Girls show technical wizardry

Review: Concert


Singapore Indoor Stadium

Last Saturday

As South Korea's pop machine relentlessly churns out new bands, it is an education to see how stalwarts such as the seven-year-old Girls' Generation hold on to top spot, at least in Singapore.

While K-pop fans tend to be a demonstrative breed, Saturday's event was something special.

Tickets to the nearly three-hour concert sold out on the first day of sales. On the evening itself, members of the local Sone club, as fans are known, printed hand-banners adorned with hearts in the band's signature hot pink, also sporting Korean words that read: "Once a SONE, forever a SONE". These were draped free on every seat, along with instructions on how audience members could synchronise adoration.

As the lights dimmed, the Singapore Indoor Stadium turned into a sea of hot pink. The 8,000 fans, mostly male or 10-year-olds, waved lightsticks, echoed song choruses, wrote happy thoughts on giant balls which were then passed down from the top of the stadium to the stage, and finally referred to their sheets for the Romanised lyrics of the Korean song Into The New World, singing it lustily to encourage an encore.

The nine-member all-female group revelled in the attention. After the first set, the de facto spokesman for the night, California-born Tiffany, got fans to sing the chorus of I Got A Boy with the group. "Normally we do this in between but since you guys are so hyped up, I want you to sing now," she said to shouts of acclaim.

The non-English speaking members of the group bantered in the only way they could - promising to eat chilli crab, an offer that lost a little of its lustre on the fourth repetition.

There is no disputing that the concert, which cost $1.8 million to stage, was a masterpiece of technical execution. Even the filler videos in between songs went beyond the usual montage of idols staring moodily at the camera. An especially touching video about a former school teacher left fans a little stunned at first but they gamely applauded at the end.

Real-life stage wizardry included hologram projections of each member in the opening song, Hoot, which misled the audience over the girls' actual location, and fuelled a deathless roar when they finally appeared in the flesh.

There were also lasers, flashing lights, fireworks, fountains and even a cannon fired during the song T.O.P. However, technical magic is not quite the same thing as stage craft. Audiences come to a live show not for the polished dances, which they can watch on YouTube, but for the few moments when singers show some seemingly unrehearsed moves.

While the audience loved and cheered the 20something girls as they made kitten paws, cute faces and played up their harmless charm in frilly skirts, fans were doubly energised in encore numbers such as Twinkle, when their idols bopped spontaneously in sneakers and played air guitar.

Girls' Generation can be confident it is still their time to shine. And maybe soon they can move beyond the hot pink and embrace red and black and other shades of the female image.

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