Popular Korean boy band EXO turned the cool night into a hot one with its scorching performance in KL, writes Aref Omar.
The great thing about a major K-Pop concert is that it always starts on time.
At 8pm (on the dot!), the Malaysian leg of the Exo Planet #3: The Exo’rdium world tour kicked off with gusto at a packed Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.
It had rained earlier, which meant that the climate was cooler but as the eight members of Exo, loosely dubbed the world’s biggest boy band of the moment, took to the stage for a big bang opening with big hit track Mama, temperatures rose real quick.
The Exo Planet #3: The Exo’rdium world tour began on July 22 last year in Seoul, and the boys related that this was their first outdoor concert in a 30-show schedule (after performing in South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines).
“The weather is hot here today but your passion makes us even hotter,” shouted Suho to deafening screams from the thousands of fans, fondly known as Exo-Ls.
Band members Xiumin, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai and Sehun nodded in agreement, all drenched in sweat but soldiered on vigorously with a tight dance-heavy rendition of Monster.
The group then slowed things down with lighter R&B, ballad and groovy mid-tempo numbers that included White Noise, Thunder and Artificial Love.
It was time for some stripped-down musical bliss when Chanyeol, armed with an acoustic guitar, performed a series of songs such as Moonlight, Call Me Baby and Love Love, with the other boys.
One missing element during an otherwise spectacular concert was ninth member Lay, who was absent due to having “other commitments”, as reported by the outfit’s management.
A video which featured the “lost member” apologising to fans and expressing regret made Exo-Ls shout out in joy when he promised to be around for future concerts.
The popular Seoul-based group maintained a good rapport with the expressively enthusiastic Exo-Ls, dolling out saccharine-sweet phrases in-between songs and even going native with perennial favourites apa khabar and aku cinta pada mu.
There was even time to have an early birthday celebration segment for Xiumin, who turns 27 on March 26.
Aside from singing the birthday song, it was practically a massive karaoke session as the hysterical Exo-Ls sang along to the 28 songs that the SM Entertainment artiste performed during the three-hour concert.
The song-list featured a good spread of tracks from the group’s various EPs and three studio albums: Xoxo (2013), Exodus (2015) and Ex’act (2016), with each release having sold well over a million copies.
The latter half of the show then picked up the pace with more heavy-sounding and energetic tracks like 3.6.5, Overdose, Transformer and Lightsaber (which also predictably featured Darth Vader’s iconic breathing and lightsabers).
Since making its debut in 2012, Exo has snapped up multiple trophies at numerous awards events, including the Mnet Asian Music Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards and the World Music Awards.
It was clear why the group was currently at the top, driven by passion, hard work and talent.
And the concert had everything except the kitchen sink. There were pyrotechnics, dynamic lighting, smoke machines and dazzling laser lights.
Two jumbo screens, framed with running lights, flanked the main stage with a thrush front, which also housed raisable platforms in a few areas. This setup provided a good focal point for the boy band.
Various backdrops, settings and cool effects were displayed courtesy of three large background screens onstage.
The boys had fun prancing around with props such as canes and Exo light-sticks, as well as in various garbs from snazzy to cartoony (in bright coloured elf-like attire with long pointed hats).
Variety was the spice of Exo’s successful concert.
In terms of their looks, the boys switched between cool, cheeky, hard and cute.
Their catchy music also featured the same formula, straddling between the R&B, dance-pop, electronic and hip hop genres.
At one point, the stage looked like a rave concert complete with flashing laser lights and a gold DJ console deck to boot!
Just as Chanyeol had promised with “Let’s have fun together”, the group willingly delivered in spades.
Closer to the end of the concert, a slight drizzle cooled things down again as Exo performed the encore numbers Growl, Lucky One and Angel.
But the screams kept coming as Chanyeol addressed Exo-Ls with: “I’m really happy to be here. Do you also feel the same?”
As the concert came to an end, Suho told the pumped-up crowd not to forget the experience that night, before adding, “We’ll be back!”.
Exo last performed here in March last year, also at Stadium Merdeka.
The boy band first performed in Malaysia during the MTV World Stage in 2013.
Exo is scheduled to perform in Singapore next month before heading to Mexico and the US to finally complete its world tour.
The group’s concert in Kuala Lumpur was organised by Star Planet with support from Malaysia Major Events.