CONCERTS put out by K-Pop groups are mainly about elaborate stage productions, intense choreography and stylish showmanship. Arguably, the vocal skills take a back seat. But it’s a different case entirely when the performer is a solo act who is lauded as one of K-Pop’s greatest singers.
With her silky smooth voice, IU, a South Korean singer-songwriter and actress, has been topping charts and charming hearts since her debut in 2008. She has also captivated Malaysian fans. Their wish to see her perform live here was realised recently when she held her Love, Poem tour concert at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.
Instead of the concert theatrics that K-Pop groups would usually present, IU only needed her voice to satisfy the crowd. And she did so effortlessly!
Even though she did showcase some light choreography and was at times flanked by dancers, her vocals still took centerstage. Perhaps the best moments that evening were when IU’s voice was complemented solely by a musical instrument, be it the piano or the acoustic guitar. It was during these moments that one could hear her different vocal techniques; the result was silky-smooth melodies that gave listeners goosebumps.
The breathtaking vocals completely filled the arena, silencing the audience. The crowd was enraptured by her performance, proving that the 26-year-old artiste is indeed super talented in her own right.
Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with IU’s music repertoire, aside from a few notable songs such as Good Day (which propelled her to stardom) and You & I. Thankfully, I heard the other gems here, including Hold My Hand, Meaning Of You, Above The Time and Love Poem.
Besides vocally-focused ballads like Autumn Morning, Lullaby and Through The Night, IU nailed other genres too. There were tracks with a jazzy feel, such as Unlucky, Friday, Secret Garden, The Visitor and This Right Now. Her upbeat tracks include Red Queen, Jam Jam, Twenty Three, Last Night Story and The Red Shoes.
Among the crowd’s favourites were IU’s most recent single Blueming (VVIP ticket holders waved baby blue-coloured balloons to the beat) and Palette, her duet with BigBang’s frontman G-Dragon.
Another anticipated segment was IU’s performance of the soundtracks from drama series Hotel Del Luna, in which she also starred. It began with a medley of the ballads Can You See My Heart? (originally sang by Heize) and Remember Me (by Gummy).
IU then wowed the audience with her own original soundtrack for the fantasy drama, Our Happy Ending. Judging by the fans singing along, the drama series has a big following.
IU’s tunes were all enjoyable and she delivered the various musical styles with ease — from soulful serenades to shrill croons and raspy falsetto.
Still, for me, nothing could beat IU’s breakout single Good Day. Recently, the fun pop track topped Billboard’s 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s. The accompanying article stated: “Strip away the chart success, the visuals, the media hype, the videos, and the choreography — what needs to be left is a game-changing song, sung by the right artist.” And yes, I can’t agree more.
Due to its three consecutive, impossibly high-pitched, climactic notes, it is frequently used by other artistes to test their skills in nailing these notes. IU was able to pull this off at 17 years old. And when she demonstrated it at her Malaysian concert, the crowd’s appreciative cheers were simply deafening.
Meanwhile, another pop track, You & I, sounded grander as it had plenty of music accompaniments from the live band. The confetti showering the arena near the end made the moment even more beautiful.
TALENTED AND FUNNY
IU’s fandom is dubbed Uaena but since she was in Kuala Lumpur, she addressed the crowd as Kuaena.
“This is my first time in Malaysia. That’s why I focused more on how I would dress for today. My dancers seemed more enthusiastic than usual too,” said the doll-like artiste.
“I wasn’t able to leave my hotel but what I saw on the way (to the arena) was amazing. The weather here keeps changing. I love both sunny and rainy days but usually you only get one kind of weather a day. That’s why my impression of Kuala Lumpur is amazing!”
The fans showed their appreciation by singing along very loudly to the Korean lyrics. The fanboys, especially, were not shy in expressing their love verbally. My ears hurt!
“Are you always in a good mood?” IU commented fondly on their enthusiasm. “Is it because you get so many kinds of weather? I’m so jealous. Thanks for your loud cheers, I can tell that you really wanted me to come (for a concert). Jangan lupa hari ini! (Dont’ forget this day!)”
Coming to the show, I knew of IU’s reputation as a talented vocalist but never did I expect her to be funny too. For example, after a celebrated performance of the ultra-cute number Bbi Bbi, she took a moment to calm down. Then out of the blue, she said “Popularnya saya! (I am so popular!)”
She even laughed at her odd pronunciation and repeated it more clearly. The phrase was so unexpected that I found it funny and cute at the same time.
A huge bonus for IU fans were the two encores, which resulted in the concert lasting more than three hours. The second one featured the songs My Old Story, Leon, Someday and Every End Of The Day.
“The Love, Poem tour is ending. Usually I’d feel lonely but thanks to KL fans, I don’t, ... at all. It feels like I’ll be having more concerts here after this.
“We’ll meet again. Maybe next year?” Cue the screams!
2019 IU Tour Concert