[Herald Review] SM Town Live in Tokyo: SM Entertainment’s Multi-Year Milestone

(SM Entertainment)

TOKYO — Under the majestic, starry dome of Japan’s largest concert hall, it was made crystal clear in a concert that lasted more than four hours with a massive 41-song lineup: SM Entertainment, one of Korea’s top entertainment agencies, not only successfully recaptured the spirit of its early days, but also embodied the pinnacle of collective power made possible by bringing together diverse musical genres.

The label’s joint concert, dubbed “SMTown Live 2022: SMCU Express @Tokyo” took place at Tokyo Dome in Japan from August 27-29, gloriously returning to the Japanese capital in the three years since the pandemic ended all world tours. The sold-out three-day event drew around 150,000 in-person fans to Tokyo, with Sunday’s show streamed live via video streaming platform Beyond Live for remote global fans. The concert series kicked off in Korea a week before the Japanese leg.

As the clock ticked to 4 p.m. on Sunday, the nervous excitement that had filled the spacious 55,000-seat stadium exploded into the deafening roars of tap dancing that were given to spectators so they could mimic a loud, screaming crowd . Living up to the hype, frenzied DJ performances by Ginjo, Raiden, and Hyo (also known as Girls’ Generation’s Hyo-yeon) marked the opening night. The concert then smoothly transitioned into ‘Black Mamba’ and ‘Next Level’, two high-energy hits from aespa. WayV and NCT Dream upped the ante with “Kick Back,” “Beatbox,” and “Hot Sauce.”

(SM Entertainment)

(SM Entertainment)

The colors and patterns of the glow sticks waved by the fans differed from each other, but together they created a beautiful sea of ​​hues, illuminating the darkened room. By the way, one thing I recently noticed during my very first concert experience in Japan was that almost no audience had cellphones in their hands, due to the strict restriction against taking photos. inside the stadium and the “No Photo” and “No Video” signs posted everywhere. Without any digital devices, however, fans seemed to be savoring every moment to the fullest, showing their support with relentless applause.

Since its debut in 2008 in Seoul, SM’s joint concert, which brings together all of the label’s artists on stage, has seen a constant change in composition during the pivotal years of the K-pop industry. But through ups and downs, his legacy seemed to have only grown stronger. From company veterans such as BoA, Super Junior, EXO, Red Velvet, SHINee and NCT 127 to emerging label mates aespa and newly formed Got the Beat, watching the entire SM family perform on the same stage was like reliving the legendary history of SM. He is the one who set several milestones in this ever-changing industry. Plus, it was nice to see the musicians successfully lead the entire show at a steady pace, seamlessly switching between performances and chat sessions with local fans in Japanese without a hitch. Between concerts, some artists like EXO hinted at possible comeback plans.

(SM Entertainment)

(SM Entertainment)

As the sun went down, the show began to pick up even more speed with a series of solo performances and specials dedicated to local fans. EXO’s Chen and SHINee’s Onew sang soulful ballads “Beautiful Goodbye” and “Way,” respectively, while artists like Max Changmin, Taeyeon, Hyoyeon, Minho, and Suho performed their solo hits “Devil,” “INVU.” , “Deep”. ” “Heartbreak” and “Hurdle”. Kangta and Key of SHINee released their new songs “Eyes On You” and “Gasoline,” respectively, giving fans a special sound gift. For Japanese fans, the show also featured Japanese songs, such as BoA’s “The Greatest”, Xiumin’s “Shake”, as well as renditions of local hits such as One Ok Rock’s “Chaosmyth” performed by Super Junior’s Yesung. and the joint rendition of Ado’s “Ashura-chan” by Changmin, Kyuhyun, and Minho. It was undeniable: SM was still a key player and home to some of the most important and cutting-edge musicians on the scene.

Super Junior was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. The seasoned band knew how to spice up the evening, with members galloping around the stage and breaking the language barrier by making the audience laugh. Backed by colorful confetti and fireworks embroidering the night, the bandmates performed “Sorry Sorry,” the nostalgic all-time hit that never got old. The group’s performance was followed by NCT ​​Dream’s “Glitch Mode”, aespa’s “Girls”. “Feel My Rhythm” by Red Velvet and “Better” by BoA. The event ended in a grand finale with a performance of Super Junior’s celebratory “Black Suit,” and finally with “Hope from Kwangya,” a remake of the 1998 boy band HOT song, during which all the musicians gathered on stage to sing the hopeful song. in unison and bid farewell to their beloved fans. SM founder and executive producer Lee Soo-man also joined the final performance, showing his support for the musicians. It was a perfect and heartwarming way to end this memorable evening. Coming out of the dome, the melodious tune of “Kwangya” continued to ring in my ears. I could feel that “pink blood,” a phrase that identifies an SM supporter, was already flowing through my veins.

By Hong Dam-young ([email protected])

About Walter J. Leslie

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