila, CNBLUE brought Blue Moon to Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Australia. In Hong Kong, tickets were sold out in five minutes, prompting organizers to hold a second show.
The show started with a video clip consistent with the “Blue Moon” concept, and thereafter, the boys took the stage with “Where You Are,” a cut from Re: Blue, which is the album they are promoting in this concert tour.
This was immediately followed by “Get Away” which was the ending theme of US smash hit, Gossip Girl. Jong Hyun and his wailing guitar thread made the thousands of girls scream and swoon. The lead guitarist’s “guitargasm” was duplicated many times over during the night, driving his Burning Boice (which is what his fans call themselves) to near madness. “One Time,” made more fun with Jung Shin’s intense rapping, came next.
After the three-song salvo, the boys delivered their opening spiels.
“Magandang gabi. Kami ay CNBLUE. Welcome to the Blue Moon. Finally CNBLUE is in the Philippines! Thank you for your (being) ready.
Awwww!” Yong Hwa said. Each member proceeded to introduce himself in Filipino.
With the quick break over, they resumed with Re: Blue singles “Naram Namja” (“Man Like Me”) and “Coffee Shop,” “Have a Good Night,” and “Wake Up.” They then slowed the tempo with “Love Light,” a catchy ballad which Yong Hwa admitted to have written for Seohyun, the Girls Generation member with whom he has a hit reality show, We’ve Got Married. Yong Hwa turned to his piano in “Feeling” and thereafter accompanied Jong Hyun’s “These Days,” another hit from their Japanese album, Code Name Blue. They rounded the set with “Y, Why.”
Understandably, the set list for each leg of the tour may be different. However, considering that they were here to promote Re: Blue, they were expected to sing all six songs in the mini-album, but “More Than You” was not part of Saturday’s repertoire. Thereafter, they turned the beat up several notches with “Lalala,” “Just Please,” “Tattoo” — which was highlighted with onstage fireworks — and “In My Head.”
In what was definitely the most explosive set of the night, CNBLUE successively sang “Intuition,” “I’m a Loner,” and “I’m Sorry.”
“Dance with me, ok? I’m the number one dancer, you know? Just in CNBLUE. Let’s party ‘til the end. Let’s go!” Yong Hwa said.
“Intuition,” the opening track of the First Step album nearly brought the house down — what with Yong Hwa exhibiting his unique “dance” — signature shoulder swings coupled with some bootylicious moves. He got so carried away by the euphoria that set his guitar aside during “I’m a Loner” to interact with the audience. Striking while the iron was hot, “I’m Sorry” was next in the repertoire. Their biggest hit to date, “I’m Sorry,” is the lead single of Re: Blue, CNBLUE’s album that topped the US Billboard charts barely two weeks after its release in January.
Intensity was its highest and Yong Hwa’s explosive stage presence and musicality were evident at this point. Front row spectators like this writer now fully understands what actress Park Shin Hye meant when she said that Yong Hwa, her co-star in two K-dramas, has a different persona on stage.
After a five-minute intermission, CNBLUE started its six-song encore with “Hey You,” another crowd pleaser.
Then Min Hyuk surprised the audience by reading a Tagalog script, asking the audience to sing “Happy Birthday” to a visibly surprised but pleased Yong Hwa (See sidebar on the press conference).
But the birthday boy committed a big blunder when, during his opening ad lib for “You’ve Fallen For Me,” he said “Singapore” instead of “Philippines.” The fans were obviously disappointed and openly teased the CNBLUE frontman. Yong Hwa could not immediately recover from his mistake and embarrassment so he had Jung Shin sing the opening lines of the song. And when he took over, he was definitely flat and continued to be flat for a good portion of the song, apparently affected by fans’ ribbing. (In Facebook posts after the concert he repeatedly declared that he loves the Philippines). Yong Hwa thankfully recovered in “Love.” The concert closed with “Try Again, Smile Again.”
The other members were not without flaws. They were a few times when Jong Hyun was also off-key and at times was too engrossed in his “guitargasm” that he briefly skipped his vocals.
CNBLUE’s English is decent and they should at least be given credit for their effort to reach out to their global fans by coming up with more English songs. The lyrics are difficult to understand in some instances but the beat and overall impact make up for the poor diction. For instance, heart is “hurt,” crazy is “craze” but no one’s complaining.
The band has come a long way since Listen to the CNBLUE, their first live concert in Korea in July 2010 where they were obviously nervous and at some point, tentative. But they had improved by leaps and bounds in 2011’s 392 Concert in Yokohama and Blue Storm. By Arena Tour 2012 Come On Saitama, the band was oozing with confidence and already showed what real rock stars are made of. The Blue Moon leg in Manila had its distinct flavor — blunders, cutesy gimmicks, and all. It will definitely not be the last time that the country will see these boys live. Geugeos-eul gidae (Really looking forward to it.) “
OK clearly, the person who wrote this article is not a CNBLUE fan, and in my opinion, was a bit harsh with their criticism of the band’s performance for the night. I just have to say, while certain criticisms are healthy and should be helpful to improve performance and work levels, I think this person was reaching to try to find faults in CNBLUE‘s performance that should’ve or could’ve been easily overlooked considering their level of workmanship at all times and how hard they work on making sure the audience is having the best time ever. Pointing out how Yonghwa‘s singing was flat during a song or two or that Jonghyun was too busy playing guitar to sing his parts are mistakes any performer can make and is pretty common during a concert of over 2 hours! I think the writer should’ve taken those points into consideration. These are not mistakes CNBLUE do all the time, and a person who has seen them live in concert more than once would know that. So, maybe I’m just being butt hurt about it but I really didn’t care for those particular comments.
With that said, I know not every review will be 100% favorable nor objective so I’m sure I have to compensate for that. For CNBLUE to be featured in Business World is a pretty good thing. It means that the world is starting to really pay attention to them and since they are a reputable publication, their words hold more weight. Most of the article shows how truly impressive CNBLUE is in concert and despite some personal comments by the writer, I think he or she was equally impressed by our guys ‘In concert’ improvement over the years so I’m very happy.
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Posted by Mari @ ColorMeCNBLUE