It’s officially been just over a week since I was invited to view the B.A.P members on stage at the London Coronet (Elephant & Castle) in all of their glory. It was the group’s second time coming to London as part of a tour, and I was lucky enough to attend their first one. Expectations were set pretty high as their first concert totally blew me away. It’s no secret that all the members of B.A.P had a year gap from 2015 – 2016 due to unforeseen circumstances (and matters that I will not dwell on). Because of this gap and event, there was always a worry that they might have lost their touch with fans, or that they won’t be up to scratch on the stage.
Boy-oh-boy was I wrong!
The Coronet was a new venue for me, and no other K-pop artist had performed there before. It had a capacity of 2000 and by the time everyone filed in it was heaving with excitable “baby’s” (The fandom name for B.A.P). I was greeted with a sea of green as fans began to turn on their lights ready for the concert. They then began to chant the boys names as the lights dimmed to a sea of deafening screams. One thing I think Koreans should be very proud of is their production of VCR’s (or for those who don’t know, the videos that play on the background screens) which adorn the concert and allow for smooth transactions between songs and costume changes. The opening was poignant, loud and questioning.
As soon as the members graced the stage the decibel levels rose to new heights via singing and screaming. It was really great to see the group looking out to a sea of fans who were all there to support them. Slight smiles and grins adorned their faces as they got right to the point and began performing their first song and ultimate single “Warrior”, with the most amazing live metal drums making for a great remix. The energy that radiated from the members and the fans was electrifying; I even found myself singing along and really getting into it. And this was only the first song. Swiftly following on the boys got into position for a powerful performance of “What The Hell” which then led to my personal favourite, “No Mercy”. By this time it was obvious the guys were creating a party atmosphere rather than your bog standard concert.
But then the atmosphere reached a whole new level when member Himchan decided to sing the group’s very sexual song “S.N.S” as a solo performance, which included a lot of body rolls and flirting with the crowds. The scene was once again brought to life with the fun and very energetic “Spy” performance. At this point I realised these guys were performing very exhausting dance routines, in multiple layers, on a stage full of hot lights, in a room crowded with people, and still signing absolutely on point (no, they were not miming). Showing their diversity, their performance of the funk and soul song “Be Happy” bought a little bit of laughter and comic relief to the stage, whilst still keeping that carnival feeling through lots and lots of confetti being blasted onto the crowd. Keeping relevant to the theme of the show, and promoting their latest works, “Feel So Good” and “Carnival” were performed with high energy, flashing lights and lots of fan interaction.
After a small break, member Youngjae took to the stage with a slight shyness ready to perform his solo cover of Trey Songz “SlowMotion”, which was followed by the groups performance of “Hurricane” and “Badman”, both of which were remixed to create a totally new feeling and sound unique to their tour. From their No Mercy album the boys took to the stage to sing “Dancing In The Rain”, which was followed by their rock-pop song “Bang x 2”. At this point fans let themselves go, thrashing around dancing and head banging whilst singing along. For a moment it was like a rock concert and it was really fun to watch. As a live song, this was made for a live performance. Spreading the load a little bit, and allowing the other members to change outfits and prepare for what was to come, member Jongup took to the stage to perform his solo stage “Now”. With this performance, it was clear just how much each of the members had grown, both physically, mentally and vocally. Gone are the days of young; these boys are now grown men with many talents.
What was to come after Jongup’s solo was something that left me speechless, and full of goosebumps. On the huge screen on stage was the words “WAR 1914 – 2016”. The video began to role with white writing scrolling up with dates and names of all of the wars throughout the world between 1914 to present day. As the words got faster the sheer amount of wars that have happened was soul crushingly real. But something that chilled me to the bone was the continuation of the VCR which moved to a white screen with barbed wire across it. You could hear gunfire and see tanks and military cars moving on the screen. Then all of a sudden a spitfire plane came into sight and the noise was so loud. The plane aimed towards the crowd and began getting bigger and bigger. Then, in a flurry of flashing lights, the sound of a gatling gun was heard and fans all around ducked and screamed. It truly felt that the plane was firing onto the crowd and it really left the fans feeling completely struck to the core. Left on the screen was the symbol of peace with the words “you only have one chance” which led into the song “One Shot”. In all honesty I had never felt so moved or touched by a VCR video at a concert, and at the same time never felt so involved with a concert where a VCR would affect me, but this one did, and I won’t be able to forget it for a long time to come.
The members then turned their attention to “Kingdom” from their recent Japanese album, which still has a poignant message within the lyrics. The performances were calmed down once again to a solemn yet beautiful rendition of “1004(angel)” and “With You”, where fans were serenaded by the soft and controlled vocals of the group. By now you could see the thankfulness and happiness the members had for their fans and that they truly enjoyed their time on that stage, putting their absolute all into it.
With a few softly spoken words, the boys left the stage after a bow – the crowd went wild with chants of “Encore”. After a change of clothing the boys came out to the stage to perform their last three songs. Their latest Korean release, and the first song since their short break, “Young, Wild & Free”, followed by “Excuse Me”, bringing the hype up to a new level once again (I would also like to note that at this point members Zelo and Bang Yong Guk both jumped into the front of the crowd and gave the most amazing fan service – we will not complain about BYG taking his shirt off either!). The last special that was performed with the fans was another round of “Bang x 2” due to the craziness of the fans and members.
When leaving the concert it dawned on me just how much better their performances were despite a year long break. A huge kudos to the set and stage designers, to the videographers, the live band, the choreographers and of course the members themselves – they had truly outdone themselves. B.A.P left the stage promising the fans that they “will be coming back to London for more concerts.” I wait with bated breath to see what else they can do to top this wonderful production.
A huge thank you to CJEM and Onion Production for the invitation to the show, and a well done to B.A.P for reigniting my love for their music and performances in such a thought provoking way.